Energy and Commerce Release Report on Flaws of HHS Information Security

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) have released a report titled “Information Security and the Department of Health and Human Services,” detailing the problems within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) information security practices. The report finds that these flaws have left the Department vulnerable to cyber attacks. The authors blame the current state of information security at HHS as a result of too much emphasis placed on operations rather than security. The report concludes that “the separation of management of information technology from the management of information security concerns would remove information security from the information technology ‘silo’ and would facilitate the inclusion of expertise across HHS in information security decisions,” and goes on to provide a number of additional recommendations for moving forward.

Bipartisan Bill on Prescription Drug Abuse Introduced in the Senate

Before adjourning for August recess, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced S. 1913, the Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act. The legislation is aimed at reducing prescription drug abuse and improving care for those at risk of abuse. S. 1913 would identify patients with histories of abuse in Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage, and then lock them in to one prescriber and one pharmacy in order to reduce doctor and pharmacy shopping. The bill would also encourage insurers, Part D plan sponsors, and prescribers to better assist patients seeking substance abuse treatment. The sponsors estimate that S. 1913 would save between $79 million and $115 million in Medicare program prescription payments over the next decade.

President Signs Observation Status Bill into Law

Last week, President Obama signed into law the Notice of Observation and Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility (NOTICE) Act (H.R. 836). The law will require hospitals to give each individual who receives observation services as an outpatient for more than 24 hours an adequate oral and written notification within 36 hours which explains the reasons for the individual’s status and the implications of the status. The law is aimed at improving patients’ understanding of their subsequent coverage eligibility for services furnished by a skilled nursing facility.

Health Legislation Recently Introduced

H.R. 3441(PRENATAL SCREENING), to amend the Public Health Service Act to establish education programs for patients and health care providers regarding cell-free DNA prenatal screening, and for other purposes; HERRERA BEUTLER; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce; August 4

S. 1915
(EMERGENCY RESPONSE), to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to make anthrax vaccines and antimicrobials available to emergency response providers, and for other purposes; AYOTTE; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; August 3

S. 1916 (SKILLED NURSING), to include skilled nursing facilities as a type of health care provider under section 254(h) of the Communications Act of 1934; THUNE; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; August 3

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