Pelosi Hopeful on Cures Passage

During a press conference last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) predicted that the latest version of the 21st Century Cures Act would pass before the end of the year. A revised 21st Century Cures bill is expected to be released during the lame-duck session of Congress, and Pelosi said she plans to help build consensus around the legislation – while noting that support for the revised bill is not universal among Democrats. This is likely due to the changes in offsets compared to the initial H.R. 6, which passed the House almost unanimously last summer. Democrats are also waiting to see whether the new bill will include funding for the Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

State Officials Propose Policies to Lower Drug Costs

The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) has released a report including a set of recommendations for states seeking to address rising pharmaceutical prices. The group of state health policymakers developed the following 11 recommendations intended to serve as a toolbox of options for states to consider in order to control drug spending:

  • Increase price transparency to create public visibility and accountability;
  • Create a public utility model to oversee in-state drug prices;
  • Bulk purchase and distribution of high-priced, broadly-indicated drugs that protect public health;
  • Utilize state unfair trade and consumer protection laws to address high drug prices;
  • Seek the ability to re-import drugs from Canada and on a state-by-state basis;
  • Pursue Medicaid waivers and legislative changes to promote greater purchasing flexibility;
  • Enable states to operate as pharmacy benefit managers to broaden their purchasing and negotiating powers;
  • Pursue return on investment pricing and forward financing approaches to allow flexible financing based on long-term,avoided costs;
  • Ensure state participation in Medicare Part D through Employer Group Waiver Plans; Protect consumers against misleading marketing; and
  • Use shareholder activism through state pension funds to influence pharmaceutical company actions.

NASHP will discuss their recommendations with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)next month.

Committee Releases Report on Improper Payments

Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have released a report highlighting nearly $600 billion in improper payments issued by the federal government. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had the highest level of improper payments amounting to $363 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2015. HHS is also one of nine agencies that has failed to meet requirements for reporting improper payments of the past five years. The report recommends that agencies resolve outstanding inspector general recommendations related to improper payments, identify
the root causes of their failure and work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to improve on the problem.

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