This Week in Washington: CMS releases first list of Inflation Rebate Program drugs, initial guidance on Medicare Drug Negotiation Program



Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act Reintroduced

On March 14, Reps. Steube (R-FL), Higgins (D-NY), Alford (R-MO) and Larson (D-CT) reintroduced the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act. The legislation would expand Medicare coverage to include chiropractic services, and would ensure that Medicare patients have access to chiropractic care as an alternative to using prescription drugs for pain management. Sens. Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cramer (R-ND) introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

For more information, click here.


Rural Health Legislation Announced

On March 16, Sens. Blackburn (R-TN) and Warner (D-VA) reintroduced the Save Rural Hospitals Act. The legislation would reduce hospital closures in rural areas by establishing a minimum Medicare Area Wage Index of 0.85. The wage index is used to calculate the overall Medicare payment hospitals receive based on the average labor costs in the area in which the hospital is located.

Sen. Blackburn and Sen. Hickenlooper (D-CO) intend to introduce the Rural Health Innovation Act. The legislation would:

  • Create two 5-year grant programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Community-Based Division;
  • Ensure that the first grant program go toward establishing Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), aimed at addressing a community’s urgent care and triage needs. Grants awarded by the program would be limited to $500,000 for existing facilities and $750,000 for startup facilities; and
  • Ensure that the second grant program go toward expanding existing rural health departments. Grants awarded by the program would be limited to $500,000. Grants would only be awarded to communities that are rural and are located at least 30 minutes away from the nearest emergency department. Communities that have lost a hospital in the past seven years will be given priority.

Additionally, Sen. Blackburn and Sen. Durbin (D-IL) intend to introduce the Rural America Health Corps Act. The legislation would:

  • Create a new loan repayment program titled “NHSC Rural Provider Loan Repayment Program”;
  • Ensure practitioners would be eligible for flexible loan repayments, based on the severity of healthcare staff shortages in the area;
  • Waive associated income tax liability for the loan repayment program; and
  • Allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to participate in the loan repayment program.

For more information, click here.

Maximizing Opioid Recovery Emergency (MORE) Savings Act Introduced

On March 15, Special Committee on Aging Chairman Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Maximizing Opioid Recovery Emergency (MORE) Saving Act. The goals of the legislation are to lower the cost of treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) and eliminate the cost of treatment and recovery services for privately insured individuals, as well as those enrolled in a new Medicare pilot program. It would also increase federal funding for Medicaid treatment programs and establish a pilot program in 15 states, which would allow individuals to seek Medicare OUD services at no cost for the next five years. Rep. Dean (D-PA) will be introducing a companion bill in the House.

For more information, click here.

Senate Finance and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairmen Send Letter to CMS Regarding IRA Medicare Part B Coinsurance

On March 13, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) led 20 senators in sending a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, asking CMS to announce which Medicare Part B medications would be subject to the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) Medicare Part B and D inflation rebate provision. The senators also asked CMS to announce what the coinsurance percentage and amount would be for each applicable Part B drug.

This request came just as CMS released on March 15 a list of the first 27 drugs that fall under the rebate provision.

The other senators who signed the letter include Democratic senators Bennet (CO), Klobuchar (MN), Brown (OH), Gillibrand (NY), Casey (PA), Cortez Masto (NV), Cardin (MD), Kaine (VA), Blumenthal (CT), Manchin (WV), Warnock (GA), Merkley (OR), Baldwin (WI), Warner (VA), Carper (DE), Welch (VT), Whitehouse (RI), Kelly (AZ), Murray (WA) and Murphy (CT).

For more information, click here.

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