This Week in Washington: CMS Releases the Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule




House Rules Committee to Discuss Two Healthcare Bills

On June 12, the House Rules Committee will meet to discuss the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 and the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022. In the meeting, the Rules Committee will decide matters related to the bills’ House floor discussion, including the length of the discussion, any amendments, and other relevant measures.

Reps. Fletcher, Strickland and Raskin Introduce Bill to Protect Americans Traveling for Abortion Services

On July 7, Reps. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD) introduced the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022. The bill would prohibit anyone operating under state law from punishing Americans who travel for reproductive healthcare.

House Appropriations Committee Advances the FY 2023 Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Funding Bill

On June 30, the House Appropriations Committee voted to advance the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Related Agencies funding bill. The bill provides $242.1 billion in funding, an increase of $28.5 billion over the 2022 amount. A bill summary can be found here.


Senate Democrats Release Text of Drug Pricing Deal

On July 6, Senate Democrats released the legislative text of a drug pricing deal. The legislation would allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of 10 drugs starting in 2026, with the number increasing to 15 in 2027 and increasing by an additional 20 in 2029 and every year after. The drugs subject to negotiation will be chosen by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) based on their total Medicare Parts B and D spending. In addition, the legislation would also repeal the Part D rebate rule sought to eliminate the safe harbor for Part D drug rebates. The bill would also cap Medicare Part B and D rebates for single-source drugs and biologics’ manufacturers whose prices are increasing above the rate of inflation. Lastly, the bill would cap prescription drug plans’ cost-sharing payments in Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.

Sen. Wyden Releases Finance Committee Report on Big Pharma Tax Practices

On July 7, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) released an interim report titled “Big Pharma Tax Avoidance,” which is part of the Senate Finance Committee’s investigation into the pharmaceutical industry’s tax practices. The report states that pharmaceutical company AbbVie uses tax loopholes and tax havens to avoid paying U.S. taxes on prescription drug sales. In addition, the report states that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act halved AbbVie’s effective tax rate. A press release on the report and its findings can be found here.

Sens. Toomey, Barrasso, Portman, Sasse and Daines Call for Insulin Proposal to Go to the Senate Finance Committee Prior to Floor Consideration

On July 6, Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), John Barrasso (R-WY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Steve Daines (R-MT) wrote to Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Mike Crapo, Ranking Member (R-ID), to stress the importance that the Improving Needed Safeguards for Users of Lifesaving Insulin Now (INSULIN) Act undergo proper committee procedure. The INSULIN Act was introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Specifically, the senators called for the bill to go to the Senate Finance Committee for a markup before being brought to the Senate floor.

Sens. Bennet and Cortez Masto Call on HHS to Update HIPAA to Protect the Privacy of Reproductive Health Services

On July 1, Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) wrote to the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department (HHS), Xavier Becerra, calling on HHS to update the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule to protect the privacy of reproductive healthcare services following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sen. Shaheen Calls on Congressional Leadership to Make ACA’s Enhanced Premium Tax Credits Permanent

On June 30, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led a group of 13 senators in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). In the letter, the senators requested that a measure making the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) enhanced premium tax credit permanent be included in the upcoming reconciliation legislation. The tax credits are set to expire at the end of this year.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.