Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


21st Century Cures, Innovation Act to be Considered Before Summer Recess

Congress returns on Tuesday for the final weeks of the summer session. The 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6) is scheduled for consideration by the House of Representatives later in this week. The Innovation Act (H.R. 9), regarding patent infringement, is scheduled to be considered on the House floor later this month, according to a memo from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-C0alif.). The 21st Century Cures Act currently has 230 bipartisan cosponsors, notable because only 218 votes are needed for passage of the bill. Floor consideration of H.R. 6 could begin as early as Wednesday of this week. The House schedule also includes Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) patent reform legislation, the Innovation Act. The pharmaceutical industry continues to push for changes to the bill to exempt drug manufacturers from a patent review process. The Majority Leader’s memo does not mention any time to be set aside for budget reconciliation, nor is there any mention of the July 24 deadline for congressional committees to develop a budget reconciliation package that addresses changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The final weeks of the legislative session are usually reserved for action on annual spending bills, though the House has already advanced the non-controversial appropriations measures and only the most controversial bills remain. The current fiscal year ends on September 30.

Doc Caucus Comments on USPSTF Mammogram Recommendations

The GOP Doctors Caucus has written to Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Burwell, urging her to ensure that the most recent draft mammogram guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) are not finalized. The USPSTF updated their guidelines earlier this year, recommending that some women need the breast cancer screening procedure less frequently due to the utility of mammograms and the potential cost of false-positive diagnoses. “We believe that patients and the medical providers with whom they have an established relationship—who themselves follow clinical guidelines developed by their specialty societies—should decide which diagnostic tools are most appropriate in a given case,” the Doc Caucus writes. “Should the USPSTF recommendations become finalized, they will have a chilling effect on coverage for diagnostic mammograms, jeopardizing the health of American women.” The letter follows success from Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, who added language to the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill that would delay for one year the effects of the guidelines.

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