Dec. 7 Deadline Approaches for Funding Parts of Federal Gov.

Negotiations over appropriations for several major federal agencies is currently ensnared in a debate on funding for the construction of the President’s proposed wall along the U.S. southern border. Congress faces a December 7 deadline to avoid a shutdown and fund the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), State, Interior, Agriculture (including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)), Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Justice departments. Lawmakers have already passed the other five appropriations bills necessary to fund the rest of the federal government for FY 2019. The Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on $1.6 billion for border security funding, but House Republicans and the White House are demanding at least $5 billion. An official House-Senate conference on a four-bill package (H.R. 6147) has been underway for weeks. The legislation would combine Interior-Enviornment, Financial Services, Agriculture-FDA, and Transportation-HUD. House Republicans are also reportedly considering an all-encompassing spending package that would tie funding for a southern border wall with hurricane and wildfire relief funds.

Separate complications could also arise, however, from Senate Democrats. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has threated to tie legislation protecting Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to the must-pass spending bill.

Grassley, Durbin Push for Implementation of Drug Price Disclosure

Sens. Chuck Grassley (RIowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have written to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma calling for the implementation of a proposed regulation that would require the disclosure of prescription drug prices in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising by pharmaceutical manufacturers. Grassley and Durbin characterize the proposal as a “bipartisan, common-sense strategy to boost competition and help Americans struggling with outrageously high and skyrocketing drug costs.” The lawmakers also wrote to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting a study on the impact of consumer advertising on drug prices.

AMA Approves Prior Authorization Resolution

The American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates voted to approve a resolution urging the Trump administration to limit the use of prior authorization in Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed care plans. The resolution also urges Congress to pass legislation on prior authorization. The AMA wants plans to list the services and medications that require prior authorization on a website, in addition to ensuring that patient informational materials disclose any prior authorization requirements. The AMA also supports standardization of prior authorization request forms, and health provider notification of any changes to prior authorization requirements at least 45 days in advance.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Meetings

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing to examine reducing health care costs, focusing on improving affordability through innovation; 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; November 28

Senate HELP Committee oversight hearing to examine the FDA, focusing on leveraging cuttingedge science and protecting public health; 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; December 5

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing “Tracking Transformation: VA MISSION Act Implementation;” 10:00 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.; December 6

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