September 8 - 12, 2014
The Past Week in Health Policy
Federal Rules and Regulations
• A final rule from the DEA expands the entities to which users may transfer unused, unwanted, or expired pharmaceutical controlled substances for the purpose of disposal, as well as the methods by which such pharmaceutical controlled substances may be collected.
• The FDA is calling for comments from health care practitioners regarding medical device labeling format and content.
• The Employee Health Care Protection Act of 2013, introduced by Representative Bill Cassidy (R-LA), passed the House. The bill permits a health insurance issuer that has in effect health insurance coverage in the group market on any date during 2013 to continue offering such coverage for sale during 2014 outside of a health care exchange established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
• The Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act of 2014, introduced by Senator Robert Casey Jr. (D-PA), passed the Senate.
• Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced a bill to create a patient-centered quality of care initiative for seriously ill patients through the establishment of a stakeholder strategic summit, quality of life education and awareness initiative, health care workforce training, an advisory committee, and palliative care focused research, and for other purposes.
• Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) introduced a bill to provide for conditions on the renewal of health insurance plans purchased through Exchanges.
• Representative Christopher Gibson (R-NY) introduced a bill to amend the Public Health Services Act to provide research, training, and navigator services to youth and young adults on the verge of aging out of the secondary educational system, and for other purposes.
• Senator John Thune (R-SD) introduced a bill to establish a demonstration program requiring the utilization of Value-Based Insurance Design to demonstrate that reducing the copayments or coinsurance charged to Medicare beneficiaries for selected high-value prescription medications and clinical services can increase their utilization and ultimately improve clinical outcomes and lower health care expenditures.
• Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced the Medicare Home Infusion Site of Care Act of 2014, which would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the coverage of home as a site of care for infusion therapy under the Medicare Program.
Key Developments, News, and Research
Affordable Care Act
• The House has approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy that would allow group health plans that would have been canceled because of Obamacare's coverage requirements to continue to operate through 2019. It was the first vote on the health care law since April.
• Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $16,834 this year, up 3 percent from last year, with workers on average paying $4,823 towards the cost of their coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2014 Employer Health Benefits Survey.
• A flaw in the federal calculator for certifying that insurance meets the health law's toughest standard is leading dozens of large employers to offer plans that lack basic benefits such as hospitalization coverage, according to brokers and consultants.
• Sixty-four patient advocacy groups led by the National Health Council asked CMS Wednesday to exclude from the Open Payments Program indirect payments to doctors through voluntary health agencies.
• New research from the Brookings Institution examines the impact of state policy decisions on the early impact of the ACA using data through the first half of 2014. Market participants in the six states that had severe exchange glitches are worse off by approximately $750 per participant on an annualized basis, relative to participants in other states with their own exchanges.
• The Urban Institute's health reform monitoring survey found that the uninsured rate for kids under age 18 did not budge between September 2013 and June 2014 under the health law.
• The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Minority Health awarded 3.2 million in grants to 13 organizations that will help educate and encourage minority communities to sign up for health plans through the marketplaces.
• CVS Health is investigating a potential retail glitch in its drug pricing system that appears to have charged women copayments for prescription birth control – though the scope of the error is unclear.
• A new study by researchers at Stanford University suggests that fewer people ages 19 to 25 are using ERs due to a provision in the ACA that allows those young adults to retain coverage under their parent's health insurance plans.
• Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) unveiled a much more modest plan Monday after being thwarted by federal rules and a last-minute change to state budget language.
• According to the Census Bureau's Quarterly Services Survey, total revenue at health care and social-assistance firms rose 3 percent in the second quarter of the year. But analysts described the increase as modest.
• A Health Affairs article released Thursday found that from 2005 to 2010 the number of reported drug shortages almost tripled.
• A fourth American health worker who contracted Ebola in West Africa arrived in Atlanta Tuesday morning and will be treated at a special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed clusters of a rare but serious respiratory illness in children in Missouri and Illinois, and testing is underway in several other states
• A new analysis for First Focus by Bill O'Hare shows that children in rural communities are more likely than their urban counterparts to get health care through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Premier, Inc. released new research on the widespread use of unnecessary and duplicative antibiotics in U.S. hospitals, which could have led to an estimated $163 million in excess costs.
Next Week in Health Policy
September 8 - 12, 2014
American Academy of Family Physicians: Briefing
"Aligning Resources, Increasing Accountability, and Delivering a Primary Care Physician Workforce for America"
September 15, 2014 10:30 a.m.
Capitol Visitors Center, Room SVC 201
Joint ONC / CHIME Briefing
"A View from Government and Industry Stakeholders on the Path Towards Health IT Interoperability"
September 16, 2014 11:45 a.m.
385 Russell Senate Office Building
Bipartisan Policy Center
"Building Better Health: Innovative Strategies from America's Business Leaders"
September 16, 2014 1:30 p.m.
Bipartisan Policy Center
1225 Eye Street NW
Suite 1000, 10th floor
Washington, DC 20005
*Registration has reached capacity
Partnership for Safe Medicines
"The Partnership for Safe Medicines Interchange 2014"
Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 8:00 a.m.
Newseum The Knight Conference Center
555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Cohosted by AEI and the Brookings Institution
"Reforming Medicare: What does the public think?"
September 19, 2014 9:15 a.m.
AEI, Twelfth Floor
1150 Seventeenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations: Joint Full Committee Hearing
"Ebola in West Africa: A Global Challenge and Public Health Threat"
September 16 2014, 2:30 p.m.
216 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate Committee on Finance: Subcommittee on Health Care
"The Children's Health Insurance Program: Protecting America's Children and Families"
Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 2:30 PM
215 Dirksen Senate Office Building
House Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing
"Suicide Prevention and Treatment: Helping Loved Ones in Mental Health Crisis"
Thursday, September 18, 2014 11:30 a.m.
2123 Rayburn House Office Building