Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


VA Waiting List Problem Brings Down Secretary Shinseki

After the Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) confirmed that the Phoenix VA hospital is only symptomatic of the systemic problems with veterans getting needed health care, Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation was accepted by President Obama “with deep regret”. As the Senate returns this week, legislation to address the problems in the VA are being readied in that body as well as in the House of Representatives.

Health Legislative Actions in House

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee approved without objection the bill H.R. 4631, the Combating Autism Act, which reauthorizes the program for five years. The substitute amendment by Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) was pre-approved by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and other principals in the Senate which should ease passage in both bodies. However, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) said he would still like to resolve several outstanding issues, such as the specification of the federal agency to have responsibility for assessing the needs of children and adolescents with autism who are transitioning to adulthood as well as the information necessary for reporting. Also, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities has called on Congress to rename the legislation as the “Autism Research Training and Education (ARTE) Act”. Among other things, the bill would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to designate a department official to oversee national autism spectrum disorder research, services and support activities. The Health Subcommittee also voice voted H.R. 4299, legislation that would require the Attorney General to issue regulations for scheduling drugs and make final decisions on registration applications for manufacturing or distributing controlled substances that will only be used for clinical trials. In like manner the panel approved H.R. 4709, legislation that intends to make improvements to the process for revoking and suspending registrations for controlled substances and report to Congress on the extent of any potential negative effects that law enforcement activities might have on patient access to medications. The House also suspended the rules and passed H.R. 4261, the Gulf War Health Research Reform Act of 2014, legislation designed to improve the research of Gulf War illnesses.

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