POLICY BRIEFINGS


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.


THIS WEEK'S BRIEFING - JUNE 11, 2012


House Passes Bill to Kill PPACA Medical Device Tax


As scheduled, the House voted 270-146 to pass the PPACA-related omnibus bill H.R. 436, which would repeal the PPACA medical device tax, repeal the ban on the use of tax-free money in flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) to purchase over-the-counter medicines without a prescription and allow up to $500 of unspent money in FSAs to be returned to account holders.  The $37 billion cost of the bill is offset by requiring individuals to return to the Treasury any PPACA premium assistance tax credits which are made in error.  Senate Republicans will attempt to overcome Democrat leadership opposition to take up the bill.  The White House issued a veto threat on the bill, objecting mainly to the offset mechanism.


LHHS and FDA FY 2013 Appropriations


The Chairman of the House Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Subcommittee intends to unveil the subcommittee’s FY 2013 spending bill by June 20th.  The Ryan budget resolution, which controls FY 2013 spending in the House, allows for $150 billion in discretionary budget authority for the year which is about $7 billion below this year’s spending level.  Apparently the chairman has obtained sufficient Republican votes to move the bill to full committee.  The Senate Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Subcommittee plans to mark up its version this Tuesday.  Although the House is likely to act on the Labor/HHS bill, it also appears more and more likely that this bill, among other spending bills, will be folded into a CR to get final budget negotiations into a lame-duck session this fall.  The House Agriculture/FDA Appropriations Subcommittee voice voted its FY 2013 spending bill which provides for $2.5 billion in discretionary spending for the FDA.  The bill does not include an allocation for biosimilar and generic drug user fees, pending the resolution of an authorization for the new FDA program in a House/Senate conference (yet to begin) on the user fee legislation.  Last week the House also approved the FY 2013 Homeland Security, Energy and Water and Legislative Branch appropriations bills.


House Judiciary Committee Moves Phrma Legislation


The House Judiciary Committee passed legislation, H.R. 3668, which would make the criminal penalties for counterfeiting drugs the same as counterfeiting military goods, e.g. allowing maximum fines and prison terms of $5 million or 20 years, or both, for an individual’s first offense.  The Senate passed a similar measure, S. 1886, on March 6th.  The committee also passed H.R. 4223, legislation that would increase penalties for the theft of pre-retail medical products, including drugs, medical devices and infant formula.  This bill parallels a similar bill, S. 1002, passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 8th.



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