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.


Coalition Calls for 21st Century Cures Delay

A coalition of thirteen liberal groups is calling for passage of the 21st Century Cures legislation to be delayed until next year in order to attach solutions to decrease the cost of prescription drugs. The Center for American Progress, AFLCIO, Alliance for Retired Americans, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, American Federation of Teachers, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., Consumers Union, Doctors for America, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Public Citizen, Service Employees International Union, Social Security Works, and Unite HERE Health wrote to Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate urging them to work to improve the legislation in the next session of Congress. “Moving forward with this legislation now would be a missed opportunity to address unaffordable prescription drug prices,” the groups write. “There is no justification for moving forward with legislation that provides substantial benefits to the drug industry without asking for something in return.” In response to the letter, a spokesperson for Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said they are continuing to work with their Republican and Senate colleagues to proceed on the legislation, but that the bill “must include policies that facilitate access to affordable drugs and do not exacerbate rising drug prices in this country while also allowing for innovation to help treat diseases.” The spokesperson said that the final bill must also include funding for priorities like the Cancer Moonshot. Congressional leadership has committed to passing the medical innovations bill during the lame-duck session, but it is unclear whether such provisions would gain any Republican support. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) issued a press release reminding everyone that more than 700 groups encompassing patient advocacy groups, rare disease groups, cancer centers, technology groups, top universities, biopharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, and others from across the country rallied in support of the bill when it passed the House last year.

Exchange Plan Premiums See Average Rise of 25 Percent

The cost of the most popular plan on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges will rise by an average of 25 percent, according to data released by the Administration last week. This increase is more than triple the jump in premiums seen last year, and the largest price hike yet experienced since the launch of HealthCare.gov. The 16 percent of the 1.3 million people who purchase health insurance through the federal marketplace but do not currently receive subsidies will be subject to the increase. Approximately 260,000 people, however, could become newly eligible for subsidies, which will also increase given the rising premiums. Generally, more rural areas like Arizona will see a steeper price increase, while some states like Indiana will actually see a decline in premium prices. The Administration stressed that most people will experience below average premium increases, given the median premium increase of 16 percent across plans. Additionally, plans costing $75 or less per month will still be available to seven out of 10 people. The fourth open enrollment season will begin on November 1. 

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