This Week in Washington: President releases FY2025 Budget; House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee marks up 19 healthcare bills; Senate Finance and HELP Committee Chairmen send letter concerning preventive care services cost-sharing; CMS issues guidance on Change Health cyberattack and advanced payments.

Congress

House

House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health Marks Up 19 Healthcare Bills

On March 12, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health marked up and reported out of committee 19 healthcare bills concerning Alzheimer’s disease, cancer screenings, lifespan respite care, rural emergency services training, pediatric care services, maternal health and mental health and substance use disorder treatment programs.

The bills were:

H.R. 619, NAPA Reauthorization Act: Reauthorizes the National Alzheimer’s Project through 2035, updates the project’s purpose and expands the membership and reporting requirements of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services.

H.R. 620, Alzheimer’s Accountability and Investment Act: Requires the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue to submit an annual budget estimate to Congress to achieve the initiatives and goals included in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.

H.R. 7218, Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act of 2024: Reauthorizes programs focused on improving Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementia education, early detection, diagnosis, patient and caregiver support, risk reduction and other activities at currently appropriated levels for fiscal years 2025 through 2029.

H.R. 5012, SHINE for Autumn Act of 2023: Allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award grants for data collection and reporting related to still births and requires HHS to issue guidelines and educational materials regarding proper training and processes for the collection of stillbirth data. The bill also requires HHS to establish a perinatal pathology fellowship program within an existing training program.

H.R. 4581, Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act of 2023: Clarifies that evidence-based activities and research focused on reducing the incidence of stillbirth are permissible uses of the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant.

H.R. 2706, Charlotte Woodward Organ Transplant Discrimination Prevention Act: Prohibits healthcare providers from denying or restricting an individual’s access to organ transplants solely on the basis of the individual’s disability, except in limited circumstances.

H.R. 4646, SIREN Reauthorization Act: Reauthorizes and modifies the Rural Emergency Medical Services Training and Equipment Assistance Program for fiscal years 2024 through 2028.

H.R. 6160, To amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize a lifespan respite care program: Reauthorizes the Lifespan Respite Care Program through fiscal year 2028. The Lifespan Respite Care Program empowers coordinated state systems to provide accessible, community-based respite care services for family caregivers of children and adults.

H.R. 6960, Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act of 2024: Reauthorizes the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program for fiscal years 2024 through 2029.

H.R. 7153, Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Reauthorization Act: Reauthorizes the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act which works to prevent suicide and burnout, as well as address mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals. The legislation would direct the HHS Secretary to prioritize the allocation of resources for healthcare professional mental health and substance use disorder services.

H.R. 7251, Poison Control Centers Reauthorization Act of 2024: Reauthorizes certain poison control programs including the maintenance of the national toll-free phone number, the promotion of poison control center utilization and the maintenance of a program that awards grants to accredited poison control centers.

H.R. 7224, To amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize the Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond to Health and Wellness Training Program: Reauthorizes the Stop, Observe, and Respond to Health and Wellness Training Program through fiscal year 2029. The program trains healthcare and social service providers to identify potential human trafficking victims and work with law enforcement as well as address other issues related to human trafficking.

H.R. 7208, Traumatic Brain Injury Program Reauthorization Act of 2024: Reauthorizes certain Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) programs aimed at improving TBI prevention, patient advocacy systems and access to TBI rehabilitation.

H.R. 6829, Cardiomyopathy Health Education, Awareness, Research and Training in the Schools (HEARTS) Act of 2023: Directs HHS to develop and distribute educational materials regarding cardiomyopathy, automated external defibrillators and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to school administrators, educators, health professionals and families. It would also direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to report on its national cardiomyopathy surveillance and research activities to Congress.

H.R. 7189, Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act of 2024: Reauthorizes a national congenital heart disease research, surveillance and awareness program through fiscal year 2029.

H.R. 7406, DeOndra Dixon INCLUDE Project Act of 2024: Authorizes the NIH Investigation of Co-occurring Conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down Syndrome Project and requires the NIH to report to Congress on the program’s progress and related research.

H.R. 3916, SCREENS for Cancer Act of 2023: Reauthorizes the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program through fiscal year 2028 and modifies and updates program reporting requirements.

H.R. 5074, Kidney PATIENT Act: Delays the implementation of the inclusion of oral-only End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) drugs in the Medicare ESRD Prospective Payment System.

H.R. 5526, Seniors’ Access to Critical Medications Act of 2023: Makes permanent a waiver issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which allows Medicare patients to receive medications by mail and allows family members or caregivers to obtain medications on a patient’s behalf.

For more information, click here.

House Ways and Means Committee Holds Hearing Concerning Home Care Access in Rural and Underserved Communities

On March 12, the House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing to discuss the challenges patients in rural and underserved communities face when accessing home care services. Announced witnesses were:

  • Bell Maddux, Home Dialysis Patient and Working Mother
  • Roy Underhill, Hospital at Home Patient
  • Nathan Starr, Medical Doctor and Lead Hospitalist of the Intermountain Healthcare Castell Home Services Tele-Hospitalist Program
  • Chris Altchek, Founder and CEO of Cadence
  • Ateev Mehrotra, Professor of Health Care Policy and Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Hospitalist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

For more information, click here.

