Committee Changes for the Second Session of the 115th Congress

Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) has announced the new chairmanships and subcommittee assignments for the House Ways and Means Committee for the remainder of the 115th Congress. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) will replace Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) as Health Subcommittee chairman. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) will replace Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) as chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee, and Buchanan will replace Roskam as chairman of the Tax Policy Subcommittee. Additionally, the House Steering Committee has recommended Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) to join the Ways and Means Committee as a new member. The appointment will be confirmed by the full House Republican Conference in the coming days. Chairman Brady released a statement welcoming Rep. LaHood to the committee. A fully updated list of Ways and Means Committee membership can be found in Hart Health Strategies’ Guide to the 115th Congress.

On the Senate side, due to recent retirements, Sens. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) have joined the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Sen. Smith will take her predecessor Al Franken’s seat on the Committee. In related news, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) has joined the Senate Finance Committee which opened the HELP Committee spot for Sen. Jones.

E&C Releases Report on 340B

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has released a report detailing the flaws of the 340B Medicare drug discount program. “Review of the 340B Drug Pricing Program” finds that 340B has grown beyond the original intent of the law - to help indigent patients with drug costs. According to the analysis, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) lacks the regulatory authority to oversee the program and has yet to issue and enforce the regulatory requirements that are within its authority. The report also indicates that the 340B audit process is in need of improvement and points to the lack of data on how program savings are used. The report makes recommendations for how 340B can be improved, and Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has stated that a legislative fix is forthcoming. Among the report’s twelve recommendations, the Committee proposes ensuring that covered entities and stakeholders have access to ceiling prices, requiring covered entities to disclose information about their annual 340B program savings or revenue, and establishing a mechanism to monitor the level of charity care provided by covered entities.

In related news, three hospital groups have formally notified the court of their intent to appeal the December 29 decision to dismiss a lawsuit over cuts to the 340B program. The American Hospital Association (AHA), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and America’s Essential Hospitals had initially sued the Administration over a final rule that will result in $1.6 billion in cuts to hospitals participating in 340B. The lower reimbursement rate took effect on January 1, but the case was previously dismissed because it was filed before the rule took effect.

WH Resubmits Nominations for HHS Posts

President Trump has officially resubmitted his nomination of Alex Azar for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The nomination expired at the end of 2017, and had to be re-submitted as lawmakers enter the second session of the 115th Congress. Brett Giroir for Assistant Secretary for Health and Stephen Parente for Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation have also been re-nominated. The next step for Alex Azar, given the nomination hearing last week in the Senate Finance Committee, is a vote in the committee on the nomination.

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