Legislative Activity

President May Highlight Obamacare Successes in State of the Union Address

On Tuesday, January 12, President Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address to Congress. While details of the speech have yet to be released, last week, the President vetoed Congress’s budget reconciliation bill, which aimed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and defund Planned Parenthood. The President is thus expected to utilize Tuesday’s address to highlight successes of his signature health care reform law.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, January 12: The House Committee on the Judiciary will hold a markup of several bills, including H.R. 1854, the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015, which seeks to foster collaboration among criminal justice, juvenile justice, veterans treatment services, mental health treatment, and substance abuse systems.
  • Tuesday, January 12: The House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition will hold a hearing titled “Past, Present, and Future of SNAP: Addressing Special Populations.”
  • Tuesday, January 12: The Senate Committee on Armed Services will hold a hearing titled “Defense Health Care Reform.”
  • Tuesday, January 12: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a markup to vote on the nomination of Robert Califf to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Regulatory Activity

HHS-OCR Releases HIPAA Guidance

On Thursday, January 7, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance titled “Individuals’ Right under HIPAA to Access Their Health Information.” The guidance was released to clarify patients’ rights to their medical information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. It includes an overview of patients’ rights to access their own and another person’s information and topical Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

With the release of the guidance, OCR stated that it “will continue to develop additional guidance and other tools as necessary” so that individuals can understand and access their health information.

Other Activity

MedPAC Meeting This Week

On Thursday, January 14, and Friday, January 15, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) will hold a meeting to discuss Medicare policy issues and questions, as well as develop recommendations for Congress.  The agenda includes the following topics:

  • The Medicare Advantage program: Status report;
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Hospital inpatient and outpatient services;
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Physicians and other health professionals; ambulatory surgical centers; dialysis facilities; skilled nursing facilities; home health agencies; hospice; and long-term care hospitals;
  • Assessing payment adequacy and updating payments: Inpatient rehabilitation facility services;
  • Status report on Part D;
  • Mandated report: Developing a unified payment system for post-acute care; and
  • Alternative payment models (APMs): Potential principles and implementation issues.