EpiPen Investigation Launched

The Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Investigations announced the opening of an inquiry into recent increases of the price of EpiPens. The announcement was made by Subcommittee Chairman Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). The manufacturer of the epinephrine autoinjector, Mylan, has recently taken steps to increase discounts for the device and introduce a generic version onto the market. These efforts, however, have done little to stem the outrage over the 400 percent EpiPen price hike that has taken place in recent years.

Cures Timeline Pushed to Lame-Duck

Senate passage of a medical innovation package is likely going to be pushed to the lame-duck session of Congress following the elections. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who led passage of the companion House bill known as the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6), recently acknowledged that there is not enough time to complete work in the Senate before the chamber breaks for election recess. The timeline on the bill has already been delayed multiple times as lawmakers negotiate an agreement on how to pay for new funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Upton said he remains confident that the bill would become law before the end of this Congress.

GAO Releases Report on Per Capita Medicaid Caps Policy

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has posted a report explaining considerations for implementing a per capita cap in the Medicaid program. This approach would limit the amount of federal Medicaid funding states could receive per enrollee. Should policymakers decide to pursue a per capita cap, the agency believes they should consider the issues of coverage and flexibility, allocation of funds across states and over time, accountability, and the broader effects that changes to Medicaid financing could have on the federally financed health care system as a whole. The GAO also cautions policymakers about the limitations of both enrollee and expenditure data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services (CMS), as well as other available federal data sources, to be used for the purpose of developing a per capita cap amount and allocating those funds. The report was requested by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who favor the policy as a means to limit cost-growth in the program.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Markups

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health markup of H.R. 4365, Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2016; H.R. 1192, National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act; H.R. 1209, Improving Access to Maternity Care Act; H.R. 1877, Mental Health First Aid; H.R. 2713, Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2015; 5:00 p.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; September 12

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing titled “The Affordable Care Act on Shaky Ground: Outlook at Oversight;” 10:00 a.m., HVC-210; September 14

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee hearing titled “Exploring the Use of Technology and Innovation to Create Efficiencies, Higher Quality, and Better Access for Beneficiaries in Health Care;” 10:00 a.m., 1100 Longworth Bldg.; September 14

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing titled “The Future of the VA: Examining the Commission on Care Report and VA’s Response;” 2:30 p.m., 418 Russell Bldg.; September 14

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade hearing titled “Disrupter Series: Advanced Robotics;” 10:30 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.; September 14

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing titled “The State of Health Insurance Markets;” 10:00 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.; September 15

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee field hearing titled “An Assessment of Deficiencies at the Northport VA Medical Center;” 9:00 a.m. (local time), Northport VA Medical Center, Auditorium, 79 Middleville Road, Northport, NY 11768; September 20

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 -  2018