POLICY BRIEFINGS


Lawmakers Applaud CDC Opioid Draft Guideline


A group of eight senators have written to the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in support of the agency’s recently released Draft Guideline for Opioid Prescribing. The purpose of the guideline is to reduce unnecessary prescription of the painkillers. Physicians would be encouraged to recommend non-pharmacological therapy for chronic, non-cancer pain, prescribe the lowest opioid dose and the fewest number of pills that would be effective for the patient, and regularly evaluate patient risk to the opioids they are prescribed. The signatories believe that these guidelines “reflect the latest science and represent a commonsense approach that will help us reduce opioid addiction and diversion and save lives without compromising access to needed treatment.” The letter was signed by Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.V.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), and Angus King (I-ME).


Report Released on State Health Disparities


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Public Health Institute have released a large report examining health gaps within each state. The report analyzes how wide gaps are on measures like uninsured rates, obesity rates, poverty rates, and premature death rates and what is driving those differences. The report also provides strategies to address factors that influence the differences between states and counties.


Major Entitlements Account for Nearly Half of Federal Spending


The country’s three major entitlement programs – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – account for almost half of the nation’s budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). While military spending has shrunk in recent years, spending on these entitlement programs has grown from 45 percent of total spending in fiscal year (FY) 2013 to 48 percent in FY 2015, totaling $1.77 trillion. The programs reached a record 9.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015. The expansion of the Medicaid program following passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) accounted for a 16 percent increase in Medicaid spending.


Upcoming Congressional Meetings and Hearings


House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee: hearing on veterans’ health legislation; 10:00 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.; November 17

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee: hearing on the Nomination of Dr. Robert Califf to serve as FDA Commissioner; 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; November 17

Senate Finance Committee: hearing titled “Physician Owned Distributors: Are they Harmful to Patients and Payers?”; 2:00 p.m., 215 Dirksen Bldg.; November 17

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing titled “Examining the Regulation of Diagnostic Tests and Laboratory Operations;” 2:00 p.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; November 17

House Energy and Commerce Committee: markup of legislation including H.R. 1321, the Microbead-Free Waters Act, H.R. 3014, the Medical Controlled Substances Transportation Act, H.R. 3537, Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2015, H.R. 3716, the Ensuring Terminated Providers Are Removed from Medicaid and CHIP Act, and H.R. 3821, the Medicaid Directory of Caregivers Act (opening statements only); 4:00 p.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; November 17

House Energy and Commerce Committee: markup of legislation including H.R. 1321, the Microbead-Free Waters Act, H.R. 3014, the Medical Controlled Substances Transportation Act, H.R. 3537, Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2015, H.R. 3716, the Ensuring Terminated Providers Are Removed from Medicaid and CHIP Act, and H.R. 3821, the Medicaid Directory of Caregivers Act; 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.;
November 18

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee: markup to consider legislation including H.R. 2820 Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2015 and S. 1719 Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers Act of 2015 S. 1719 Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers Act of 2015; 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; November 18

House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing titled “Choice Consolidation: Assessing VA’s Plan to Improve Care in the Community;” 10:30 a.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.; November 18

House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee: hearing titled “U.S. Public Health Preparedness for Seasonal Influenza: Has the Response Improved?” 10:00 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.; November 19

Senate Special Aging Committee hearing on prescription drug prices; time and place TBA; December 9



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