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On the Hill: Senate to Vote on Bipartisan Opioid Package

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

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing last week and marked up several Medicaid-related bills, including:

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.

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About the Author

Erin Delaney is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.