Goodlatte Announces Retirement Plans

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodatte (R-Va.) announced that he would not be seeking reelection next year. Rep. Goodlatte’s chairmanship will end in December due to term limits. The announcement brings the total number of House member retirements this year to 14, twelve of which are Republicans.

Opioid Epidemic Updates

More than 900,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected during the 14th annual Prescription Drug Take Back Day last week. The event, organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), was particularly important this year in light of the declaration of the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week has found that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) failed to identify a significant number of seniors at risk for becoming addicted to prescription painkillers. The agency only flagged 33,223 Medicare beneficiaries at high risk of opioid abuse, while 727,016 were actually at risk of receiving high doses of opioids. The report was originally requested by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

CMS Finalizes Cuts to 340B

In a final rule released this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized its proposal to reduce Medicare reimbursement for separately payable outpatient drugs purchased by hospitals under the 340B drug discount program from average sales price (ASP) plus six percent to ASP minus 22.5 percent. The goal of the policy is to align Medicare payment with the amount that hospitals are actually spending to acquire the drugs. Rural sole community hospitals, children’s hospitals, and some cancer hospitals will be exempt from the drug payment reductions, scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2018.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Meetings

Senate Finance Committee Open Executive Session to Consider an Original Bill Entitled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; 3:00 p.m., 215 Dirksen Bldg.; November 13

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing “Gene Editing Technology: Innovation and Impact;” 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; November 14

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing “Encouraging Healthy Communities: Perspective from the Surgeon General;” 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; November 15

House Appropriations Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee oversight hearing on Veterans Affairs Electronic Health Record; 10:00 a.m., 2362-A Rayburn Bldg.; November 15

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee nomination hearing; 2:30 p.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; November 15

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Hearing on VA Efforts to Prevent and Combat Opioid Over Medication; 2:30 p.m., 124 Dirksen Bldg.; November 15

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