Legislative Activity

House Republicans to Release ACA Alternative

House Republicans announced they will release their long-awaited Affordable Care Act (ACA) Alternative this week. The Speaker’s Task Force on Health Care Reform was announced in January and is one of six committee-led task forces charged with developing “a bold, pro-growth agenda.” Members of the Health Care Task Force include  House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), and Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA). Republicans believe the alternative will demonstrate to voters how they plan to improve certain parts of the current health care system, and replace others that are not working. It is said the plan will include ideas republicans have touted in the past such as high-risk pools, tax benefits for buying insurance coverage, Health Savings Accounts, health plans for small business collectives, and capping the tax benefits employers receive for providing coverage. A version of Speaker Ryan’s Medicare premium support idea and capping reimbursements for Medicaid beneficiaries may also be addressed in the alternative. The Republican Alternative is not expected to include a price tag.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Monday, June 20: The House Committee on Rules will hold a meeting on H.R. 5485, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2017 and H.R. 1270, the Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2015.
  • Tuesday, June 21: The Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing titled “The CREATES Act: Ending Regulatory Abuse, Protecting Consumers, and Ensuring Drug Price Competition.”
  • Wednesday, June 22: The House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing titled “The 2016 Annual Report of the Social Security Board of Trustees.”
  • Thursday, June 23: The House Committee on Veterans Affairs will hold a hearing on various legislation including H.R. 5416, A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand burial benefits for veterans who die while receiving hospital care or medical services under the Veterans Choice Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes; H.R. 3126, A bill to amend Title 38, United States Code, to clarify emergency hospital care furnished by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to certain veterans; H.R. 4150, the Department of Veterans Affairs Emergency Medical Staffing Recruitment and Retention Act; H.R. 5407, A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Labor to prioritize the provision of services to homeless veterans with dependent children in carrying out homeless veterans reintegration programs, and for other purposes; H.R. 5162, the Vet Connect Act; H.R. 5392, the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act; and H.R. 4764, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2016.
  • Thursday, June 23: The Senate Committee on Aging will hold a hearing titled “The Right Care at the Right Time: Ensuring Person-Centered Care for Individuals with Serious Illness.”
  • Thursday, June 23: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, and Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats will hold a hearing titled “Organ Harvesting: An Examination of a Brutal Practice.”
  • Friday, June 24: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “Strengthening Our National Trauma System.”

Regulatory Activity

CMS Issues Proposed Rule to Improve Quality of Care

On Monday, June 13, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a proposed rule to improve the quality of care by updating the requirements hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) must meet to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The CMS proposal requires hospitals to develop and implement a hospital infection prevention program; establish and enforce a policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability;  and it makes several clarifications and revisions to current requirements including requirements for antibiotic stewardship programs and the use of quality reporting program data by hospital Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement programs. CMS states the “proposals are intended to conform the requirements to current standards of practice to support improvements in quality care, reduce barriers to care, and reduce some issues that may exacerbate workforce shortage concerns.” Comments on the proposed rule are due by Monday, August 15, 2016.