Yesterday the House of Representatives approved the following health policy bills:

  • H.R. 284, the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Improvement Act of 2015 – which would require Medicare suppliers that bid under a DME, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program to obtain a $50,000-$100,000 bid surety bond for each competitive bidding area (CBA).  If the bidder is offered a contract for any product category in the CBA, and the supplier’s bid for the product category was at or below the median composite bid rate that was used to calculate single payment amounts, the bid bond would be forfeited if the supplier does not accept the contract.   In all other cases, the bid bond would be returned to the bidder.  The bill is intended to prevent  suppliers from submitting not-binding, “low-ball” bids that artificially drive down prices and jeopardize beneficiary access to equipment.   The bill also would codify that competitive bidding contracts can only be awarded to suppliers that meet applicable state licensure requirements.
  • H.R. 876, the “NOTICE Act” – which would require hospitals and critical access hospitals to provide written and oral notification to Medicare beneficiaries classified as being under observation status for more than 24 hours, rather than admitted as inpatients.  Such notice would include an explanation of the implications of observation status for beneficiary cost-sharing obligations and subsequent skilled nursing facility eligibility.
  • H.R. 639, Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act – to amend the Controlled Substances Act to improve the efficiency, transparency, and consistency of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) process for scheduling new drugs.  According to the bill sponsor, the lack of predictability in the timing of DEA scheduling decisions results in uncertainty in the drug development process and delays patient access to new therapies.
  • H.R. 647, Access to Life-Saving Trauma Care for All Americans Act –  to reauthorize certain Public Health Service Act trauma care center grants.  
  • H.R. 648, Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act – to reauthorize grants supporting state and rural development of trauma systems and authorize new regionalized emergency care model pilot projects.

The bills are now awaiting Senate consideration.