After weeks of negotiations, the Senate is expected to vote this week on a bipartisan legislative package to combat the opioid crisis.
The Senate legislation differs from the House-passed opioid bill, H.R. 6, in that it would not repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. Also notable: The Senate bill does not align regulations governing confidentiality of substance use disorder treatment records (42 CFR Part 2) with HIPAA standards. Once approved, the Senate legislation must be reconciled with H.R. 6 through conference committee negotiations.
The Senate this week also will vote on S. 2554, which would ban “gag clauses” in pharmacy contracts. The bill would allow pharmacists to tell patients about cheaper alternatives to medications prescribed by their physician.
House Action This Week
This week, the House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 3798, the Save American Workers Act of 2017. The legislation would retroactively suspend the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, effective 2015 through 2018, and change the definition of a full-time employee, increasing the minimum hours worked from 30 to 40, for the purpose of enforcing the employer mandate. In addition, the legislation would delay the “Cadillac Tax” on high-value health plans for an additional year, until 2023.
Energy and Commerce Panel Examines Health-Related Bills
- a bill, H.R. 3891, to clarify the authority of state Medicaid fraud and abuse control units to investigate and prosecute cases of Medicaid patient abuse and neglect in any setting;
- the ACE Kids Act, H.R. 3325, to give states the option of providing coordinated care for children with complex medical conditions through a health home;
- a bill to prohibit group health plans, health insurance issuers, prescription drug plan sponsors, and Medicare Advantage organizations from limiting certain information on drug prices; and
- a bill directing the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a public-private partnership to identify health care waste, fraud, and abuse.
America’s Essential Hospitals sent the committee a letter of support for the ACE Kids Act.
Upcoming Congressional Hearings
The Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a Sept. 13 hearing to examine barriers to expanding innovative, value-based care for Medicare beneficiaries.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a Sept. 18 hearing on reducing health care costs and using transparency to lower spending and empower patients.