Democrats Consider Health Care Positions at Policy Retreat

After adjourning for a two-week recess last week, House Democrats embarked on their annual three-day policy retreat. The theme of the retreat was “100 Days In: Fighting for the People.” Lawmakers focused on what has been accomplished during the first three months of Democratic control of the House. The retreat was originally intended to occur in mid-February but was rescheduled due to the government shutdown. The retreat reportedly included a session on the party’s health care priorities. Mark Miller, Vice President of Health Care at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation; Bernard Tyson, CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Hospitals; Rebekah Gee, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health; and Andy Slavitt, former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator were expected to speak at the retreat about lowering health care costs, improving care for people with chronic conditions, and delivery system reforms. The rising cost of prescription drugs was likely a subject of discussion as well. Bills recently advanced by the Energy and Commerce Committee related to drug pricing and strengthening the ACA are expected to be brought to the House floor for a vote in early May after lawmakers return from recess.

New CBO Report on Medical Liability Reform

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a new working paper updating the agency’s approach to estimating the effects of changes to medical malpractice liability laws on federal spending. According to CBO, recent literature indicates that revisions to liability laws intended to decrease the liability of physicians and other medical providers have an uncertain effect on Medicare spending, and decrease by a small amount the spending of privately insured and Medicaid patients. CBO also offers a preliminary estimate of the budgetary effects of the changes, predicting that the enactment of federal legislation that caps noneconomic damages at $250,00 and caps attorneys’ fees would reduce direct federal spending by about $20 billion and would have a net effect of reducing the deficit by about $28 billion over 10 years.

OASH Announces Reorganization

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) has announced a reorganization of its structure. The changes are meant to strengthen OASH’s public health portfolio, improve the integrity and quality of OASH program, and increase operational efficiencies. The Office of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition (PCSFN) will be moved within the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). In an effort to prepare for the administration’s initiative to end HIV, the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) and the National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO) will be moved into a newly renamed office, the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/ AIDS Policy (OIDP). The Office of Adolescent Health will be moved within the Office of Population Affairs (OPA), and all Title X family planning project staff in the 10 HHS regional offices will be realigned to report directly to OPA Headquarters. The OASH reorganization plan will go into effect June 10.

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

H.R.2113 — To amend titles XI and XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for drug manufacturer price transparency, to require certain manufacturers to report on product samples provided to certain health care providers, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Neal, Richard E. [D-MA-1]; Committees: House - Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce

H.R.2115 — To amend title XI of the Social Security Act to provide greater transparency of discounts provided by drug manufacturers; Sponsor: Rep. Spanberger, Abigail Davis [D-VA-7]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means

H.R.2117 — To improve the health and safety of Americans living with food allergies and related disorders, including potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome, and eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Matsui, Doris O. [D-CA-6]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.2131 — To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to eliminate a provision under the Medicare Advantage program that inadvertently penalizes Medicare Advantage plans for providing high quality care to Medicare beneficiaries; Sponsor: Rep. Kind, Ron [D-WI-3]; Committees: House - Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce

H.R.2143 — To prevent wasteful and abusive billing of ancillary services to the Medicare program, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Speier, Jackie [D-CA-14]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means

H.R.2150 — To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to ensure more timely access to home health services for Medicare beneficiaries under the Medicare program; Sponsor: Rep. Schakowsky, Janice D. [D-IL-9]; Committees: House - Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce

H.R.2155 — To provide for certain requirements with respect to the treatment of personally identifiable information by genetic testing services; Sponsor: Rep. Rush, Bobby L. [D-IL-1]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.2163 — To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow for tax-advantaged distributions from health savings accounts during family or medical leave, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Biggs, Andy [R-AZ-5]; Committees: House - Ways and Means

H.R.2166 — To authorize a comprehensive, strategic approach for United States foreign assistance to developing countries to strengthen global health security, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Connolly, Gerald E. [D-VA-11]; Committees: House - Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Intelligence (Permanent Select)

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