Administration Launches Preventive Health Campaign

Last week, the White House launched “Healthy Self,” an initiative aimed at helping patients better understand their health care coverage and using preventive services provided without cost under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Through largely digital outreach, the health literacy initiative will encourage the use of preventive care such as blood pressure screenings, vaccinations, contraception, and obesity counseling. The campaign will also encourage healthy lifestyle decision-making, such as exercise, diet, and smoking cessation. The campaign will focus on young people and those who the Administration feels do not understand their benefits. Outreach to women will also be prioritized, as it is understood that they often make the health care decisions for their entire family. Healthy Self with partner with private companies throughout the campaign to help increase the use of preventive services. Fifty Healthy Self campaign events are planned between June 15 and the end of August of this year.

HELP to Hold Series of Hearings on HIT

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have announced a series of bipartisan hearings on ways to improve electronic health records for patients and providers this summer. The announcement came during a hearing titled “Health Information Exchange: A Path Towards Improving the Quality and Value of Health Care for Patients.” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a physician, will chair a hearing on opportunities to improve the provider experience with health IT, with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) as ranking member on June 16th. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will chair a future hearing on how to make sure patients can better access their own health information. Better enabling the adoption of EHRs and improving the Meaningful Use Program are two of the priorities of the HELP Committee’s Innovation Initiative. An Innovation bill is expected later this year, and Sen. Alexander hopes to consider the legislation in committee after the reauthorization of a higher education law in September.

Bipartisan Cancer Drug Coverage Bill Introduced

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) have introduced legislation that would require health plans that cover traditional chemotherapy to equally cover cancer medications in pill form. Patients who currently use these oral chemotherapy pills, which are becoming increasingly common, are subject to large out of pocket costs. This is because orally administered anti-cancer medications are usually covered under a prescription drug plan that places a higher percentage of cost sharing on the patient. H.R. 2739 and S.1566, the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, aim to fix this disparity in coverage.

Advance Care Planning Legislation Reintroduced

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) have reintroduced the Care Planning Act for the 114th Congress. The legislation would establish Medicare reimbursement for health care professionals to provide a voluntary and structured discussion about the goals and treatment options for individuals with serious illness. The legislation would test new models for more intensive services for those with advanced illness, and provide funding to support the development of a public information campaign to encourage effective care planning. S. 1549 directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop quality metrics that will measure synchronicity among the individual’s stated goals, values, and preferences with documented care plans, the treatment that is delivered, and the outcome of treatment. The legislation was previously introduced during the 113th Congress, but with no other cosponsors. This year, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) signed on as original cosponsors of the bill.

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