Legislative Activity

Ways and Means Tax Proposal

The House Committee on Ways and Means released a comprehensive tax reform proposal, which includes a number of health related provisions. Notable elements include:

  • Repeal of credit for health insurance costs of eligible individuals;
  • Repeal of deduction for medical expenses;
  • Repeal of disqualification of expenses for over the counter drugs under certain accounts and arrangements (health savings and flexible spending accounts);
  • Repeal of credit for clinical testing expenses for certain drugs for rare diseases or conditions;
  • Repeal of credit for employee health insurance expenses of small employers;
  • Repeal of medical device excise tax; and
  • Clarification of orphan drug exception to annual fee on branded prescription pharmaceutical manufacturers and importers.

CBO Scores SGR Bill

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released the updated score of H.R. 4015, the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014, which is the compromise proposal agreed to by the Senate Finance Committee and the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means. According to CBO, the package would increase direct spending by $138.4 billion over ten years, which falls in the middle of previously reported proposals that ranged from $121 billion to $153 billion. While lawmakers have identified potential offsets, paying for the bill remains a challenge to negotiators, as is the inclusion of an extenders package. The current physician fee fix expires at the end of March.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Monday, March 3: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Examining Concerns Regarding FDAs Proposed Changes to Generic Drug Labeling.”
  • Tuesday, March 4: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Keeping the Promise: How Better Managing Medicare Can Protect Seniors.”
  • Wednesday, March 5: The House Committee on the Budget has scheduled a hearing on the President’s FY 2015 Budget. The Honorable Sylvia M. Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget will be the sole witness. The Senate Committee on Finance will also hold a hearing on the FY 2015 Budget with the Honorable Jacob Lew, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
  • Thursday, March 6: The House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on the President’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal with U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.


MedPAC Meeting

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) will hold a meeting on Thursday and Friday, March 6-7. Agenda items include the following:

  • Site-neutral payments for select conditions treated in inpatient rehabilitation facilities and skilled nursing facilities;
  • Next steps in measuring quality across Medicare’s delivery systems;
  • Developing payment policy to promote use of services based on clinical evidence;
  • Per-beneficiary payment for primary care;
  • Synchronizing Medicare benchmarks across payment models; and
  • Improving risk-adjustment in the Medicare program.