21st Century Cures Advances to Senate
Last week the Senate amendment to H.R. 34, the Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act of 2015 (21st Century Cures Act) overwhelmingly passed the House by a vote of 392 yeas to 26 nays. The bipartisan innovation package is the result of over two years of work spearheaded by Rep. Fred Upton(R-MI) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of cures to patients. The Senate will convene to resume consideration the 21st Century Cures Act on Monday, December 5, and they are expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday, December 6. President Obama voiced his support for the bipartisan legislation and encouraged the Senate to promptly pass the bill. He is expected to sign the bill into law before the end of the year.
Health Bills Scheduled for House Floor
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced the chamber may consider two health bills in the coming week. On Tuesday, December 6, the House is expected to consider H.R. 3381, the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act of 2015, and S. 2873, Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act under suspension of the rules. H.R. 3381 was introduced by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Jackie Speier (D-CA). The legislation expands opportunities for childhood cancer research; betters childhood cancer surveillance; improves quality of life for childhood cancer survivors; ensures access to compassionate use policies; and guarantees pediatric expertise at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). S. 2873 was introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), to study technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models and the ability of those models to improve patient care and provider collaboration. S. 2873 was favorably reported by the Senate last week with a roll call vote of 97 yeas to 0 nays.
MedPAC Meeting This Week
On Thursday, December 8, and Friday, December 9, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) will hold a meeting to discuss Medicare policy issues and questions, as well as develop recommendations for Congress. The agenda includes the following topics:
- The Medicare Advantage program: status report;
- Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments for:
- hospital inpatient and outpatient services;
- physician and other health professional services and ambulatory surgical center services;
- skilled nursing facility services;
- inpatient rehabilitation facility services;
- home health services;
- outpatient dialysis services;
- hospice services; and
- long-term care hospital services.