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.


NIH Awards to Support Incorporation of Genomic Data in EHRs

A dozen grants to support research into the incorporation of DNA sequence information into electronic medical records will be administered by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced last week. These awards represent the third phase of the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) program, a precision medicine initiative aimed at better understanding the genomic basis of disease and tailoring medical care to individual patients based on their genomic differences. Grantees will focus on the clinical application of genomic research through identifying the potential medical effects of genomic variants in approximately 100 clinically relevant genes. This phase of eMERGE will examine the most effective ways to provide DNA test results to patients and ways in which physicians can use this information to improve treatment and practice.

Organizations Call for Inclusion of Children in Precision Medicine Initiative

Thirty-three organizations have written to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Precision Medicine Working Group urging the inclusion of children in the federal effort to develop disease treatments tailored to individual’s genetic profile. The signers argue that a wide range of child health issues could be studied if children were included in the research cohort, including maternal health during pregnancy, childhood wellness, and rare diseases like pediatric cancers. The Precision Medicine Initiative aims to use a research cohort of one million or more Americans who agree to share their health data. “Childhood experiences set that basis for adult health, meaning that the examination of child health will undoubtedly yield important insights for promoting adult health and preventing disease,” the letter says. The Working Group is expected to release recommendations for the structure of the precision medicine research within the coming weeks. not raised by that time.

CMS to Test Value-Based Insurance Design in Medicare Advantage

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the launch of the Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design Model, which will examine whether providing Medicare Advantage plans flexibility in offering targeted supplemental benefits or reduced cost sharing to enrollees with specific chronic conditions can lower cost or increase quality of care. The goal of the model is to improve beneficiary health, reduce utilization of avoidable high-cost care, and reduce costs for both plans and beneficiaries, as well as the Medicare program. It will focus on beneficiaries with diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), past stroke, hypertension, coronary artery disease, mood disorders, and combinations of these conditions. The model will begin on January 1, 2017 and continue for five years in Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

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