Health Bills Scheduled For House Floor Action
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has announced that on Monday, November 16, the House will consider two health bills under suspension of the rules: S. 599, the Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act, which extends and expands the Medicaid emergency psychiatric demonstration project; and S. 799, the Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015, which focuses on reducing the rise of prenatal opioid abuse and neonatal abstinence syndrome.
House Committee On Energy And Commerce To Mark Up Health Legislation
On Tuesday, November 17, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a markup to consider nine pieces of legislation. The health bills to be considered will include: H.R. 1321, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which forbids the sale of cosmetics containing synthetic plastic microbeads; H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015, as amended by the Subcommittee on Health, which clarifies disclosure requirements for restaurants and retail food establishments; H.R. 3014, the Medical Controlled Substances Transportation Act, which authorizes physicians to transport controlled substances from practice setting to practice setting or to a disaster area pursuant to an agreement with the Attorney General; H.R. 3537, the Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2015, which clarifies how controlled substance analogues are to be regulated; H.R. 3716, the Ensuring Terminated Providers Are Removed from Medicaid and CHIP Act, as amended by the Subcommittee on Health, which requires states to provide the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services information on provider terminations; and H.R. 3821, the Medicaid Directory of Caregivers Act, as amended by the Subcommittee on Health, which requires publication of a provider director when states provide medical assistance on a fee-for-service basis or through a primary care case-management system.
Senate Committee On Health, Education, Labor, And Pensions (HELP) To Consider Health Bills And Nominations
On Wednesday, November 18, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will meet in executive session to consider: H.R. 2820, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2015, which reauthorizes the National Cord Blood Inventory program and the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program through FY2020; S. 1719, the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers Act of 2015, which establishes and maintains a National Family Caregiving Strategy; Victoria Lipnic to be a Member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Michael Michaud to be Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training, Department of Labor; and any additional nominations cleared for action.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, November 17: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “Examining the Regulation of Diagnostic Tests and Laboratory Operations.”
- Tuesday, November 17: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a markup to consider nine pieces of legislation, including health legislation.
- Tuesday, November 17: The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “H.R. 1319; H.R. 1603; H.R. 1904; H.R. 2639; H.R. 3234; H.R. 3471; H.R. 3549; Draft Legislation, the Promoting Responsible Opioid Management and Incorporating Medical Expertise Act; and, A VA Legislative Proposal, the VA Purchased Health Care Streamlining and Modernization Act.”
- Tuesday, November 17: The House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law will hold a hearing titled “The State of Competition in the Pharmacy Benefit Manager and Pharmacy Marketplaces.”
- Tuesday, November 17: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing titled “Nomination of Dr. Robert Califf to Serve as FDA Commissioner.”
- Tuesday, November 17: The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing titled “Physician Owned Distributors: Are They Harmful to Patients and Payers?”
- Wednesday, November 18: The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing titled “Choice Consolidation: Assessing VA’s Plan to Improve Care in the Community.”
- Wednesday, November 18: The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing titled “Pending Health and Benefits Legislation.”
- Wednesday, November 18: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a markup to consider health legislation and nominations.
- Wednesday, November 18: The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session to consider nine legislative measures and three nominations, including S. 1916, the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015, which allows skilled nursing facilities to request from a telecommunications carrier the necessary telecommunication services to serve persons in rural areas at rates reasonably similar to those used for comparable services in urban areas.
- Thursday, November 19: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing titled “U.S. Public Health Preparedness for Seasonal Influenza: Has the Response Improved?”
Medicare Premiums And Deductibles Announced
On Tuesday, November 10, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the 2016 premiums and deductibles for the Medicare Parts A and B programs. Of note, the 2016 Part B premiums reflect provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act, which addressed an impending premium hike for certain beneficiaries. Earlier this year, the Social Security Administration announced that there would be no cost of living increase for 2016. For that reason, majority of beneficiaries would be “held harmless” from a Part B premium increase and would continue to pay the same monthly premium as last year. However, approximately 30 percent of beneficiaries, who do not qualify for the hold harmless rule, would have been subject to an over 50 percent increase in Part B monthly premiums. Reflecting the budget deal, this notice announced that beneficiaries who are not held harmless will pay $121.80 per month in 2016, while majority of beneficiaries will continue to pay $104.90, the 2015 monthly premium.
Agencies Continue ACA Implementation
On Friday, November 13, the Internal Revenue Service, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule titled “Final Rules for Grandfathered Plans, Preexisting Condition Exclusions, Lifetime and Annual Limits, Rescissions, Dependent Coverage, Appeals, and Patient Protections under the Affordable Care Act.” This rule implements certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including provisions related to grandfathered health plans, preexisting condition exclusions, dollar limits on benefits, rescissions, coverage of dependent children up to 26 years of age, and processes for internal and external review.
While this rule largely finalizes the interim rule, as interpreted by existing guidance, it also clarifies that certain transitional policies are no longer in effect. For example, for plan years prior to 2014, the interim rule permitted certain grandfathered health plans to exclude from coverage dependent adult children under the age of 26 years if the child was eligible to enroll in an employer-sponsored health plan other than their parents’ health plan. Because this transitional policy only applied to plan years before 2014, it was not incorporated into the final rule.
This rule is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Wednesday, November 18.