This Week in Washington: House passes Lower Costs, More Transparency Act and SUPPORT Act Reauthorization; Senate HELP Committee reports SUPPORT Act Reauthorization and three other bills out of committee; ONC releases final rule concerning clinical use of AI.

Congress

House

House Passes Lower Costs, More Transparency Act and SUPPORT Act Reauthorization

Last week, the House passed the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act, a legislative package that includes provisions seeking to increase hospital and other provider price transparency, implement site-neutral payments for off-campus hospital outpatient departments, ban pharmacy benefit manager spread pricing and extend funding for health programs.

The House also passed the Support for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act. The legislation reauthorizes opioid-use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery programs; permanently extends Medicaid coverage for medication-assisted treatments; improves overdose response training programs; and places xylazine in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act.

In addition, the House passed the Dr. Emmanuel Bilirakis and Honorable Jennifer Wexton National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act. The legislation would require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a national plan to prevent and cure Parkinson’s disease.

Forty-Eight Members Send Letter Concerning Manufacturer Copay Accumulators

On Dec. 12, Rep. Carter (R-GA) led 48 members in sending a letter to the Secretaries of HHS, Labor and Treasury—Xavier Becerra, Julie Su and Janet Yellen—concerning copay accumulators and the recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that vacated the 2021 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) Final Rule that permitted the use of copay accumulator adjustment programs.

The members believe HHS should notify beneficiaries and reaffirm the 2020 NBPP Final Rule that states group health plans and health insurers must count copay assistance toward a patient’s maximum annual limitation on cost-sharing (MOOP) for drugs that do not have a medically appropriate generic equivalent available.

For more information, click here.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairmen Threaten to Subpoena FDA Over Foreign Drug Inspection Program

On Dec. 14, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and two subcommittee chairmen, Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), sent a follow-up letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf, warning that the committee could subpoena the FDA if it does not submit documents and information concerning the FDA foreign drug inspection program.

The chairmen are concerned about the effectiveness of the program after reports indicated a reduction in the total number of FDA foreign inspections and an increase in drug manufacturing facility citations in 2022.

For more information, click here.

Senate

Senate HELP Committee Marks Up SUPPORT Act Reauthorization and Three Other Bills

On Dec. 12, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee marked up and reported out of committee four bills. Among them was the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act, which would reauthorize programs that provide substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services, and increase funding for mental and behavioral health training and the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative.

In addition, the committee reported out of committee the Screening for Communities to Receive Early and Equitable Needed Services for Cancer Act of 2023, which would reauthorize the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, the Advancing Research in Education Act, which would reauthorize the Education Science Reform Act and the Modernizing Opioid Treatment Access Act, which would allow certain providers to prescribe methadone for opioid use disorder.

For more information, click here.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sends Letter Concerning Pharmacy Prescription Record Sharing Practices

On Dec. 12, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Reps. Jayapal (D-WA) and Jacobs (D-CA) sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, expressing their concern over the practice by some pharmacies to provide patient prescription records to law enforcement agencies without requesting a warrant.

The chairman and members have been investigating pharmacy prescription record-sharing practices and discovered through inquiries with pharmacy companies that several do not require a warrant prior to sharing records with law enforcement agencies. The chairman and members are urging HHS to address pharmacy privacy practices and revise Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations to require a warrant for law enforcement to access prescription records.

For more information, click here.

MACPAC Releases 2023 Medicaid and CHIP Data Book

On Dec. 15, the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) released the 2023 MACStats: Medicaid and CHIP Data Book. The data book contains the latest data and information on the Medicaid and CHIP programs and is divided into the following six sections:

  • Key statistics on Medicaid and CHIP;
  • Trends in Medicaid spending, enrollment and share of state budgets;
  • Medicaid and CHIP enrollment and spending;
  • Medicaid and CHIP eligibility;
  • Measures of beneficiary health, use of services and access to care; and
  • A technical guide regarding data sources and methods.

 For more information, click here.

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