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Daily News

March 21, 2018

House lawmakers passed 267-149 Wednesday (March 21) evening the Right to Try bill that they failed to pass last week, but it's not clear that the Senate will pass it because Democrats balked at including the bill in must-pass omnibus spending legislation, a source close to negotiations said.

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The White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) issued a report Wednesday (March 21) finding that despite losses in the initial years after the Affordable Care Act's key coverage expansions went live, health insurers' profitably is rising -- largely due to increased premiums and Medicaid payments funded by the government.

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A group of Republican lawmakers looking to attach ACA marketplace stabilization measures to the upcoming omnibus blasted Democrats for blocking the legislation in order to gain political points going into the midterm elections, and also told reporters that they would not remove Hyde amendment provisions to meet Democratic demands.

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Although unreleased at press time, the omnibus appropriations bill is not expected to include a measure, backed by brand drug companies, to lower their share of Medicare Part D coverage-gap costs, congressional staff and drug lobbyists say.

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If prior efforts are any indication, the latest federal government bid to eliminate overlapping food safety roles played by FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is likely to fail, a former USDA food safety chief told Inside Health Policy.

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Mental health advocates and Medicaid managed care plans are cheering the Trump administration's proposal to allow Medicaid to pay for substance abuse treatment in large residential facilities, but so far it has gotten little traction in Congress, and one industry analyst said its chances of passing remain less than 50 percent.

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As stakeholders await regulations that are expected to establish parameters around third parties seeking to pay premiums or other cost sharing on behalf of exchange enrollees -- and which could allow plans to reject those payments -- advocates continue to push legislation that would require issuers to accept the funding as they say the current restrictive policy is harmful and discriminatory.

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March 20, 2018

Senate Republicans say that they hope to include Affordable Care Act market stabilization in their version of the omnibus package, but are awaiting the release of the House version of the spending bill before unveiling their legislation.

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HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that he has not been involved in discussions about blocking ‘silver-loading’ plans in 2019 and is not aware of any agency discussions about ending the practice at the moment.

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Omnibus appropriations legislation is no longer expected to lower brand drug makers’ share of Part D coverage-gap costs, congressional staff and brand drug lobbyists say, but generic drug lobbyists say the brand-backed Part D measure has a good chance of being included along with a ban on so-called pay-for-delay settlements that generic drug makers oppose.

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FDA is seeking information about the role that flavors play in initiation, use and cessation of tobacco products, and is considering whether it can restrict advertising, promotion or access to these products, the agency announced in its advance notice of proposed rulemaking published on Tuesday (March 20).

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The Medicare bid program for durable medical equipment is making it difficult for beneficiaries to obtain oxygen equipment by cutting reimbursement too far, which hurts health care outcomes and costs Medicare more in the long-run due to increased hospitalizations, according to a report by the Council for Quality Respiratory Care that contradicts CMS' reassurances that seniors are not having a difficult time obtaining equipment.

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House Energy & Commerce ranking Democrat Frank Pallone (NJ) introduced legislation Tuesday (March 13) that would grant HHS and FDA more authority to refuse admission of controlled substances or other drugs into the United States if the agencies deem the products pose a health risk or are counterfeit.

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March 19, 2018

House Republicans on Monday (March 19) announced that the omnibus spending bill will not include funding for cost sharing reduction or reinsurance, due to partisan disagreements surrounding Hyde amendment language.

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The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the marketplace stabilization package introduced by a group of bicameral Republicans Monday (March 19) would cost a total $19.1 billion over the next decade.

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The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the marketplace stabilization package introduced by a group of bicameral Republicans Monday (March 19) would cost a total $19.1 billion over the next decade.

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The Trump administration plans to release a slate of proposals aimed at reducing prescription drug prices in about a month, President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Monday (March 19).

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President Donald Trump on Monday (March 19) announced his plan to combat the opioid crisis, which includes increasing federal funding for the development of non-addictive pain medicines, cutting nationwide opioid prescriptions by one-third over the next three years, and creating an educational campaign and commercials showcasing the harms of opioid abuse and addiction.

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The House Rules Committee voted Monday (March 19) to send the controversial Right to Try bill back to the floor for another vote after it failed to pass the House last week under suspension of the rules.

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The House introduced its revised draft over-the-counter (OTC) monograph legislation Monday (March 19).

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