POLICY BRIEFINGS


Cost of SGR Fix Increases


The cost of last year’s bipartisan, bicameral proposal to repeal and replace Medicare’s SGR formula has increased by $30.5 billion with the addition of another year in the budget window, according to estimates from the CBO. This increase over last year’s projections will make it even more difficult to pass a permanent SGR fix before physician reimbursement cuts go into place April 1. Though agreement was reached last year in the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act, compromising on how to pay for permanently replacing the SGR formula proved too big an obstacle to repeal in the 113th Congress. The current temporary SGR patch expires on March 31, at which point a 21 percent payment cut to Medicare doctors would go into place.


HELP Chairman Discusses Timeline for Health Innovation Initiative


Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee officially announced the launch of a bipartisan initiative to examine the process for getting safe and innovative treatments and cures to patients. The Initiative will look at the role that the FDA and the NIH play in development and discovery of new drugs and medical devices. A bipartisan staff working group for the Initiative will convene next week. A series of hearings to look at how to better align public policies to support innovation while maintaining high patient safety standards will be held in March. The HELP Initiative parallels the 21st Century Cures Initiative under way at the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Sen. Alexander has stated that he hopes the Senate Initiative will complete its work by the end of the year.


Upcoming Congressional Meetings and Hearings


Senate HELP Committee: hearing titled “The Reemergence of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Exploring the Public Health Successes and Challenges;” 10:00 a.m., 106 Dirksen Bldg.; Feb. 10

Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee: hearing titled “Federal Efforts on Mental Health: Why Greater HHS [Health and Human Services] Leadership is Needed;” 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; Feb. 11

Health Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee: hearing titled “Examining ICD-10 Implementation;” 10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.; Feb. 11

House Energy and Commerce Committee: markup to consider health legislation, opening statements only; 5:00 p.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; Feb. 11

House Energy and Commerce Committee: markup to consider health legislation; 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; Feb. 12



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