POLICY BRIEFINGS


Legislation Would Create Cybersecurity Office within HHS


Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) have introduced legislation aimed at improving cybersecurity within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The HHS Data Protection Act (H.R. 5086) would mandate that the president appoint a chief information security officer by October 1 of this year. It would also call for the Secretary to submit a report to Congress one year after the legislation’s enactment on the new officer’s plan to oversee and coordinate information security. The legislation comes in response to a report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee that found “pervasive and persistent deficiencies” across the agency’s information security programs.


Energy and Commerce Advances Opioid Legislation to the Floor


Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced 12 pieces of legislation related to the prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemic:

  • H.R. 4641, to provide for the establishment of an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and for other purposes
  • H.R. 4978, the Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act
  • H.R. 1818, the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2015
  • H.R. 4981, the Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act
  • H.R. 4969, the John Thomas Decker Act
  • H.R. 4599, the Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016
  • H.R. 4976, the Opioid Review Modernization Act
  • H.R. 4982, Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act of 2016
  • H.R. 3250, the DXM Abuse Prevention Act of 2015
  • H.R. 3680, the Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act of 2015
  • H.R. 3691, the Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act of 2015
  • H.R. 4586, Lali’s Law
While the bills were largely approved with bipartisan support, debate did arise over Democratic attempts to attach $1 billion in emergency funding to combat the opioid crisis. There was also disagreement about the expansion of the cap for physicians to prescribe buprenorphine from 100 patients to 250 patients. Several Democrats on the Committee spoke in favor of abandoning the caps altogether, and introduced amendments to increase the limit to 300 patients and 500 patients. These partisan amendments were each voted down by roll call vote. There was also debate regarding the so-called “cut go” rules that require new or increased spending be offset by a reduction in current spending. The Committee amended H.R. 4586, H.R. 3680, and H.R. 3691 to be cut-go compliant, reducing the funding contained in each bill. Completion of the markup sets up a floor vote for the week of May 9, after the House returns from recess.


Senators Request Feedback on MU Legislation


Sens. John Thune (R-S.D)., Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Pat Roberts (R-Kans.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) have written to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting feedback on recently introduced legislation to address implementation of the meaningful use program. The legislation would shorten the reporting period for eligible physicians and hospitals from 365 days to 90 days, relax the all-or-nothing nature of the current program, and extend flexibility in applying for a hardship exemption from meaningful use requirements.



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