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On the Hill: 340B Round Tables, Mental Health, ACA Co-Ops

America’s Essential Hospitals and two member health systems this week hosted round-table meetings for House and Senate lawmakers to discuss how 340B Drug Pricing Program draft guidance threatens vulnerable patients and their communities.

The well-attended breakfast and lunch events Tuesday, on Capitol Hill, featured representatives from Erlanger Health System, in Chattanooga, TN, and Harris Health, in Houston. Hospital leaders and association staff educated congressional staff about the negative impact pending 340B omnibus guidance from the Health Resources and Services Administration would have on essential hospitals and their patients.

In other news from Capitol Hill, the Senate returned to work this week, while the House remained in recess. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions held a hearing Wednesday on improving the federal response to challenges in mental health care. Witnesses represented the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, the Emergency Nurses Association, the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

This hearing is expected to be one in a series on mental health. The committee likely will hold further hearings on several mental health bills introduced this Congress, as well as legislation being crafted by the Committee Chair Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing Thursday to review health care co-ops. Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, will be the primary witness.  State-based co-ops were originally created as part of the Affordable Care Act as a means to lower premiums within health insurance marketplaces. But the program has received substantial criticism after about half of the existing co-ops went out of business in the past year due to financial strain.



About the Author

Walsh is a former senior manager of legislative affairs for America's Essential Hospitals.

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