April 2 Policy Summit on America’s Healthcare Cost Crisis

Healthcare and business leaders, patient advocates, and policy experts will convene in Washington, DC on April 2nd to explore the impact of high healthcare costs on individuals, businesses, the economy, and the state of public health. Participants will map out immediate and long-term policy recommendations supporting improved healthcare quality and lower costs, including for prescription drugs. “High Costs, Broken Promises: West Health’s 2019 Healthcare Costs Innovation Summit” will feature the unveiling of results from a new national survey from Gallup and the West Health Institute on how skyrocketing healthcare costs are impacting the daily lives of Americans. Participants will hear from keynote Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and speakers from Humana, Walmart, and Intermountain Healthcare. Former Governor of Ohio, John Kasich and former Secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Mike Leavitt, Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius will also share their perspectives. For more information and to register for this free public event, visit www.hcidc.org.

House Passes Health Care Fraud, Poison Control Measures

The House of Representatives passed two pieces of healthcare-related legislation last week. H.R. 525, the Strengthening the Healthcare Fraud Prevention Task Force Act of 2019, would codify a public-private partnership responsible for identifying and preventing health care fraud through data and information sharing. The Healthcare Fraud Prevention Partnership (HFPP) is currently operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and provides a forum for the federal government, state agencies, law enforcement, private health insurance plans, and health care and fraud associations to share successful anti-fraud practices. H.R. 501, the Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2019, would reauthorize the national network of Poison Control Centers. Both bills passed by voice vote.

Senators Comment on Insulin and FDA Biosimilars Guidance

A bipartisan group of senators have written to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the pace of approvals for generic insulin products. The lawmakers requested that the agency amend a 2018 agency guidance that was meant to ease the approval pathway for biosimilar products. The letter expressed concern that while the guidance will bring new insulin options onto the market in 2020, it could delay the introduction of insulin generics in the short-term. The letter was signed by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

Pallone Requests Details on HIV/AIDS Initiative

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) is asking the administration for more details on its plan to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. Pallone seeks clarification regarding how existing Trump Administration policies, such as proposed budget cuts to federal HIV/AIDS programs, a proposed rule that could impact access to HIV medication, Medicaid waivers, and recent changes to the Title X abortion funding, might impact the initiative to end HIV in the U.S. The letter also requests a briefing from HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Pallone requested a response from HHS by March 11.

Lawmakers Push for Delay of Health Insurance Tax (HIT)

A bipartisan group of freshman senators have written to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) urging the chamber to take up legislation to delay the health insurance tax (HIT) beyond 2020. The lawmakers expressed concerns about the potential impact of the HIT on seniors and small businesses. The letter was signed by freshman senators Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.). Additionally, legislation was introduced last week to delay the tax until after 2021. H.R. 1398 was introduced in the House by Reps. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), and Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) and S. 172 has been introduced in the Senate.

Ensuring Lasting Smiles Reintroduced

Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have reintroduced bipartisan legislation to ensure health insurance for the treatment of individuals born with congenital anomalies or birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate, skeletal and maxillofacial abnormalities, facial paralysis, microtia, hypodontia, and craniosynostosis. The Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA) would close a coverage gap that occurs when health plans deny claims for oral or dental-related procedures deeming them cosmetic in nature or covered under a separate dental plan. Bipartisan companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Denver Riggleman (R-Va.).

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