This Week in Washington: Workforce issues studied, PBMs under more scrutiny



House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman Launches Investigation into Pharmacy Benefit Manager Practices

On March 1, House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) announced that he is launching an investigation to analyze whether pharmacy benefit managers’ (PBM) tactics are harming patient care and increasing the costs of healthcare programs. Chairman Comer is requesting that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Defense Health Agency (DHA) provide information related to PBM practices, to analyze the impact on patients, the pharmaceutical market and federal healthcare programs.

For more information, click here.

Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2023 Introduced

On Feb. 21, Reps. Burgess (R-TX) and Cuellar (D-TX) introduced the Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2023. The bipartisan bill would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) ban on new physician-owned hospitals.

For more information, click here.


Senate HELP Committee Chair and Ranking Member Request Input from Healthcare Providers on Workforce Shortages

On March 2, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) sent a letter to healthcare providers, requesting their input on current healthcare workforce shortages. The senators are asking healthcare providers to propose potential solutions to resolve the ongoing shortages. The letter comes in the wake of a hearing the Senate HELP Committee held on Feb. 16 titled “Examining Health Care Workforce Shortages: Where Do We Go From Here?,” which focused on understanding the root causes of current healthcare workforce shortages.

For more information, click here.

Primary Care Enhancement Act Introduced

On March 2, Sens. Cassidy (R-LA), Shaheen (D-NH), Scott (R-SC) and Kelly (D-AZ) introduced the Primary Care Enhancement Act. The bipartisan bill seeks to expand patient access to primary care providers by allowing patients to use health savings accounts (HSAs) to pay for primary care services sought out by them without specialist or hospital referrals.

For more information, click here.

Thirty-Two Senators Send Letter Concerning Short-Term Health Plans

On Feb. 22, Sens. Baldwin (D-WI) and Murphy (D-CT) led a group of 32 senators in sending a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. The letter asks HHS to take immediate action on short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI) plans. The senators are concerned over the expansion of STLDI plans in the weeks leading up to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) unwinding. Millions of Americans are expected to lose their Medicaid coverage when the PHE comes to an end.

The other senators who signed the letter include Democratic Sens. Blumenthal (CT), Booker (NJ), Brown (OH), Cardin (MD), Casey (PA), Coons (DE), Cortez Masto (NV), Duckworth (IL), Durbin (IL), Feinstein (CA), Hassan (NH), Heinrich (NM), Hickenlooper (CO), Kaine (VA), Klobuchar (MN), Luján (NM), Markey (MA), Menendez (NJ), Merkley (OR), Murray (WA), Padilla (CA), Peters (MI), Reed (RI), Shaheen (NH), Smith (MN), Stabenow (MI), Van Hollen (MD), Warner (VA), Warnock (GA), Warren (MA) and Welch (VT). Sen. King (I-ME) also signed.

For more information, click here.

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