ACA Repeal Update

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reiterated this week his desire to release the Senate’s version of the American Health Care Act (“AHCA”) by the end of June and have a vote before the July 4 recess. However, meeting the ambitious July 4 deadline would require the Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) to produce a score on the yet undrafted legislation in less than two weeks. That would leave the Senate the week of June 26 to debate the bill and work out any floor amendments.

A more realistic timeline has the Senate passing the bill after the July 4 recess. If that happens, the more difficult proposition for Congressional Republicans will be reconciling the two AHCA bills. The Medicaid issue will have to be significantly modified in the Senate to appease Senators from Medicaid expansion states. Senators from expansion states have been advocating for a five to seven year wind down of the ACA’s enhanced federal funding for expansion.

Task Force Releases Report on Health Care Cybersecurity

On June 5, the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force released a 96-page report to Congress. The report includes six imperatives, broken down into 27 specific recommendations that largely focus on improving secure data management practices in the health care industry.

The 21-member task force was established by HHS in March 2016 per the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, Section 405(c). The task force was charged with delivering a report to Congress on improving cybersecurity practices in the health care industry. On June 8, the House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing on HHS’s role in cybersecurity to examine the newly released report and the recent WannaCry ransomware attack. The hearing followed up on the committee’s April hearing examining public-private partnerships in health care cybersecurity.

At the agency level, the FDA and HHS have been working with medical device manufacturers and other government agencies to address areas that may have been compromised. HHS is also exploring the creation of a standing cyber attack rapid response group to respond to cyber attack outbreaks.

House Committee Clears User Fee Package

On June 6, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 54 to 0 to pass its FDA user fee bill. The committee adopted a number of bipartisan amendments not included in the original bill. Other more controversial amendments were withdrawn with members pressing committee leadership to hold hearings on a number of issues including drug pricing and drug importation. The bill now moves to the House floor where it is expected to pass. The Senate is also expected to pass their version of the user fee bill before the August recess.

Health-Related Bills Introduced This Week

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced a bill (S. 1301) that would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the distribution of additional residency positions. The legislation would add 15,000 new Medicare-supported residency positions over five years at teaching hospitals in the U.S.

Sen. Nelson also introduced a related bill this week (S. 1291) that seeks to establish rules for payment for graduate medical education costs for hospitals that establish a new medical residency training program after hosting resident rotators for short durations.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced a bill (S. 1304) to amend part B of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to exclude customary prompt pay discounts from manufacturers to wholesalers from the average sales price for drugs and biologics under Medicare.

Next Week in Washington

The House and Senate return on Monday for a full legislative work week. The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a June 14 hearing to look at safety net funding and CHIP and community health center funding, which both expire September 30.