Senators Urge Delay of 340B Cuts

A bipartisan group of six senators have written to Senate leadership requesting their support in blocking the implementation of a regulation that would reduce Medicare reimbursement for 340B hospitals. Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a rule that would change reimbursement for separately payable drugs under the 340B drug discount program from average sales price (ASP) plus six percent to 22.5 percent less than ASP, effective January 1, 2018. The lawmakers request that legislation be attached to a year-end bill to block or delay the change. The letter was signed by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

Ryan Calls for Entitlement Reform in 2018

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has stated that he intends to focus on entitlement reform in 2018. He identified Medicare as the largest entitlement program that requires an overhaul because of its significant impact on the nation’s deficit and debt. Ryan also expressed support for a revamping of social programs in order to get beneficiaries from “welfare to work.” The Speaker stated that he is in talks with the President about the importance of choice and competition in health care. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) has also stated that welfare reform is the next item on his agenda, once work on the GOP tax bill is complete.

Energy and Commerce Announces Subcommittee Changes

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced several changes to subcommittee leadership and assignments last week. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) will chair the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) will begin serving as vice chair of the Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, while Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) will join the subcommittee. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) will join the Subcommittee on Health.

Franken to Resign in Coming Weeks

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced that he will resign from Congress in the coming weeks following several allegations of sexual misconduct. He did not specify when he will step down. Under state law, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) will appoint a candidate to serve until the 2018 elections. Whoever wins the election will serve the remainder of Franken’s term, which runs through 2020. Franken currently holds seats on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Judiciary Committee.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Meetings

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing “The Cost of Prescription Drugs: An Examination of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative;” 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; December 12

Senate Judiciary Committee hearing “Oversight of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act;” 10:00 a.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.; December 12

House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management hearing “The Opioid Epidemic in Appalachia: Addressing Hurdles to Economic Development in the Region;” 10:00 a.m., 2167 Rayburn Bldg.; December 12

House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing “Examining Concerns of Patient Brokering and Addiction Treatment Fraud;” 10:15 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.; December 12

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing “Implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act: Responding to Mental Health Needs;” 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; December 13

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing “Examining the Drug Supply Chain;” 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; December 13

House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology hearing “Head Health Challenge: Preventing Head Trauma from the Football Field to Shop Floor to Battlefield;” 10:00 a.m., 2318 Rayburn Bldg.; December 13

Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel hearing “Update on Research, Diagnosis, and Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussion in Service Members;” 10:00 a.m., 222 Russell Bldg.; December 13

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