POLICY BRIEFINGS


Bipartisan EHR Workgroup Formed


Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have announced the creation of a bipartisan working group to examine ways to improve electronic health records (EHRs). The leaders stated that the goals of the working group will be to identify policies to help doctors and hospitals improve quality of care and patient safety; facilitate interoperability; empower patients to engage in their own health care through convenient, user-friendly access to their personal health information; leverage health information technology capabilities to improve patient safety; and protect patient privacy and security of health information.


Lawmakers Request Medicaid Recommendations


House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) have sent a letter to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) asking for ideas on how to strengthen the Medicaid program. “We are writing to request that the commission undertake serious and sustained analytical work over the coming years to advice Congress about potential policies and needed financing reforms and incentives to ensure the sustainability of the program,” the policymakers write. “We request that any recommendations provided by the commission that would increase Medicaid program costs be accompanied by suggestions for other Medicaid program changes to offset those added costs.” The Medicaid program covers more than 70 million Americans, and will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.


Breakthrough Medical Device Bill Introduced


Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced S. 1077, the Advancing Breakthrough Devices for Patients Act. The bill would require FDA, at the request of a device sponsor, to expedite the development of and provide for priority review of devices that represent breakthrough technologies, for which no approved alternatives exist, offer significant advantages over existing approved or cleared alternatives, or the availability of which is in the best interest of patients. The bill also requires FDA to issue final guidance on authorities relating to breakthrough devices.


Eshoo Reintroduces American Cures Act


Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has reintroduced the American Cures Act (H.R. 2104) aimed at addressing the decline in federal investment in biomedical research. The legislation would bolster funding for every federal agency responsible for conducting this research, including the NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Defense Health Program (DHP), and the Veterans Medical and Prosthetic Research Program. The American Cures Act would increase funding each year at a rate of GDP-indexed inflation, plus five percent.



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