This Week in Washington: Robert Califf Confirmed as FDA Commissioner

Congress

The House is in a district work period this week.
The Senate is in a state work period this week.

Senate

Short-Term Continuing Resolution Passes Senate and is Signed by the President

On Feb. 18, President Biden signed a short-term continuing resolution (CR), averting a government shutdown and funding the government through March 11. The House had passed the measure several weeks ago, but it had been held up in the Senate. While the House and Senate are in recess this week, talks on an omnibus funding bill will continue, with all appropriation leaders saying they do not want to do another CR and instead hope to find an agreement that would fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year.

Sens. Casey and Young Introduce the BENES 2.0 Act

On Feb. 18, Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) 2.0 Act. The bill aims to simplify Medicare enrollment for seniors and people with disabilities by providing advance notice to people approaching Medicare eligibility. The BENES 2.0 Act is a follow-up to the 2020 BENES Act, which updated Medicare enrollment rules.

The bill text can be found here.

Sen. Kaine Leads Letter Calling for Development of Next-Generation COVID-19 Vaccines

On Feb. 17, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) led a group of six senators in a letter to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) Dawn O’Connell. In the letter, the senators encourage Assistant Secretary O’Connell to outline the department’s plan to develop next-generation COVID-19 vaccines. The letter was also signed by Sens. Roger Marshall (R-KS), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Tina Smith (D-MN).

The full letter can be found here.

Sen. Hassan Calls for Enforcement of ACA Birth Control Coverage Requirement

On Feb. 16, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) led a group of 33 senators in a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen requesting that the federal law guaranteeing complete coverage of birth control for women insured under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) be better enforced. The letter states that certain insurers have not complied with the ACA’s requirement and have denied coverage for birth control. In the letter, the senators called on the Departments of Labor, HHS and Labor to issue specific updated guidance and to take enforcement measures to improve compliance.

The letter can be found here.

Senate Confirms Robert Califf as FDA Commissioner

On Feb. 15, the Senate voted to confirm Robert Califf as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by a narrow vote of 50-46. Califf served as FDA Commissioner from 2016-2017 during the Obama administration. He was sworn in on Feb. 17. Janet Woodcock, who has been serving as Acting FDA Commissioner, will stay on in the role of Principal Deputy Commissioner.

Sens. Baldwin, Murphy and Shaheen Request Limits for Short-Term Insurance Plans

On Feb. 14, Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led a group of 37 senators in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting that HHS limit the sale and availability of short-term limited-duration insurance (STLDI) plans. In the letter, the senators state that STLDI plans fail to provide adequate health insurance coverage. The senators expressed concern that STLDI plans are not required to follow certain standards such as annual out-of-pocket maximums and prohibiting discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.

The letter can be found here.

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

This Week in Washington: Continuing Resolution Moves Forward and Senate Sets Up Vote on FDA Commissioner Nomination this Week

House

70 Republican House Members Call for Unwinding the Public Health Emergency Designation

On Feb. 11, House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), leading a group of 70 House Republicans, wrote to President Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, calling on them to accept the COVID-19 pandemic has become endemic, and requesting that the public health emergency designation be wound down.

The letter can be found here.

74 House Members Express Concern with CMS National Coverage Determination of Alzheimer’s Treatments

On Feb. 9, Sens. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Kevin Brady (R-TX), Brett Guthrie (R-WY) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) led a group of 74 House Republican members in a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. In the letter, members requested Secretary Becerra abandon and repropose the national coverage determination (NCD) that limited Medicare coverage for a class of Alzheimer’s treatments. The NCD only allows for Medicare coverage of Alzheimer’s treatments for clinical trials approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The letter notes that the NCD also excludes people with Down syndrome from participating in covered trials for Alzheimer’s treatments.

The letter can be found here.

House Passes Continuous Resolution to Fund Government Until March 11

On Feb. 8, the House voted 272-162 to pass a short-term government funding extension, also called a continuous resolution, that would push the funding deadline to March 11. The continuous resolution also includes an extension of Medicaid funding for territories and an extension of the Schedule 1 designation for fentanyl-related substances.

