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Daily News

January 23, 2020

House Democrats are considering celebrating the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act by voting on legislation to strengthen former President Barack Obama’s signature law, and in turn sending a pre-election message that Democrats will work to protect Americans’ health benefits, according to a well-placed lobbyist.

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A new coalition of right-wing groups is lobbying Congress to adopt a surprise billing fix that doesn’t include a benchmark payment rate, like the policy in the compromise hammered out by the Senate health and House Energy & Commerce committees.

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Some kidney care stakeholders say the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission seems to be at odds with the administration over the need for innovation in treatments for end stage renal disease patients after commissioners at their January meeting leaned toward eliminating the transitional drug add-on payment adjustment to the ESRD pay bundle.

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Congress’ Medicaid advisors are carefully watching a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation model to see how it improves maternal health for mothers with substance use disorders as it gets underway this year, and suggested they might weigh in to highlight the authority states already have to reshape their Medicaid programs to better serve mothers with substance use disorders.

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Beneficiary advocates say they anticipated Republicans would try to make up $1.5 trillion or so spent on the 2017 tax cuts in 2017 by reducing spending on entitlement programs, and so they were not surprised the president seemingly broke from his earlier pledges to protect Medicare and suggested during a Wednesday interview that changes to entitlement programs would come out toward the end of the year if he wins another term.

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The House Energy & Commerce Committee health subcommittee will hold a hearing on Jan. 29 to discuss legislative proposals aimed at improving the safety of food and drugs and increasing regulatory transparency, the subcommittee announced Wednesday (Jan. 22).

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Executives of the top five e-cigarette manufacturers will testify before the House Energy & Commerce oversight subcommittee on Feb. 5, E&C Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and oversight subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) announced Wednesday (Jan. 22).

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The House Energy & Commerce oversight subcommittee’s top Republican is pushing legislation that would give FDA authority to seize and destroy counterfeit medical devices, combination products and vaccines coming across U.S. borders.

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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D) is proposing to create an office that would develop a plan to import Canadian drugs.

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January 22, 2020

The White House budget office is reviewing an FDA rule that calls for color graphic warnings to be included on cigarette packages and in cigarette advertisements.

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CMS will allow Texas to use federal funding for its family planning services for women not previously eligible for Medicaid, although those funds cannot be used by any organization in the state that provides abortions.

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House Education & Labor Committee Democrats are gathering information from the Department of Labor that could lay the foundation for legislative action to bolster the federal government’s enforcement of mental health parity law when it comes to employer-sponsored plans.

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Air ambulance executives told federal regulators last week that they must send patients expensive “surprise medical bills” to compensate for underpayment from private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid.

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FDA plans to address challenges in developing products to treat rare disorders, including what a key stakeholder views as a first-ever agency focus on individualized treatments, at a public meeting slated for Feb. 24.

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Heading into 2020, third-party medical device servicers will focus on two key issues: extending right-to-repair laws to medical devices, and addressing cybersecurity on older medical devices, industry representatives told Inside Health Policy.

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January 21, 2020

Hours after the Supreme Court rejected Democrats’ call to quickly review the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the GOP attorneys general challenging the law asked for additional time, until March 17, to make their pitch that the case should stay out of the high court, regardless of the timing.

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House Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce and Education & Labor Committee leaders are asking HHS and the Department of Labor to better inform individuals with COBRA about their Medicare eligibility, as the lawmakers say those who become eligible for Medicare while they have COBRA coverage face potential financial liabilities due to the current lack of coordination.

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CMS will cover acupuncture for chronic low back pain as part of its efforts to increase access to alternatives to prescription opioids, the agency announced Tuesday (Jan. 21).

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday (Jan. 21) rejected calls to fast-track its decision on whether to hear the latest constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act, essentially guaranteeing that the court will not weigh in on the case before the 2020 presidential election.

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FDA Deputy Director of Regulatory Programs Doug Throckmorton assured lawmakers during a recent hearing that the agency doesn’t need more authority from Congress to regulate cannabidiol (CBD) products.

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