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.


Administration Proposes Expansion of Short-Term Insurance Plans

The Trump Administration has proposed to increase the availability of short-term health insurance plans that are exempt from many of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) consumer protections. The Obama Administration had reduced the plans’ maximum length from one year to three months in an effort to move more people into comprehensive coverage. The White House proposal would restore the 12-month limit on short-term plans. The Trump Administration argues that the plans offer consumers cheaper coverage and expand choice, competition, and access to health care. Detractors say the plans could destabilize the individual health insurance marketplaces and would undermine popular Obamacare provisions – like protections for pre-existing medical conditions and coverage of essential health benefits (EHBs). The administration predicts that between 100,000 and 200,000 individuals would opt for short-term plans instead of Obamacare plans in 2019, and that the proposal would have a very limited impact on individual market premiums. The proposed rule is open for public comment until April 23.

E&C Hearing This Week on 8 Opioid Bills

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee announced the bills that will be the subject of the first of three legislative hearings to examine the opioid crisis and possible solutions related to the Controlled Substances Act. Wednesday’s hearing will focus on the balance between enforcement and patient safety. The subcommittee will consider:

  • H.R. 2851, the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act, to clarify how controlled substances are to be regulated;
  • H.R. 5041, the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act, to authorize the employees of a hospice program to handle controlled substances in the residence of a deceased hospice patient to assist in disposal;
  • H.R. __, the Ensuring Patient Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatments Act of 2018, to update federal law to improve dispensing of implantable and injectable therapies developed to make abuse, misuse, and diversion more difficult;
  • H.R. __, the Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act of 2018, to clarify telemedicine waivers for the prescription of controlled substances via telemedicine in legitimate emergency situations;
  • H.R. __, the Improving Access to Remote Behavioral Health Treatment Act of 2018, to promulgate regulations for community mental health or addiction treatment centers to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to engage in the practice of telemedicine;
  • H.R. __, the Tableting and Encapsulating Machine Regulation Act of 2018, to give the DEA the authority to regulate the use of tableting and encapsulating machines with requirements for the maintenance of records, inspections for verifying location and stated use, and security provisions;
  • H.R. 2063, the Opioid Preventing Abuse through Continuing Education (PACE) Act of 2017, to require certain training as a condition of registration to prescribe or dispense opioids for the treatment of pain or pain management; and
  • H.R. 4275, Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act, to provide for the development and dissemination of programs and materials for training pharmacists, health care providers, and patients on indicators that a prescription is fraudulent, forged, or otherwise indicative of abuse or diversion.
Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) hopes to pass legislation related to the opioid epidemic in the House before Memorial Day weekend.

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