NIH Announces Precision Medicine Team

The group of experts that will develop the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative were announced by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last week. The Precision Medicine Initiative includes plans to gather a cohort of 1 million people to share information about their health and lifestyle in order to further the development of individualized treatments and preventive measures. The external working group on building a research cohort for precision medicine will be co-chaired by Dr. Richard Lifton, Chair of the Department of Genetics at Yale University School of Medicine, Bray Patrick-Lake, Director of Stakeholder Engagement for the Clinical Trial Transformation Initiative at Duke University, and Dr. Kathy Hudson, Deputy Director of Science, Outreach, and Policy at the NIH. The working group will be accepting public comments and is scheduled to deliver a preliminary report on their findings in September. The full membership of the working group can be found here.

Supreme Court Declines to Review IPAB Challenge

The Supreme Court has declined to weigh in on a challenge to constitutionality of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). IPAB was authorized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and is charged with cutting costs in the Medicare program should spending exceed a target growth rate. The Court denied the Goldwater Institute’s petition for a review of an appeals court dismissal of a challenge to the constitutionality of IPAB. Twenty-four House Republicans filed a brief in December asking the justices to take up the case. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), one of the authors of the brief, has pledged to continue his leadership in seeking repeal of IPAB through the legislative process. Earlier this year, he and Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 1190 , which would repeal IPAB. The bill currently has 210 bipartisan cosponsors.

House Freshman Urge Speaker Boehner to Repeal Medical Device Tax

In a letter sent to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) last week, freshman members of the House of Representatives urged fast-track consideration of H.R. 160, the Protect Medical Innovation Act, which would repeal the excise tax on medical device manufacturers and importers. The ACA put in place a 2.3 percent tax on medical device industry revenue. “As freshmen members, we made a promise to our constituents to usher in a new era of cooperation in order to restore faith in our government institutions,” the letter says. “Repealing the tax will not have a meaningful impact on the budget, but will be significant for these small businesses and their ability to continue to grow.” H.R. 160 was introduced by Rep. Eric Paulsen (R-Minn.) and currently has 277 bipartisan cosponsors. The Senate companion bill, S.149, was introduced by Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and currently has 34 bipartisan cosponsors.

Supreme Court Ruling in Idaho Medicaid Reimbursement Case

The Supreme Court has determined that health care providers do not have a right to sue a state to raise their Medicaid reimbursement rates. The case began in Idaho, when a group of private health care providers filed a lawsuit against the state for freezing Medicaid reimbursement rates at 2006 levels. Providers argued that federal law preempts state law and allows them to sue for higher rates in order for Medicaid beneficiaries to received equal access to care as mandated by the federal government. Justices considered the question of whether private companies had legal recourse to enforce federal laws, and ultimately decided that it is up to federal agencies to define whether states are in compliance with federal Medicaid statutes. Chief Justice John G. Roberts was joined by Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel Anthony Alito Jr., Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia in the 5-4 ruling. Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan dissented.

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