Legislative Activity

This week the Senate will take its turn to question the Administration about the bumpy healthcare.gov rollout, with two hearings on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance exchanges. Senate Democrats’ concerns about the proposed fixes to the website continue to mount, as well as questions about the Administration’s promise that those who like their insurance plans will be able to keep them. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is expected to introduce legislation to allow people to maintain current coverage, and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has indicated he will introduce a bill to delay the individual mandate and penalty for one year. The Administration has also put a multi-million dollar marketing push on hold in order to address the online glitches.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, November 5: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing titled “The Online Federal Health Insurance Marketplace: Enrollment Challenges and the Path Forward.” Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is scheduled to testify.
  • Wednesday, November 6: The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing titled “Health Insurance Exchanges: An Update from the Administration.” The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will be the sole witness.
  • Thursday, November 7: The Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights, and Agency Action has scheduled a hearing titled “Justice Denied: Rules Delayed on Auto Safety and Mental Health.”

Regulatory Activity

Treasury Modifies FSA Rules

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a clarification regarding modifications to the rules for flexible spending accounts (FSAs). The notice modifies the “use-or-lose” rule for FSAs to allow consumers to carry over as much as $500 into the next plan year. The change follows several years of advocacy to repeal the limits placed on FSA’s in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and represents a small victory for consumers and providers alike.

FDA Rule on Discontinuance of Certain Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a proposed rule for the Permanent Discontinuance or Interruption in Manufacturing of Certain Drug or Biological Products. The proposed rule would “require all applicants of covered approved drugs or biological products, including certain applicants of blood or blood components for transfusion and all manufacturers of covered drugs marketed without an approved application, to notify FDA electronically of a permanent discontinuance or an interruption in manufacturing of the product that is likely to lead to a meaningful disruption in supply (or a significant disruption in supply for blood or blood components) of the product in the United States.” Comments are due on Friday, January 3, 2014.


MedPAC Meeting

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) will hold a public meeting on Thursday and Friday November 7-8. An agenda will be released in advance of the meeting.