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June 24, 2024

This Week in Health Policy for June 24

This Week (June 24 - 28)

This week, the House is in session, while the Senate will be in recess. We also expect a potential markup of privacy legislation at the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

House Ways & Means Committee will hold a hearing on "Health Subcommittee Hearing on Improving Value-Based Care for Patients and Providers."

  • Date: Wednesday, June 26 at 3pm ET
  • More information available here.

House Committee on Education & the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing on "Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Employee Benefits Security Administration."

  • Date: Thursday, June 27 at 10:15am ET
  • More information available here.

 Last Week (June 17 - 21)

Health Care Highlights

Appeals court rules in preventive services case. On Friday (June 21), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in the highly anticipated Braidwood v. Becerra case challenging the Affordable Care Act's preventive services provision. In its ruling, the appeals court overturned the nationwide injunction on preventive services recommended by the Preventive Services Task Force, but said the plaintiffs do not need to cover the preventive services challenged in their case. The court also said members of the task force will need to be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The court sent back to the lower court the issue of whether HHS used the Appointments Clause in ratifying advisory committee recommendations.

CMS announces rural health hackathon. On Friday (June 21), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will host the 2024 Rural Health Hackathon over three dates this summer, bringing together rural health leaders, industry and tech entrepreneurs, community organizations, and more together to develop actionable ways to address rural health challenges. The hack-a-thon will be hosted in Bozeman, Montana on August 14; Dallas, Texas on August 22; and Wilson, North Carolina on August 29. Those interested should complete a survey by July 12.

Judge allows health care provider websites to use tracking technology. On Thursday (June 20), a United States District Court Judge in Texas vacated a Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) bulletin stating that health care providers who use website tracking technology may violate HIPAA.

Senate Finance Chair unveils maternity care bill. On Monday (June 17), Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and 15 Senate Democrats released a draft bill that aims to address maternity health deserts and improve maternity care in rural areas. The draft bill is arranged into four categories: Enhancing financial support for rural and safety-net hospitals, expanding maternal health coverage, new workforce investments, and new public communication requirements related to closures. Click here for a section-by-section. Click here for the draft bill.

CMS to end Advanced Payment Program related to Change Healthcare cyberattack. On Monday (June 17), the CMS announced it is ending is accelerated and advanced payment program set up to support providers impacted by the Change Healthcare cyberattack. The program, which has provided more than $3 billion in payments to Medicare providers and suppliers, will no longer accept new applications as of July 12 and providers or suppliers experiencing payment delays beyond that date should contact UnitedHealthcare or their Medicare Administrative Contractor.

US hits nurse visa quota. This week, the State Department announced that the US has met its annual limit for nursing visas and would not issue new nurse visas until the limit resets October 1.

FDA releases draft guidance on biosimilar interchangeability. Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled new draft guidance that would eliminate switching studies as a requirement for biosimilar drug sponsors seeking interchangeable status. If finalized, the guidance would replace FDA's currently policy requiring switching studies to demonstrate a biosimilar is interchangeable with a reference product, easing the process for drug developers to get the designation. The FDA is accepting comments until August 20.

Hearings, Markups, and Other Committee Activity

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on "Work and Social Security Disability Benefits: Addressing Challenges and Creating Opportunities." On Tuesday (June 18), the Committee held a hearing during which lawmakers discussed ways to improve work incentives for individuals on Social Security disability programs. During the discussion, some lawmakers also raised concerns about Social Security disability overpayments and the negative impact on beneficiaries.

  • More information available here.

Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing on "Origins of COVID-19: An Examination of Available Evidence." On Tuesday (June 18), the Committee held a hearing that discussed the origins of COVID-19 and heard from a panel of witnesses representing academics on ways to learn from the pandemic and apply those lessons moving forward. During the hearing, Committee Chair Gary Peters (D-MI) stressed the importance of examining "available scientific evidence" as opposed to relying on unsubstantiated theories.

  • More information available here.

Reports, Studies, and Journals

Kaiser Family Foundation: A Look at Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility, Enrollment, and Renewal Policies During the Unwinding of Continuous Enrollment and Beyond. The survey found most states have updated their Medicaid and CHIP enrollment and eligibility processes following the Medicaid redetermination process, with simplified renewal forms, expanded beneficiary outreach methods and more.

Congressional Budget Office: Budgetary Effects of Policies That Would Increase Hepatitis C Treatment. CBO projects that expanding hepatitis C treatment within the Medicaid population would "more than offset direct spending on that treatment." CBO estimated that a 10% peak increase in hepatitis C treatment would result in "averted federal spending on health care of about $0.7 billion between 2025 and 2034."

Health Affairs: Health Insurance Coverage Projections For The US Population And Sources Of Coverage, By Age, 2024-34. In the study, CBO estimated that 7.7% of the US population is uninsured in 2024 and projected that the uninsured population will increase to 8.9% by 2034 in part due to the Medicaid redetermination process and the expiration of enhanced federal subsidies for the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. CBO projected Medicare enrollment will increase from 60 million in 2023 to 74 million in 2034.

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Contact Information

For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:

Washington Council Ernst & Young