This week in Washington: President Joe Biden begins his term and Congress begins work to confirm cabinet secretaries.

Wyden and Pallone Send Letter to CMS, Concerned over Section 1115 Demonstrations

On Jan. 19, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to outgoing Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma requesting that CMS rescind a batch of letters it sent to states earlier this month. The letters claim that CMS made it difficult for the incoming Biden administration to reverse harmful Medicaid changes.

CMS asked states to quickly sign onto a new agreement outlined in the letters, establishing a nine-month process for CMS to withdraw federal approval of experimental changes to Medicaid programs known as section 1115 demonstrations. Under the Trump administration, CMS has approved a number of controversial section 1115 demonstrations, including a recently unveiled block grant funding for Tennessee and several work requirement programs that have been repeatedly struck down in the courts.

Find the full letter here.

PBMs Sue Trump Administration over Drug Rebate Rule

On Jan. 12, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association sued the Trump administration over Medicare drug rebates that pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs) use to negotiate lower prices for insurers. The lawsuit challenges the merits of the regulation and argues that the Trump administration circumvented public rulemaking. The rebate rule, which is set to take effect next year, would replace the safe harbor for rebates with a safe harbor for up-front discounts that are given to patients at the pharmacy.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.