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Daily News

June 13, 2019

FDA on Wednesday (June 12) issued a call for stakeholders to send pathogen samples to the agency in order to help build a database to support the rapid identification of infectious diseases in patients.

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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) once again took a jab at FDA for “sitting on the sidelines” as the United States grapples with an epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes, and he laid out the three steps he believes FDA can take right now to stem youth use of the products.

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As part of their investigation into the dangers of illicit fentanyl, much of which comes from China, a bipartisan group of House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders wrote to FDA Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless and heads of five other federal agencies to request briefings on the effect the opioid epidemic is having on public health and on their solutions for stopping the flow of illicit fentanyl into the United States.

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June 12, 2019

Lawmakers spent most of the House Ways & Means Committee’s hearing on pathways to universal health coverage focusing on partisan Medicare for All talking points, even though the hearing was supposed to give them the opportunity to talk up other proposals to expand government health care.

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CMS Administrator Seema Verma and senior advisor to the president Kellyanne Conway touted efforts by CMS and the Trump administration to improve maternal health in rural areas by extending Medicaid coverage for postpartum women with substance use disorders, but advocates said Medicaid coverage should be extended for all postpartum women and more states should expand Medicaid, speaking at a Kaiser Family Foundation event Wednesday (June 12).

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Beneficiary advocates called on CMS to provide more support for plans to tackle social determinants of health, including information on funding streams and support for community partners in working with Medicare Advantage plans to provide services, with one group saying that harmonizing social determinants data with electronic health records remains a challenge.

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The Center for Medicare Advocacy and Long Term Care Community Coalition ask CMS to make it obvious on the Nursing Home Compare website when a facility is a candidate for the Special Focus Facility program, noting the agency said it plans to make that list public.

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The American Medical Association announced Tuesday (June 11) that its House of Delegates adopted policies aimed at supporting and creating alternative pay models focused on high-risk and vulnerable populations, as the group says current APMs may inadvertently discourage doctors from caring for those individuals.

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Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) defended his and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (KY) tobacco-to-21 bill against criticism from health advocacy groups and some senators that the bill would put states at risk of losing funding for substance abuse treatment programs and would allow the tobacco industry to undermine anti-tobacco proposals at the state level.

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June 11, 2019

The White House has finished reviewing a regulation proposed by HHS, Treasury and Labor in October that would allow employees to purchase individual coverage with an employer-funded health reimbursement account (HRA), and stakeholders are waiting to see whether CMS implements the rule for the 2020 plan year, as proposed, and lets HRAs be used for short-term plans.

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A new coalition of influential employers and insurers is encouraging Congress to tackle surprise billing via legislation that sets a benchmark payment rate and does not include arbitration.

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House Ways & Means Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) is asking for feedback from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners on the possibility of having Medigap plans cover long-term support services for Medicare beneficiaries.

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Stakeholders are pushing the Senate health committee to do more to protect patients from out-of-network air ambulance bills in its final draft legislation to combat surprise medical bills, outlining several policy options they say would neither require input from other committees nor step on the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulatory turf.

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Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday (June 11) signed the state legislature’s bill that orders Florida to create a Canadian prescription drug importation program. Florida is the third state to pass such a law, and the first to enact one law passed by a Republican-dominated legislature.

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White House budget officials began reviewing Tuesday (June 11) HHS’ final version of a rule to ban drug rebates in Medicare and Medicaid that aren’t shared at the point of sale.

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FDA finalized guidance on Tuesday (June 11) that details the type of information sponsors of electronic nicotine delivery systems should include in their premarket approval applications.

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June 10, 2019

The White House Office of Management and Budget on June 5 began reviewing highly anticipated changes to the Stark, or physician self-referral, law.

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The White House Office of Management and Budget is reviewing a regulatory proposal to replace an interim final rule issued in 2016 that required dialysis firms inform commercial insurers when a patient’s premium would be covered by a third-party payer, including non-profit charities like the American Kidney Fund (AKF), but was later shot down in the courts.

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The Democratic-led House on Friday (June 7) filed a ‘friend of the court’ brief in a Maryland federal court supporting five cities and two individuals who claim the Trump administration illegally sabotaged the Affordable Care Act, despite pledging to “take care” to faithfully execute all laws.

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More than 100 provider groups called on Senate and House leaders to replace an upcoming pay freeze with pay bumps, extend alternative pay model bonuses and make other improvements to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015.

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