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.


Congress Begins Spring Break Without Progress on Budget

Before adjourning for a two-week spring recess, appropriators in the House of Representatives marked up the 2017 spending measure for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and military construction projects. The bill adheres to the top-line spending limits established in last year’s budget deal. While progress is being made on individual spending bills, members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus continue to oppose the Republican budget resolution on account of the budget deal’s $1.07 trillion discretionary spending limit. The group would have the resolution revert back to the previous spending caps of $1.04 trillion. Under normal procedure, no appropriations bills are brought to the House floor until both chambers have adopted a budget resolution conference report, or the House has passed a deeming resolution, also containing an enforceable topline, with a simple majority vote. In the absence of an adopted budget or deeming resolution, the House may begin considering bills on the floor after May 15. The House will be back in session on April 11. The Senate will meet again on April 4.

Seniors Regularly Use Dangerous Drug Combinations

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that one in six of the nation’s seniors regularly uses a potentially dangerous combination of prescription drugs, over the counter medications, and dietary supplements. The study examined 2,000 adults between the ages of 62 and 85 across the country between the periods of 2005-2006 and 2010-2011. The number of seniors using at least five prescriptions increased from 30 percent to 35 percent over this time period. The use of dietary supplements also grew over time. Nearly 15 percent of study participants used a dangerous drug combination in 2011, up from 8 percent in 2005.

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