Legislative Activity

Blizzard Postpones House Consideration of Veto Message on Reconciliation Legislation

Due to the winter storm in Washington, the House will no longer be in session this week. Previously, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had announced that on Tuesday, January 26, the House would consider the President’s veto message on H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015. The legislation, which passed the Senate on a 52-47 vote and the House on a 240-181 vote, seeks to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act. Of note, the legislation blocks federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year; repeals the individual and employer mandates, various tax subsidies, and Medicaid expansion; and seeks to eliminate the medical device tax and Cadillac tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage. The President issued his veto on January 8.

With the inclement weather, the hearing schedules for the House and Senate are also subject to change.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, January 26: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing titled “Developments in the Prescription Drug Market: Oversight.”
  • Tuesday, January 26: The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing titled “Breaking the Cycle: Mental Health and the Justice System.”
  • Wednesday, January 27: The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a markup to consider legislation, including: H.R. 4063, the Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act, which seeks to improve the use by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of opioids in treating veterans, enhance patient advocacy by the Secretary, and increase the availability of complementary and integrative health; and H.R. 1769, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015, which establishes in the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center for research on health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances.
  • Wednesday, January 27: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations will hold a hearing titled “The Growing Threat of Cholera and Other Diseases in the Middle East.”
  • Wednesday, January 27: The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold an oversight hearing titled “Reexamining the Substandard Quality of Indian Health Care in the Great Plains.”
  • Wednesday, January 27: The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing titled “Attacking America’s Epidemic of Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse.”
  • Thursday, January 28: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing titled “Generic Drug User Fee Amendments: Accelerating Patient Access to Generic Drugs.”
  • Thursday, January 28: The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold an Executive Business Meeting to consider nominations and legislation, including S. 483, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015, which seeks to improve enforcement efforts related to prescription drug diversion and abuse.

Regulatory Activity

CMS Releases Final Rule on Medicaid Drug Reimbursement

On Thursday, January 21, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule titled “Medicaid Program; Covered Outpatient Drugs.” The final rule implements certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act related to Medicaid reimbursement of covered outpatient drugs. It also revises requirements related to these drugs, including significant aspects of Medicaid coverage and payment and the Medicaid drug rebate program. CMS has estimated that these reforms will save federal and state governments $2.7 billion over five years.

The final rule is effective on April 1, 2016. It is set for publication in the Federal Register on February 1, and comments on the final rule will be accepted for 60 days thereafter.