61 Members of Congress Write to Congressional Leadership Expressing Concern with the Physician Fee Schedule

On Feb. 8, Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) led 61 members of Congress in a letter to House and Senate leadership expressing their concerns regarding recent changes to the Physician Fee Schedule. In the letter, the members state that the 2022 Physician Fee Schedule cuts for office-based specialists will threaten the viability of these specialists, and request that relief be provided in upcoming omnibus appropriations legislation.

The letter can be found here.

Senate

Majority Leader Schumer Files Cloture on Califf’s Nomination

On Feb. 10, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on Dr. Robert Califf’s nomination to be Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner. This decision will limit debate on Califf’s nomination and set the stage for a full Senate vote this week.

Sens. Shaheen and Collins Introduce Bill That Aims to Ease Provider Relief Fund Requirements

On Feb. 9, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Improvement Actwhich aims to delay PRF reporting requirements until the end of the public health emergency. In addition, the bill would extend the use of PRF funding to improve workplace safety.

The bill text can be found here.

Sens. Cassidy and Baldwin Introduce Bill That Would Update Health Privacy Laws

On Feb. 9, Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Health Data Use and Privacy Commission Act, which aims to modernize health privacy laws and regulations by creating a health and privacy commission to research and make recommendations to Congress. In their press release, the senators state that healthcare technology companies have demonstrated the limits of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Sens. Sanders and Klobuchar Introduce Bill to Cap Prescription Drug Costs for Medicare Parts B and D

On Feb. 9, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced a bill that would establish a cap for covered prescription drug costs under Medicare Parts B and D. The bill would tie the Medicare reimbursement rates for prescription drugs to the rate paid by the Veterans Administration. On Wednesday afternoon Sens. Sanders and Klobuchar attempted to use a procedure that requires unanimous consent to have their bill be debated on the Senate floor, but Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) blocked the motion.

The bill text can be found here.

Sens. Thune and Menendez Introduce Bill That Aims to Incentivize Uptake of CHIP Health Services Initiatives

On Feb. 8, Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) School Behavioral Health Incentive Act. The bill aims to provide funding opportunities for states to participate in CHIP health services initiatives, or allow for states to develop their own health service initiatives with funding support from CHIP.

The bill text can be found here.

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

This Week in Washington: House Passes America COMPETES Act

 

House

House Passes COMPETES Act

On Feb. 4, the House voted 220-210 to pass the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act of 2022. The bill aims to increase investment in U.S.-made products and strengthen domestic supply chains. Specifically, the bill would increase the number of critical products at the Strategic National Stockpile, increase monitoring of foreign manufacturing sites and grant the Food and Drug Administration the authority to mandate drug recalls.

The bill text can be found here.

Senate

Sens. Thune and Casey Introduce Bill to Extend Liability Coverage to Volunteer Health Practitioners at Community Health Centers

On Feb. 3, Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Help Expand Liability Protections (HELP) for Volunteers Act. The bill would permanently extend the Public Health Service Act’s healthcare professional liability coverage for healthcare professionals volunteering at Community Health Centers (CHCs).

The bill text can be found here.

Sens. Baldwin and Cassidy Introduce Bill to Improve Pathogen Tracking

On Jan. 31, Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Tracking Pathogens Act, which aims to improve efforts to track and identify pathogens. The bill would support existing genomic sequencing efforts, establish centers of excellence and provide sustained funding.

The bill text can be found here.

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

This Week in Washington: Senate HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray and Ranking Member Richard Burr Release Discussion Draft of Bipartisan Pandemic and Public Health Response Bill


The House has a district work period this week.

House

Bicameral Democratic Health Committee Members Express Support for Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2023

On Jan. 27, members of the Bicameral Democratic Health Committee wrote to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure expressing their support for the proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) 2023 Proposed Rule. The Proposed NBPP aims to improve shopping for healthcare coverage and advance equity for consumers purchasing Marketplace coverage, and was released on Dec. 28, 2021.

The letter was signed by Reps. Richard Neal (D-MA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), who stated that the Proposed NBPP will lower healthcare costs and make coverage options more equitable.

The letter can be found here.

