This Week in Washington: House Energy and Commerce subcommittees look at role of AI and CDC respiratory disease preparedness; FDA releases final rule on prescription drug advertisements.

Congress

House

House Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on CDC Respiratory Disease Preparedness

On Nov. 30, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) readiness and preparedness plans for future public health crises and the spread of influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus.

The subcommittee also evaluated efforts the CDC has taken to resolve decision-making, health department coordination and data collection and analysis challenges it experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Witnesses included:

  • The Honorable Mandy Cohen, M.D., Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For more information, click here.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health Holds Hearing on Role of AI in Healthcare

On Nov. 29, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to discuss how artificial intelligence (AI) is being implemented in medical devices, and how it could reduce administrative burden for physicians. The subcommittee also discussed the risks and benefits of using AI technology and the implications it could have on patient and consumer data privacy, cybersecurity and drug development. Witnesses included:

  • Michael Schlosser, M.D., MBA, Senior Vice President of Care Transformation and Innovation at HCA Healthcare
  • Benjamin Nguyen, Senior Product Manager at Transcarent
  • Peter Shen, Head of Digital Health in North America for Siemens Healthineers
  • Christopher Longhurst, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Chief Digital Officer and Association Dean at UC San Diego Health
  • David Newman-Toker, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Neurology and Director of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Department of Neurology Division of Neuro-Visual and Vestibular Disorders

For more information, click here.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairmen Send Letter Regarding Rise of Respiratory and Pneumonia Cases in China

On Nov. 29, 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 letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Mandy Cohen in response to the rise of respiratory disease and pneumonia cases in China. The chairmen are requesting that the CDC provide information on any communications it has had with Chinese health officials and federal agencies concerning the recent virus outbreak.

For more information, click here.

Senate

Senators Send Letter Concerning Attempts by Insurers to Evade Medical Loss Ratio Requirement

On Nov. 22, Sens. Warren (D-MA) and Braun (R-IN) sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General Christi Grimm, requesting that the HHS Office of Inspector General investigate whether health insurance companies, including Cigna, CVS, Aetna and United Health Group, are attempting to evade the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) statutory requirement by increasing the cost of generic drug prices at specialty pharmacies that they own. The MLR requires insurance companies to spend a minimum of 80 or 85 percent of consumers’ premium dollars on medical claims and quality improvements.

The senators are concerned over the findings of a report that revealed that insurers are charging significantly more for generic drugs dispensed by specialty pharmacies they own compared to generic drugs dispensed by independent pharmacies.

For more information on the letter, click here.

Senate Majority Whip Sends Letter Regarding New Medicare Coverage for Dental Care Services

On Nov. 28, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, urging CMS to notify states about changes made to Medicare coverage and billing practices for oral healthcare services in the 2024 Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment System final rule.

In addition, the majority whip is requesting that the CMS Medicaid Director send a letter to states to encourage them to expand coverage and billing practices for dental care services for Medicaid enrollees.

For more information, click here.

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Announces Hearing on Prescription Drug Costs

On Nov. 21, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced that the HELP committee will hold a hearing on Jan. 25 to discuss the cost of prescription drugs. The hearing will focus on the impacts high prescription drug prices are having on public health.

For more information, click here.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Announces Hearing on Prescription Drug Shortages

On Nov. 21, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced that the Finance committee will hold a hearing on prescription drug shortages on Dec. 5. The committee will examine supply chain challenges and impacts and will discuss potential policy solutions. Announced witnesses are:

  • Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD., Ph.D., Professor at the University of California, San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Division of Clinical Pharmacy
  • Marta E. Wosińska, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution Schaeffer Initiative on Health Policy
  • Allan Coukell, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at Civica Rx
  • Jason Westin, M.D. M.S., FACP, Director of the Clinical Research Program and Section Chief of Aggressive Lymphoma at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma

For more information, click here.

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