Telehealth Modernization Act of 2024 Introduced

On March 12, Reps. Carter (R-GA), Rochester (D-DE), Steube (R-FL), Sewell (D-AL), Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Van Drew (R-NJ) and Morelle (D-NY) introduced the Telehealth Modernization Act of 2024. The legislation seeks to ensure permanent access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries and extends those flexibilities to federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics.

For more information, click here.

340B PATIENTS Act Introduced

On March 12, Rep. Matsui (D-CA) introduced the 340B Pharmaceutical Access to Invest in Essential, Needed Treatments and Support (340B PATIENTS) Act. The legislation would:

  • Clarify that manufacturers are required to offer 340B discount prices to covered entities regardless of the manner or location in which a drug is dispensed, including if a covered entity uses a contract pharmacy to dispense 340B drugs to the entity’s patients;
  • Ensure that manufacturers cannot place conditions on the ability of a covered entity to purchase and use 340B drugs, regardless of the manner or location in which the drug is dispensed, including through contract pharmacies; and
  • Impose civil monetary penalties on manufacturers that violate these statutory requirements and prohibitions.

For more information, click here.

Bipartisan Primary and Virtual Care Affordability Act Introduced

On March 13, Reps. Schneider (D-IL) and Wenstrup (R-OH) introduced the Bipartisan Primary and Virtual Care Affordability Act. The legislation seeks to enhance the affordability of primary care and telehealth for patients with high-deductible health plans.

For more information, click here.

Senate

Senate Finance and HELP Committee Chairmen Send Letter Concerning Preventive Care Service Cost-Sharing

On March 11, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sent a letter to Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury Secretaries Xavier Becerra, Julie Su and Janet Yellen, concerning health insurers and providers charging individuals cost-sharing for receiving preventive healthcare services.

The chairmen are concerned that insurers inappropriately charge patients for preventive services such as immunizations and HIV and colon cancer screenings. They urged the departments to issue guidance to address inappropriate cost-sharing and to audit Federally Facilitated Marketplace and employer-sponsored health insurers to ensure that preventative services are fully covered.

For more information, click here.

Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Requests Information on Regulation of Clinical Tests

On March 13, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) announced that he is requesting information from stakeholders concerning how the regulation of clinical tests could be improved.

Specifically, Sen. Cassidy would like to know how the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory framework for diagnostics and the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory regulatory framework for laboratory-developed tests could be reformed and improved. Responses are due by April 3.

For more information, click here.

Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on the President’s FY2025 Budget Request for HHS

On March 14, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to discuss President Biden’s fiscal year 2025 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services testified.

For more information, click here.

Delivering Unified Access to Lifesaving Services (DUALS) Act of 2024 Introduced

On March 14, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sens. Carper (D-DE), Cornyn (R-TX), Warner (D-VA), Scott (R-SC) and Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Delivering Unified Access to Lifesaving Services (DUALS) Act of 2024.

The legislation seeks to improve coverage for individuals enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, known as dual eligibles. The bill would:

  • Require each state to select, develop and implement a comprehensive, integrated health plan for dual-eligible beneficiaries;
  • Require plans to develop and update care coordination plans, establish ombudsman offices and provide a care coordinator for each beneficiary;
  • Reduce “look-alike” plans that target dual-eligible beneficiaries, create a single appeals process and reduce third-party marketing organization incentives to target beneficiaries;
  • Require every state to allow the establishment of the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE);
  • Allow enrollment in a PACE program at any time in the month; and
  • Expand PACE coverage to individuals under the age of 55.

For more information, click here.

Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Passes the Prohibiting Foreign Access to American Genetic Information Act of 2024

On March 6, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs marked up and reported out of committee the Prohibiting Foreign Access to American Genetic Information Act of 2024. The legislation, sponsored by committee chairman Gary Peters (D-MI) and Sen. Hagerty (R-TN), would:

  • Ban all biotechnology companies that are owned or controlled by a foreign adversary’s government from receiving U.S. taxpayer dollars through federal contracts, grants and loans; and
  • Implement a fast-track ban on biotechnology companies with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party including the BGI Group, MGI, Complete Genomics, WuXi AppTec and their subsidiaries.

Similar legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. Gallagher (R-WI) and Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.

For more information, click here.

MACPAC Releases March 2024 Report to Congress

On March 15, the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Payment and Access Commission released its March 2024 Report to Congress. The report’s three chapters focus on:

  • Engaging beneficiaries through Medical Care Advisory Committees to inform Medicaid policymaking;
  • Denials and appeals in Medicaid Managed Care; and
  • Annual Analysis of Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital Allotments to States.

For more information, click here.

MedPAC Releases March 2024 Report to Congress

On March 15, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released its March 2024 Report to Congress. The report outlines the recommendations MedPAC is making for updating traditional fee-for-service provider payment rates and for providing additional resources to acute care hospitals and clinicians who serve low-income Medicare beneficiaries.

The reports also contains information on the status of ambulatory surgical centers, the Medicare Advantage program and the Part D prescription drug program.

For more information, click here.

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