Senate

Sens. Murray and Burr Release Discussion Draft of Bipartisan Pandemic Bill

On Jan. 25, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) released the discussion draft of the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats (PREVENT) and Pandemics Act. The bipartisan bill aims to strengthen public health, preparedness and response systems. Specifically, the bill would improve coordination among public health preparedness agencies, strengthen supply chain and government stockpiles of medical supplies, improve detecting and monitoring capabilities and establish an independent task force to carry out a review of the COVID-19 response. The bill would also expedite the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) review of medical countermeasures and require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director be subject to Senate confirmation.

A press release on the discussion draft, which describes the bill’s measures in greater detail, can be found here.

The legislative text for the discussion draft can be found here.

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

This Week in Washington: President Biden and Speaker Pelosi Open to Moving Pieces of the Build Back Better Act

The House has a district work period this week.

House

Rep. Brady Announces Updated Ways and Means Subcommittee Assignments

On Jan. 19, the Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) released updated subcommittee assignments for the 117th Congress. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is the new ranking member of the Health Subcommittee and Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) will be joining the Ways and Means Committee and will sit on the Health Subcommittee.

The announcement with the full list of subcommittee assignments can be found here.

Senate

Republican Finance Committee Members Voice Their Opposition to Build Back Better Act’s Drug Pricing Measures

On Jan. 20, a group of 14 Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee led by Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) wrote a letter to their Senate colleagues voicing their opposition to the drug pricing measures in the House-passed Build Back Better Act. In the letter, the senators state that the drug pricing measures in the bill would undermine innovation and cause workforce disruptions.

The letter can be found here.

Republican Senators Call for Interim Final Rule Requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations to be Withdrawn

On Jan. 20, a group of 17 Republican senators wrote to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra expressing their concern with the Nov. 30 interim final rule that established vaccine and mask mandates in Head Starts and Early Head Start programs. The letter states that other COVID-19 precautions are being taken in these facilities, some district courts have granted injunctions against the final rule and the rule was made without any feedback from Head Start programs. Given these concerns, the senators request that the interim final rule be withdrawn.

The letter can be found here.

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

This week in Washington: Supreme Court Rules on Biden Administration Vaccine Mandates

House

House Democrats Introduce Bill to Increase Access to At-Home COVID-19 Tests

On Jan. 12, Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Joe Morelle (D-NY) and Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI) introduced the Free At-Home Tests for All Act. The bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to purchase enough rapid COVID-19 tests to give two tests a week to every U.S. resident, free of charge.

The bill text can be found here.

Senate

Senate HELP Committee Advances Nomination of Robert Califf for FDA Commissioner

On Jan. 13, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted to advance Robert Califf’s nomination for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner with a vote of 13-8. Two Democrats, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), opposed the nomination along with six Republicans. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) did not vote. Califf’s nomination will now go before the full Senate for a vote.

Sen. Sanders Introduces Bill to Provide N95 Masks to Everyone in the U.S.  

On Jan. 12, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the Masks for All Act, which would provide three N95 respirator masks to every person in the U.S. The bill, which was first introduced in 2020 and developed in consultation with former COVID-19 Adviser Andy Slavitt, has 15 cosponsors. The House version of the bill is led by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), with 30 additional cosponsors.

The bill text can be found here.

Sens. Cardin and Collins Introduce Bill to Extend Shelf Life of Some Prescription Drugs

On Jan. 12, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Drug Shortages Shelf Life Extension Act. The bill would update the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance regarding the shelf life of prescription drugs that are in scarce supply. In addition, the bill would require the FDA to submit a report to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and Energy and Commerce Committees with information regarding requests from the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to change prescription drug labels.

The bill text can be found here.

Sens. Luján, Collins and Casey Introduce Bill That Aims to Improve Behavioral Health Services Following Disasters and Emergencies

On Jan. 11, Sens. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Securing Uninterrupted Pandemic Preparation of Resources and Therapies (SUPPORT) Act. The SUPPORT Act aims to improve preparedness for the behavioral health needs that follow disasters, public health emergencies and other emergency events. The bill would require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide access to mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment in response to public health emergencies and would direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate SAMSHA’s programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill text can be found here.

