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.


House Passes RTT, STAR Legislation

The House of Representatives passed S. 292, the Childhood Cancer STAR Act by voice vote last week. The bipartisan bill will advance research on survivorship and treatments for pediatric cancer. It will also bolster the surveillance of pediatric cancer and require the National Cancer Advisory Board to include at least one pediatric oncology expert. S. 292 passed the Senate in March by unanimous consent. The House also passed S. 204, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017, by a vote of 250-169 that fell largely along party lines. Twenty-two Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the bill. The legislation will give terminally ill patients access to experimental treatments that have not yet been approved for commercial distribution by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The investigational products must have successfully completed a phase 1 clinical trial. The Senate passed the bill in August 2017 by unanimous consent. The policy has been a top priority for the Trump Administration. Both bills now head to the President’s desk for his signature.

Senate Passes VA Choice Reform Legislation

The Senate passed S. 2372, the VA MISSION Act of 2018, by a vote of 92-5 last week. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) voted against the legislation. The veterans’ health bill will provide $5.2 billion to extend the Veterans Choice program, which was scheduled to run out of money at the end of the month. The legislation would also expand veteran eligibility to receive care outside the VA through private doctors and hospitals. The bill passed the House last week in a 347-70 vote. It will now be sent to President Trump for his signature.

In related news, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) has signaled that his panel will convene a hearing next month on the nomination of acting secretary Robert Wilkie to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mt.) has indicated that he will support the nomination, stating that Wilkie is a strong candidate for the position.

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