Legislative Activity

Bipartisan Health Legislation to be Considered on House Floor

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy released a full legislative schedule for the week of September 19, which includes votes on various health priorities. The legislation being considered includes H.R. 670, Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act; H.R. 5713, Sustaining Healthcare Integrity and Fair Treatment (SHIFT) Act of 2016; and H.R. 5659, To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act with respect to expanding Medicare Advantage coverage for individuals with end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

H.R. 670, Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) would amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to make changes to the Medicaid program. The bill would permit qualified individuals to establish their own special needs trusts; extend access to tobacco cessation services to mothers of newborns; eliminate federal matching funds for prescription drugs used for cosmetic purposes; and provide funding for the program’s improvement fund. H.R. 670 was favorably reported by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce by a voice vote and will be considered by the House under suspension of the rules.

H.R. 5713, Sustaining Healthcare Integrity and Fair Treatment (SHIFT) Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), provides regulatory relief to Long-term Care Hospitals (LTCHs). The main focus of the SHIFT Act is to provide prospective regulatory relief to all LTCHs from the “25 percent rule.” The bill would modify Medicare’s payments to LTCHs by prohibiting Medicare from paying for items or services furnished by certain newly enrolled providers in select areas of the country. In addition, the SHIFT Act provides targeted relief from the site neutral payment policy enacted as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 for four specific LTCH groups. The groups include (1) any new LTCH that has come into the Medicare program since December 26, 2013; (2) any LTCH that was in existence prior to September 3, 1982 and was exempt from the prospective payment system established in the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982; (3) any LTCH that primarily treats Medicare patients who have severe spinal cord injuries; and (4) any LTCH that was in existence after September 3, 1982 and before September 30, 1995 and is a small LTCH within another existing hospital. The bill also addresses fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The House Committee on Ways and Means favorably reported the SHIFT Act by a unanimous vote in July.

H.R. 5659, the ESRD Choice Act, introduced by Reps. Jason Smith (R-MO) and John Lewis (D-GA), will remove the current restriction on end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients so they can access affordable, effective, integrated health care options offered by Medicare Advantage. Additionally, the legislation protects low-income ESRD patients from high out-of-pocket healthcare costs by providing access to Medicare Advantage’s catastrophic coverage. H.R. 5659 was favorably reported by the House Committee on Ways and Means by a unanimous vote.

The EpiPen Cost Controversy Continues

On Wednesday, September 21, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing titled “Reviewing the Rising Price of EpiPens.” Mylan CEO Heather Bresch and Dr. Doug Throckmorton of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will both testify before the Committee. The issue of spiking drug prices is a problem and this hearing is a result of Mylan’s decision to raise the price of the EpiPen, which contains a lifesaving drug for people with severe allergies. Members of Congress will offer possible solutions that could include speeding up the FDA’s review process for generic drugs and allowing Medicare to negotiate prices. The company is facing scrutiny from republicans and democrats in both chambers.

A Path Forward for the 21st Century Cures Act

House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton is pushing to get H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, done before Congress recesses for the November election. The bill was favorably reported by the House of Representatives last summer and its Senate companion was favorably reported by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) as separate measures but the bill has not yet made it to the Senate floor. Chairman Upton and his staff are working on a new version of the bill which could be introduced in the House this week. While time is limited, Chairman Upton is pushing for the revised version of H.R. 6 to be considered in the House so the Senate could take up the bill after the November election.

Congressional Pediatric Trauma Caucus Holds Briefing on Injuries in Youth Sports

As youth across the nation head back to school, Congressional Pediatric Trauma Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) are holding a discussion on the nation’s pediatric trauma epidemic and youth sports. On Wednesday, September 21, the Congressional Pediatric Trauma Caucus will convene a panel of experts to discuss traumatic injuries on the sports field and how athletic injuries fit into the greater pediatric trauma epidemic. This briefing is the second in a series of briefings that kicked-off at a May event with NASCAR Legend Richard Childress. The panel will explore strategies to strengthen the nation’s trauma system and reduce traumatic injury in children. The briefing will be moderated by Mr. Bob Gfeller, Executive Director at the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma, and includes the following experts:

  • Brendan Campbell, Associate Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center;
  • Buddy Curry, Former Linebacker for the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and Head Master Trainer for USA Football’s Heads Up Football Program;
  • Gerry Gioia, Division Chief, Neuropsychology, Children’s National Health System;
  • Jason Mihalik, Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise and Sports Science, Matthew A. Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Injury Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
  • Shelley Timmons, Director of Neurotrauma, Penn State University Milton S. Hershey Medical Center;
  • Christopher Whitlow, Associate Professor, Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, Wake Forest Baptist Health; and
  • David Weisman, Division of Pediatric Orthopedics, Department of Orthopedic Surgeries, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The briefing will be held at 10:00 am in 121 Cannon House Office Building.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, September 20: The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a field hearing titled “An Assessment of Deficiencies at the Northport VA Medical Center.”
  • Tuesday, September 20: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing titled “Laboratory Testing in the Era of Precision Medicine.”
  • Tuesday, September 20 and Wednesday, September 21: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a markup on a number of legislative priorities including H.R. 1192, National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission; H.R. 1209, Improving Access to Maternity Care Act; H.R. 1877, Mental Health First Aid; H.R. 2713, Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2015; H.R. 3537, Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2015; and H.R. 4365, Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2016.
  • Wednesday, September 21: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a markup on a number of legislative priorities including S. 2873, Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act and S. 2932, Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act.
  • Wednesday, September 21: The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will hold a hearing titled “Combatting the Opioid Epidemic: A Review of Anti-Abuse Efforts for Federal Authorities and Private Insurers.”
  • Wednesday, September 21: The House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing titled “Understanding Social Security’s Solvency Challenge.”
  • Wednesday, September 21: The House Committee on the Budget will hold a hearing titled “Restoring the Trust for Families and Working-Age Americans.”
  • Wednesday, September 21: The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a markup on a number of legislative priorities including S. 2953, Indian Health Services (IHS) Accountability Act.
  • Wednesday, September 21: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing titled “Reviewing the Rising Price of EpiPens.”
  • Wednesday, September 21: The Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing titled “Prioritizing Public Health: The FDA’s Role in the Generic Drug Marketplace.”
  • Thursday, September 22: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing titled “Exploring Current Practices in Cosmetic Development and Safety.”
  • Thursday, September 22: The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will hold a hearing titled “Exploring a Right to Try for Terminally Ill Patients.”
  • Thursday, September 22: The House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law will hold a hearing titled “Treating the Opioid Epidemic: The State of Competition in the Markets for Addiction Medicine.”
  • Friday, September 23: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing titled “Bioresearch Labs and Inactivation of Dangerous Pathogens.”