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

This week in Washington: Build Back Better Negotiations on Hold

House

Reps. DelBene and Bucshon Call for Investment in KidneyX Initiative

On Dec. 20, Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Larry Bucshon (R-IN), co-chairs of the Congressional Kidney Caucus, led a group of 18 members of Congress in a letter requesting that the Biden administration invest $25 million in the KidneyX initiative. KidneyX is a public-private partnership between the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department and the American Society of Nephrology that aims to accelerate research into chronic kidney disease and improve kidney care.

The letter can be found linked here.

Senate

Sens. Blunt and Burr Ask How HHS Will Address the COVID-19 Test Shortage

On Jan. 3, Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Richard Burr (R-NC) wrote to Health and Human Services (HHS) Department Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting information on the Biden administration’s plan to address the shortage of COVID-19 tests. The senators note that this shortage has occurred despite federal investments of $80 billion over two years to improve testing capabilities.

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

This week in Washington: President Biden acknowledges that the Build Back Better Act might not pass Congress this year.


Congress

The House and Senate are in recess.

House

On Dec. 14, the House and Senate passed the debt ceiling increase, averting a default.

Senate

Senate Passes the Methamphetamine Response Act of 2021

On Dec. 13, the Senate voted to pass the Methamphetamine Response Act of 2021, which was introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The bill would designate methamphetamine as an emerging drug threat and require the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to implement a plan to address its use.

Sens. Baldwin and Cassidy Introduce Bill to Improve Medical Device Safety

On Dec. 14, Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Medical Device Integrity Act, which would increase the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) access to information about device manufacturers in an attempt to improve pandemic preparedness and device safety.

The bill text can be found here.

Republican Senators Introduce Bill to Limit Medicaid 1115 Waiver Denials

On Dec. 15, Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Todd Young (R-IN), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) introduced the Let States Innovate Under Medicaid Act. The bill would prevent the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from denying a Section 1115 Medicaid demonstration waiver due to the work or community engagement requirements.

The bill can be found here.

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

This week in Washington: Congress makes agreement on pathway forward to raise the debt ceiling.

House

House Passes 15 Health Bills
On Dec. 8, the House voted to pass 15 health bills. The bills, with a brief summary, can be found below.

  • The Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act (R. 3537) would award grants to certain small pharmaceutical companies to cover the costs of expanding ALS clinical trial access.
  • The Stillbirth Health Improvement and Education (SHINE) for Autumn Act of 2021 (R. 5487) would authorize states to collect data related to stillbirth risk factors and carry out education efforts.
  • The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2021 (R. 5561) would reauthorize the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
  • The Improving the Health of Children Act (R. 5551) would reauthorize the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • The Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy (CAROL) Act (R. 1193) would authorize a grant program to study valvular heart disease.
  • The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (R. 1667) would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to disseminate best practices to improve the mental health resiliency and prevent suicide among healthcare providers.
  • The Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act of 2021 (R. 4555) would require HRSA to establish a public education campaign to increase oral health literacy.
  • The Opioid Prescription Verification Act of 2021 (R. 2355) would develop trainings to help pharmacists verify the identities of people receiving controlled substance prescriptions.
  • The Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act (R. 2364) would require the CDC to carry out a public education campaign on synthetic opioids.
  • The Supporting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Regan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act (R. 3743) would increase the FDA’s and NIH’s transfer authority to fund their supporting research foundations.
  • The Collecting and Analyzing Resources Integral and Necessary for Guidance (CARING) for Social Determinants Act of 2021 (R. 3894) would require the HHS Secretary to provide assistance and guidance on how to address social determinants of health within the Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • The Social Determinants of Health Data Analysis Act of 2021 (R. 4026) would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on social determinants of health.
  • The Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act (R. 550) would allocate $400 million in grants to improve immunization information systems.
  • The Maternal Vaccination Act (R. 951) would require the CDC to increase their efforts on maternal vaccinations.
  • The Promoting Resources to Expand Vaccination, Education and New Treatments (PREVENT) for HPV Cancers Act of 2021 (R. 1550) would reauthorize a CDC program that works to promote awareness of HPV.

