As Congress is back to Washington for its next work period, ML Strategies has published an Advisory outlining health care issues on the radar for the upcoming weeks.  Highlights include: legislative initiatives on opioid abuse, mental health access, chronic care and a group of innovation bills; the FDA Commissioner nomination; and Medicare Advantage (MA) lobbying efforts.

ML Strategies reminds us that the current Congressional environment – with a possible diversion of resources to a FY 2017 budget, and the impact of Justice Scalia’s death and election year politics – will impact all legislative considerations, including health care initiatives.

Within health care, legislation addressing the opioid epidemic, mental health access and chronic care are in various stages within Congress. We may see a Senate vote on its opioid bill in this work period.  And the Senate HELP and Finance committees are working on bills addressing mental health access and chronic care, respectively, with a possible extension to the Independence at Home Demonstration project. A host of innovation bills are in process, but it is not clear how much they will progress during this session.

Another hot issue is the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf to be FDA Commissioner – on Monday, the Senate voted to advance his nomination, and today confirmed his nomination.

Last but not least, industry groups and House members alike are asking CMS to prevent further cuts to Medicare Advantage in 2017. Over 300 Representatives have signed a letter asking CMS to keep Medicare Advantage affordable and available to seniors, and America’s Health Insurance Plan also joined the effort to lobby against further payment cuts to the program.

For more information on what to expect from Congress on health care, please see the full Advisory from ML Strategies.