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Daily News

April 03, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) applauded FDA for funding research on durations of use for antibiotics in food animals.

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The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration is consulting with the Justice Department on whether to appeal a federal court ruling that shot down key parts of the administration’s final rule expanding access to association health plans.

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CMS is considering potential rulemaking to deal with so-called Duals-Special Needs Plan look-alikes, as the agency says stakeholders’ concerns have reinforced the idea that the proliferation of these plans impedes meaningfully integrated Medicare-Medicaid products.

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April 02, 2019

The Senate on Tuesday (April 2) passed a bill to stop drug companies from avoiding Medicaid rebates by misclassifying brand drugs as generics, sending the first drug-pricing bill of this Congress to the president’s desk.

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President Donald Trump stepped back his demand that the Senate immediately craft a health bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, following a conversation with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and is now saying that a plan will be voted on after the 2020 elections.

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Democratic senators on Tuesday reintroduced a revised version of their Medicare-X bill that would make a government-run public option available first in areas that lack competition, but by 2025 the plan would be in all individual and small business exchanges.

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Ranking House Energy & Commerce Committee Republican Greg Walden (OR) said the two parties seem to have worked out differences on FDA-related drug pricing bills that the committee will mark up Wednesday (April 3).

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Republicans and Democrats both said they want to pass legislation that shield patients from surprise billing during the House Education & Labor Committee's first hearing on the issue, and they looked toward existing state regulations as a possible roadmap.

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A federal district court judge denied multiple requests from the federal government to stop a lawsuit beneficiary advocates first brought about eight years ago seeking appeal rights for Medicare beneficiaries that are put under observation rather than admitted to the hospital, and the judge says the suit should quickly move to trial.

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Nebraska’s governor on Monday (April 1) unveiled a plan to delay the state’s voter-approved Medicaid expansion by more than a year and create two different tiers of coverage in the expansion population where beneficiaries would have to meet a work requirement to qualify for full Medicaid benefits.

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In a white paper released Tuesday (April 2), FDA details an oversight process that outgoing agency commissioner Scott Gottlieb said could allow artificial intelligence-based medical devices to iterate autonomously while still letting FDA provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness.

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HHS Inspector General Dan Levinson will be leaving the administration at end of May after 14 years as IG, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced in a statement on Tuesday (April 2).

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Rep. Michael Burgess said maybe Medicare and Medicaid should cover insulin without cost-sharing because the cost to the health care system of diabetics rationing the drug is likely greater than the additional cost of covering it outright.

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FDA will host a public hearing May 13 to gather input from stakeholders on what the agency could do to spur the first-ever availability of interchangeable prescription insulin products, coming as lawmakers criticize insulin makers for increasing prices to the point that some patients haven’t been able to afford the life-saving products.

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Sen. Rick Scott said Tuesday (April 2) that he told President Donald Trump he is focused on lowering prescription drug prices, despite the president's request last week that he help lead an effort to replace the Affordable Care Act.

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April 01, 2019

Medicare Advantage plans will see a higher overall pay bump in 2020 than projected under the draft call letter, CMS announced on Monday (April 1) when the final rate notice and call letter for next year was released.

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Hospitals are pleased that the Health Resources and Services Administration made the 340B ceiling price website available to 340B providers on Monday (April 1), and Maureen Testoni, president and CEO of 340B Health, said the group expects to get feedback from members over the next few months about the website and possible discrepancies between what hospitals pay for 340B drugs and the cap on what they should be charged.

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CMS on Monday (April 1) finalized a policy to let Medicare Advantage (MA) plans offer supplemental benefits for the chronically ill in 2020 -- including those that may increase a beneficiary’s property value -- as part of the MA and Part D call letter for next year.

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Health care stakeholders remain fixated on the lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality as key Republican and Democratic senators urge Attorney General William Barr to explain the Department of Justice’s surprise move to call for the entire health law to be scrapped and as stakeholders file “friend of the court” briefs in the controversial case, Texas v. Azar, which is now on appeal at the Firth Circuit Court.

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CMS did not eliminate nonpreferred drug tiers or stop insurers from placing generics on brand drugs tiers.

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