June 19, 2023
This Week in Health Policy for June 19
This Week (June 19 - 22)
The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health will hold a legislative hearing on pending legislation
The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee will hold a legislative hearing on employer-related bills
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Legislative Hearing: "Responding to America's Overdose Crisis: An Examination of Legislation to Build Upon the SUPPORT Act"
The Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing: "Competition and Transparency: The Pathway Forward for a Stronger Health Care Market."
The House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing: "MACRA Checkup: Assessing Implementation and Challenges that Remain for Patients and Doctors."
Last Week (June 12 - 16)
Health Care Highlights
Biden names new CDC director. On Friday (June 16), President Biden announced his intent to appoint Mandy Cohen to be the next director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after Rochelle Walensky leaves this month. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said following the appointment, "Dr. Mandy Cohen is a renowned physician and public health expert. She led North Carolina through the pandemic with a steady hand and strategy focused on restoring trust in public health institutions. She also created innovative public health programs to equitably connect communities to care, including preventive care."
Biden admin highlights youth mental health resources. On Friday (June 16), HHS and the Department of Education announced they have sent joint letters to state governors highlighting federal grant funding available under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to support youth mental health.
HHS proposes regulation updates to help older adults live in their homes. On Thursday (June 15), HHS issued a proposed rule that updates regulations for programs created under the Older Americans Act, including home-delivered meals and family caregiver support. HHS said the rule aims to align care for older adults with today's standards.
CMS announces new resources and flexibilities on Medicaid redeterminations. On Monday (June 12), CMS released new materials and announced flexibilities intended to help states assist Medicaid enrollees complete renewals or connect to other coverage as part of the Medicaid redetermination process. Some of the new flexibilities include:
Biden admin publishes spring regulatory agenda. On Wednesday (June 14), the Biden administration released its spring regulatory agenda, which includes publishing timelines for policies related to the No Surprises Act, short-term limited duration health insurance, telemedicine prescribing for buprenorphine, and more.
Appeals court leaves ACA preventive services mostly intact. On Tuesday (June 13), a federal appeals court extended a temporary stay on a ruling that struck down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that employers and insurers cover preventive health services without cost sharing while a legal challenge continues. In a deal reached this week, the ruling will only remain in effect in Texas, where plaintiffs filed the lawsuit challenging the ACA provision.
Hearings, Markups, and Other Committee Action
The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee held a markup of legislation on health care program reauthorizations and NIH report requirements related to Alzheimer's research. On Thursday (June 15), the Committee advanced with bipartisan support six bills related to Alzheimer's research, rural emergency medical services, the special diabetes program, and research into heritable blood disorders.
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing on "Examining Proposals That Provide Access To Care For Patients And Support Research For Rare Diseases." On Wednesday (June 14), the Subcommittee held a legislative hearing to consider nine bills related to health care research and access to care. There was bipartisan support for bills to reauthorize several health care and research programs, as well as some bipartisan support for bills to establish a national project to combat and cure Parkinson's and clarify Medicaid's authority to use direct primary care and other models to improve primary care. But most of the debate focused on provisions in the Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2023 (HR 3887) to ban certain gender-affirming care procedures from being performed at GME-supported Children's Hospitals. Democrats lambasted Republicans for the provision and accused them of inserting politics into medicine and urged the subcommittee to pass a clean reauthorization.
The House Appropriations Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Subcommittee held a markup of FY 2024 FDA appropriations. On Wednesday (June 14), the Subcommittee voted 34-27 to advance its appropriations bill funding the FDA for fiscal year 2024, which includes a provision to walk back the agency's updated safety program for mifepristone.
The Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on "Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Department of Health and Human Services." On Tuesday (June 13), the Committee heard testimony from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on President Biden's FY 2024 budget request for HHS. During the hearing, committee Republicans spoke critically of gender-affirming care procedures and HHS' handling of migrant children.
The Committee on Education and the Workforce held a mark up of telehealth legislation. On Tuesday (June 13), the Committee voted 21-14 to advance H.R.824, the Telehealth Benefit Expansion for Workers Act of 2023, which would allow employers to offer stand-alone telehealth benefits.
The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on "Care Coordination: Assessing Veteran Needs and Improving Outcomes." On Tuesday (June 13), the Subcommittee held a hearing that examined care coordination challenges at the VA. During the hearing, VA officials discussed a new model they are rolling out, the Care Coordination Integrated Care Management (CCICM) model, to identify a single case manager to work with the veteran and coordinate care being overseen by individual case managers at the specialty level. Witnesses raised concerns with the VA's past efforts to coordinate care but agreed veterans would benefit from a single point of contact for care coordination. Several lawmakers pressed the VA to hold workers who are directly involved in veterans' care accountable when care needs are not met.
Reports, Studies, and Journals
Health Affairs: National Health Expenditure Projections, 2022-31: Growth To Stabilize Once The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Ends. The annual report projects that national health expenditures will surpass $7 trillion and account for nearly one-fifth of the U.S. economy in 2031. The report projects hospital spending will increase an average of 5.8% annually from 2022 to 2031, compared with 5.3% for physician and clinical services spending and 4.6% for prescription drug spending.
MedPAC: June 2023 Report to Congress: Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System. The annual June report to Congress details the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's policy recommendations. The report features 10 chapters that cover a range of topics, including the high price of Medicare Part B drugs, standardizing benefits in Medicare Advantage plans, aligning Medicare payments across ambulatory settings, telehealth utilization in Medicare, and more.
MACPAC: June 2023 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP. The annual June report to Congress details the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission's (MACPACs) policy recommendations. The report features four chapters that cover safety-net hospitals, care integration for dual eligibles, coverage access for adults leaving incarceration, and barriers to Medicaid home and community-based services.