With the March 31 expiration of the current physician fee fix (“doc fix”) quickly approaching, the House and Senate Leadership are working to craft another patch while they continue to work through policy and payment issues related to the SGR reform package. Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 2110, the Medicare SGR Repeal and Beneficiary Access Improvement Act of 2014, which is similar to the bicameral SGR reform bill previously released. The proposal includes health care extenders and received a score last week from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of $180 billion over ten years. Chairman Wyden would like to move to Senate floor consideration, but the bill does not include offsets making the path to sixty votes a significant challenge. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) are currently working on a nine month (up to one year) physician fee fix bill to allow for further negotiations on how to move forward on SGR reform.
The House is also expected to schedule a vote on H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act of 2013, in the coming weeks. The bill would change the definition of a full-time employee from thirty to forty hours for purposes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate for employers to provide health care coverage for employees.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, March 25: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations will hold a hearing titled “The First One Thousand Days: Development Aid Programs to Bolster Health and Nutrition.”
- Wednesday, March 26: The House Committee Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on the Future of Biomedical Research with Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing titled “Where Have All the Patients Gone? Examining the Psychiatric Bed Shortage.” The Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing titled “Preventing Medicare Fraud: How Can We Best Protect Seniors and Taxpayers?”
- Thursday March 27: The House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a budget hearing on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
FDA Device Classification Procedures Proposed Rule
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the Medical Device Classification Procedures proposed rule. FDA is proposing to “amend its regulations governing classification and reclassification of medical devices to conform to the applicable provisions in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA). FDA is also proposing changes unrelated to the new FDASIA requirements to update its regulations governing classification and reclassification of medical devices. FDA is taking this action to codify the procedures and criteria that apply to classification and reclassification of medical devices and to provide for classification of devices in the lowest regulatory class consistent with the public health and the statutory scheme for device regulation.”