House to Vote on Medical Device Excise Tax and IPAB Repeals
In the House of Representatives, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has announced that several health care bills will be considered on the floor this week.
Two of these bills dismantle portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). H.R. 160, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2015, repeals the excise tax on medical device manufacturers and importers. It has 282 bipartisan cosponsors. H.R. 1190, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2015, repeals the sections of the ACA that establish the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an entity to develop proposals to reduce spending growth in the Medicare program. It has 235 bipartisan cosponsors. Prior to any floor action, the House Committee on Rules will meet on Monday, June 15, to consider these pieces of legislation.
Several Medicare Advantage bills will be considered under suspension of the rules: H.R. 2505, the Medicare Advantage Coverage Transparency Act of 2015, as amended; H.R. 2507, the Increasing Regulatory Fairness Act of 2015, as amended; H.R. 2582, the Seniors’ Health Care Plan Protection Act of 2015, as amended; and H.R. 2570, the Strengthening Medicare Advantage through Innovation and Transparency for Seniors Act of 2015, as amended.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Monday, June 15: The House Committee on Rules will meet to consider H.R. 160, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2015, and H.R. 1190, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2015.
- Tuesday, June 16: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “Examining H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.”
- Tuesday, June 16: The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology will hold a hearing titled “The Science and Ethics of Genetically Engineered Human DNA.”
- Tuesday, June 16: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing titled “Achieving the Promise of Health Information Technology: What Can Providers and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Do to Improve the Electronic Health Record User Experience?”
- Wednesday, June 17: The House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a markup of the FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill.
- Thursday, June 18: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “A National Framework for the Review and Labeling of Biotechnology in Food.”
CMS Clarifies Use of Section 1311 Grant Funds
On Monday, June 8, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance titled “FAQs on the Clarification of the Use of 1311 Funds for Establishment Activities.” Section 1311 of the ACA authorized CMS to award grants to states for the purpose of establishing a health insurance exchange.
This guidance clarifies the appropriate use of Section 1311 grant funds after January 1, 2015, the date that marketplaces were statutorily required to be self-sustaining. Although states may not use funds for ongoing operations, the guidance clarifies that states will be permitted to use 1311 funds for establishment activities that were “specifically described” in their approved work plan. These acceptable activities may include instituting audit policies and procedures to comply with the State-based Marketplace Annual Reporting Tool (SMART), conducting outreach and education efforts, and stabilizing marketplace information technology systems.
Agencies Issue Final Rule on Summary and Benefits Coverage
On Friday, June 12, the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services (the Departments) jointly issued a final rule titled “Summary of Benefits and Coverage and Uniform Glossary.” Under the ACA, the Departments were required to develop standards for health insurance issuers in compiling and providing a summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) that “accurately describes the benefits and coverage under the applicable plan or coverage.”
Among other provisions, this rule addresses the: content of the SBC; electronic delivery of SBCs; standards for providing the SBC to health plans, participants, or beneficiaries; streamlining delivery of the SBC to prevent unnecessary duplication; and the process for imposing a fine for willful violations. Andy Slavitt, CMS Acting Administrator, stated that these changes will “improv[e] the information consumers receive when shopping for health care coverage” and “will make it easier for issuers and group health plans to provide accurate health coverage information to consumers.”
This rule is slated for publication in the Federal Register on Tuesday, June 16, and will be effective 60 days thereafter.