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Daily News

July 29, 2019

CMS proposed a payment rule Monday (July 29) meant to encourage dialysis facilities to adopt new equipment and supplies while also increasing pay for those facilities and updating the pricing system for medical devices.

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A federal judge on Monday (July 29) again ruled against Medicaid work requirements -- this time by striking down New Hampshire’s plan to adopt the controversial policy.

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Democratic primary candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is pushing a variation of Medicare for All that would both create a public option and preserve a Medicare Advantage-adjacent private insurance option.

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A coalition of seven stakeholders appealed a federal district court’s decision to uphold the Trump administration’s rule expanding the scope of short-term health plans, arguing that the plans undermine consumer protections for people with preexisting conditions and can discriminate based on age, gender or health status.

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The Trump administration will not allow states to receive enhanced federal Medicaid funding under the Affordable Care Act if they only partially expand Medicaid, a CMS spokesperson confirmed Saturday (July 27), dealing a blow to Utah and other red states that were hoping to adopt limited versions of expansion and still receive the ACA’s full 90% federal match rate.

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Freshman Democratic Rep. Katie Porter (CA) last week dived straight into an ongoing controversary over industry-funded premium assistance programs by asking HHS’ Office of Inspector General to investigate the American Kidney Fund and suspend the advisory opinion that lets AKF take contributions from dialysis firms without facing anti-kickback penalties.

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Drug makers would pay a significantly larger share of costs in Medicare Part D under the Senate Finance Committee’s new drug-pricing plan, according to Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) office.

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July 26, 2019

The American Medical Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans are sparring over the arbitration policy in the House’s surprise billing fix as Senate health committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) weighs adding a similar policy to his bill.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) released a rural health plan Friday (July 26) that includes proposed improvements to Medicare and Medicaid, particularly for seniors and new mothers, following on the heels of other presidential hopefuls who have released health plans to address rural populations, seniors, and mothers.

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A bipartisan introduced in the House Thursday (July 25) would authorize up to 25 grants to state and local entities seeking to tackle social determinants of health by offering new services to Medicaid enrollees, such as food and housing. The bill was introduced by Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Tom Cole (R-OK) and Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA).

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The Senate on Thursday (July 25) approved another short-term funding extension for a pilot program that provides enhanced Medicaid reimbursements to community-based clinics that treat mental illness and substance use disorders.

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Hemp farmers, producers, manufacturers and processors, including those in tribal communities, told a Senate panel they are eagerly awaiting FDA’s next move on regulating cannabis-based products, namely those containing cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp, as those regulatory steps will drive the market.

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Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Thursday (July 25) warned fellow GOP senators that the drug pricing bill he negotiated with ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (OR) is moderate compared to policies being considered by the Trump administration and House Democrats.

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House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders from both parties wrote to FDA Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless on Thursday (July 25) suggesting the agency consider seeking help from state medical boards in overseeing the burgeoning stem cell clinics, or, at the very least, share compliance letters that could be used by the boards to revoke licenses of violative physicians.

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A cell biologist praised House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders for suggesting FDA needs to step up its oversight of stem cell products amidst a surge of lawsuits and warning letters sent to violative manufacturers and clinics.

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July 25, 2019

Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) said Thursday (July 25) it is “very likely” the Trump administration will take its own steps to lower drug prices in Part D, though the details are in flux. Meadows said he attended a drug-pricing meeting Wednesday between President Donald Trump and drug lobbyists that was first reported by Politico.

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Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are nearing an agreement to add an arbitration backstop to the committee's surprise billing legislation, bringing the Senate plan more in line with the House version. Cassidy expects that they’ll finalize the policy over the August recess.

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Medicare Advantage plans and some Medicare advocates are asking CMS to work with plans on a framework to sustainably implement supplemental benefits for the chronically ill in 2020, coming as the Bipartisan Policy Center calls for Congress to follow MA’s lead and also authorize non-medical benefits for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries with chronic illnesses.

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Thirteen Republican senators and one Democrat voted Thursday (July 25) to kill President Donald Trump’s plan to connect Medicare payment for physician-administered drugs to foreign drug prices in a rebuke of one of the administration’s last remaining drug-pricing policies.

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In a tie vote, an amendment to repeal a key measure of the Senate Finance Committee’s drug-pricing bill failed Thursday (July 25).

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