POLICY BRIEFINGS


Senate Confirms CMS Administrator


The Senate has confirmed Seema Verma as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) by a vote of 55-43. Three Democrats voted for the CMS nominee: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.). Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) also voted to approve Verma. Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) missed the vote. No Republicans voted against the nomination. In a March 14th letter to governors penned by Verma and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price, the administrators pledge to provide states with more flexibility to design their Medicaid programs and to more quickly and transparently handle
requests for Medicaid waivers. The letter outlines a conservative vision for the Medicaid program, with an increased focus on work requirements and cost sharing.


Wyden Introduces PBM Drug Pricing Legislation


Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has introduced legislation aimed at reducing drug costs by targeting prescription drug benefit managers (PBMs). The Creating Transparency to Have Drug Rebates Unlocked (C-THRU) Act (S. 637) would mandate that patient co-pays or co-insurance for Medicare Part D drugs are based on the negotiated price, rather than the higher list price, of the drug. The legislation would also mandate that PBMs disclose the aggregate rebates negotiated, the amount of those rebates passed on to health plans, and the difference between what a PBM pays a pharmacy for a product and what the PBM charges a health plan for the same product. After two years, a minimum percentage of the rebate would need to be passed on to health plans, and shared with patients.


Upcoming Congressional Hearings/Meetings


House Rules Committee will meet on the following measures: H.R. 372 — Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017 and H.R. 1101 — Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2017; 5:00 p.m., H-313 Capitol Bldg.; March 20

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on “FDA User Fee Agreements: Improving Medical Product Regulation and Innovation for Patients Part I;” 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; March 21

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on “Fentanyl: The Next Wave of the Opioid Crisis;” 10:15 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; March 21

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing on “Examining FDA’s Prescription Drug User Fee Program;” 10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.; March 22

House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee hearing on “Healthy Hiring: Enabling VA to Recruit and Retain Quality Providers;” 2:00 p.m., 334 Cannon Bldg.; March 22



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