Lawmakers Approach Deal on Medicare Extenders

The Senate Finance Committee is working to finalize a draft bipartisan bill that would renew funding for a series of Medicare extenders before their expiration at the end of this calendar year. The legislation would address provisions to assist low-volume or rural health care providers, reauthorize federally backed outreach to low-income beneficiaries, and eliminate an annual limit on beneficiary spending for certain physical therapy services. The House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Ways and Means Committee reached a similar bipartisan agreement last week on permanent repeal of the per-patient therapy Medicare expenditures known as therapy caps. The Finance Committee draft does not detail how the cost of the bill would be offset.

Meehan to Introduce Stark Law Reform

Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) is drafting legislation to modernize the anti-kickback statute known as the Stark Law. Meehan’s pair of bills will increase the number of safe harbors for health care organizations to more easily engage in value-based payment models and cybersecurity. While Rep. Meehan has no timeline for introducing the legislation, he already has the backing of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Duncan to Join Energy and Commerce Committee

The House Steering Committee has selected Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) to serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and fill the vacancy following the resignation of Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.). Congressman Duncan is a strong proponent of American energy independence. He is a member of the Republican Study Committee and the House Freedom Caucus. He was first elected to Congress in 2011, and previously served as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.

Flake to Retire in 2019

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced that he would not be running for reelection next year. Flake has been an outspoken critic of President Trump and the current state of the Republican Party. He serves on the Committee on the Judiciary and the Special Committee on Aging.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Meetings

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing “Implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act: Achieving the Promise of Health Information Technology;” 2:30 p.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; October 31

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee; markup of pending legislation; 10:00 a.m.; 334 Cannon Bldg.; November 2

House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing “Concerns over Federal Select Agent Program Oversight of Dangerous Pathogens;” 10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.; November 2

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

H.R.4090 (introduced by Rep. Evan H. Jenkins): To amend the Controlled Substance Act to establish a task force to address fentanyl and heroin trafficking; Judiciary, Energy and Commerce

H.R.4094 (introduced by Rep. Brian Higgins): To establish a public health plan; Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means

H.R.4095 (introduced by Rep. Stephen F. Lynch): To repeal Public Law 114-145; Energy and Commerce, Judiciary

H.R.4097 (introduced by Rep. Richard E. Neal): To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage of methadone under Medicare part B; Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means

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