Reps. Griffith and Latta Introduce Bill to Permanently Schedule Fentanyl-related Substances

On Dec. 8, Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Bob Latta (R-OH) introduced the Halt Lethal Trafficking (HALT) Fentanyl Act (H.R. 2366), which would permanently place fentanyl-related substances on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Releases Report on Drug Pricing and Pharmaceutical Practices

On Dec. 10, the House Oversight and Reform Committee released the final staff report summarizing findings of a three-year investigation into pharmaceutical pricing and business practices. The investigation was launched in January 2019 by the late Committee Chair Elijah E. Cummings. Chair Carolyn Maloney said the committee investigation found that pharmaceutical companies raise prices to meet revenue targets, target the U.S. markets for higher prices and use the patent system to suppress competition, among other things.

The staff report can be found here.

Reps. Bucshon and Buchanan Lead 100 Republican Members in Letter Opposing Federal Vaccine Mandate

On Dec. 6, Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) led a group of 100 Republican House members in writing a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. In the letter, the members state their opposition to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Medicare and Medicaid service providers. In the letter, members cited concerns that the mandate will contribute to a worsening healthcare workforce shortage.

The letter can be found here.

25 Congressional Tri-Caucus Members Write Speaker Pelosi to Express Concern Regarding Medicare Reimbursement Cuts in the PFS Rule

On Dec. 6, a group of 25 members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus, led by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Danny Davis (D-IL) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to express their concern regarding Medicare reimbursement reductions in the 2022 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Final Rule. The final rule was released on Nov. 2, 2022, by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and would cut Medicare reimbursement for office-based services by 20 percent or more. The members express concern that this would negatively impact health equity.

The letter can be found here.

Rep. Devin Nunes to Retire at the End of the Year

On Dec. 8, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) announced that he would leave his seat in Jan. 2022 to lead former President Trump’s new media company. He has been in Congress since 2003. Rep. Nunes had been in line to be the most senior Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Senate

Senate and House Pass Bill to Phase in Medicare Sequester Cuts

On Dec. 7, the House passed the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act. On Dec. 9, the Senate passed the same legislation. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Extend the 2 percent Medicare sequester moratorium until March 31, 2022, re-implementing 1 percent cuts in the second quarter of 2022 and reinstating the 2 percent cut subsequently, funded by backend increased sequester cuts in fiscal year 2030;
  • Adjust the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor by 3 percent in calendar year 2022;
  • Delay Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA)-related cuts to clinical laboratory services and the next round of private payer data reporting by one year;
  • Delay implementation of the Medicare Radiation Oncology Model until 2023; and
  • Delay application of 4 percent cuts to Medicare and other federal programs resulting from statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act requirements until calendar year 2023.

Senate Passes Bill Opposing Biden Administration Vaccine Mandate

On Dec. 8, the Senate voted 52-48 to block the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements for private employers. Two Democrats, Reps. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT), sided with Republican senators on the vote. The resolution was brought under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to void federal agency rules within a certain time frame with a majority vote in the House and Senate.

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

This week in Washington: Congress passes continuing resolution, funding the government until Feb. 18.

House

Reps. McMorris Rodgers and Comer Request Information on Biden Administration Compliance With COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

On Nov. 23, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (D-WA-5) and James Comer (R-KY-1) wrote to the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Shalanda Young requesting an update on the Biden administration’s compliance with recent COVID-19 vaccination requirements for federal employees.

The full letter can be found here.

Senate

Congress Passes Continuing Resolution to Fund Government Until Feb. 18

On Dec. 2, the House and Senate voted to pass a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the government until Feb. 18, averting a government shutdown in the short term. Congress will need to adopt another measure to fund the government from Feb. 18 until the end of fiscal year 2022. The CR does not include any measures to mitigate the Medicare sequester cuts that are set to return on Jan. 1.

Sens. Tuberville and Burr Request Information on Monoclonal Antibody Contracts

On Nov. 23, Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Richard Burr (R-NC) wrote three letters requesting additional information regarding the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) and Department of Defense’s (DOD) decision to grant a $142 million contract to KPMG to promote monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment. The letters were addressed to the DOD’s Acting Undersecretary of Defense Gregory Kausner, KPMG’s S. Lawrence Kocot and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and raised concerns about the administration’s cancelling existing mAb contracts and KPMG’s public outreach campaign.

The full letter can be found here.

 

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