Medicaid Fraud Prevention Measures Proposed

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has released a proposed rule dealing with state Medicaid fraud prevention efforts. The proposed rule would give Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs) the ability to conduct investigations into allegations of patient abuse and neglect, or misappropriation of funding. The issue of fraud in the Medicaid program has been the subject of a congressional hearing, following reports that in 2015 Medicaid had a 9.8 percent rate of mistakenly paying providers. The agency will accept comments on the proposed rule through November 21.

McCarthy Expresses Support for Biannual Budgeting Bill

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has expressed support for bringing a biannual budgeting bill to the floor this month. H.R. 1610, sponsored by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), would establish a two-year budget process. McCarthy said he would support bringing the bill to the House floor before the chamber adjourns at the end of the month for the election recess. While a hearing on the legislation has been held in the Budget Committee, the bill has not yet been marked up. It currently has more than 230 bipartisan cosponsors, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), however, have not yet signed on to the bill, but the concept of a two-year spending process has the support of budget leadership in the Senate. The proposal stemmed from an attempt by lawmakers to address the unpredictability of the annual appropriations process.

21st Century Cures Pushed to Lame Duck

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) will wait until the lame duck session to introduce a new version of his 21st Cures legislation. H.R. 6 passed the House last year with broad bipartisan support, but further progress on the bill has been stalled in the Senate over negotiations about how to offset new spending for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Upton had hoped to pass the new version, which contains different spending offsets, before the election, but it appears that a deal was not able to be reached in time to move the bill before the November election recess. Upton did hint that an announcement with more details about the new 21st Century Cures bill should be expected before Congress leaves town.

Industry Announces Effort to Curb Antibiotic Resistance

Thirteen pharmaceutical manufacturers announced plans to reduce pollution from antibiotics factories and decrease the overuse of antibiotics in an effort to curb the rise of antimicrobial resistance. Both generic and brand drug makers will develop new factory standards and supply chains to ensure that antibiotic waste does not enter waterways. They will also review their promotional activities and implement measures to remove incentives to sell antibiotics in large volumes. The announcement coincided with a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly focusing on drug resistance.

Energy and Commerce Advances Health Legislation

The House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up six public health bills last week, which were advanced unanimously by voice vote. H.R. 4365, the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act, would enable paramedics and emergency medical services (EMS) providers to continue to administer controlled substances to patients according to standing orders issued by their medical director. H.R. 1192, the National Clinical Care Commission Act, would establish a commission to evaluate and make recommendations on caring for people with metabolic syndromes and autoimmune disorders. H.R. 1209, the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act, would increase data collection to better place maternal health professional in geographic regions with workforce shortages through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). H.R. 1877, the Mental Health First Aid Act, would award grants to initiate and sustain mental health awareness training. H.R. 2713, the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2015, reauthorizes grants and scholarships for nursing education. Finally, H.R. 3537, the Synthetic Drug Control Act, would place several synthetic drug compounds on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Both H.R. 1877 (the Mental Health First Aid Act) and H.R. 3537 (the Synthetic Drug Control Act) are scheduled to be considered this week by the full House under suspension of the rules.

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