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.


Budget Chairmen Promise Budget Process Overhaul

Budget Committee chairmen Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.) have both begun efforts to rewrite the federal budget process. In the House, Chairman Price has said that he plans to hold several hearings before July 15 to examine ways to revise the 1974 budget law that created the modern appropriations process. He hopes to complete the overhaul this year. The Senate Budget Committee held a hearing last week on a possible overhaul, and Chairman Enzi has indicated that he is in the process of drafting an overhaul bill that could be released as early as May of this year. This bill would move from an annual budget and appropriations process to one that takes place every two years. Another proposal from Chairman Enzi would allow Congress to take up half of the 12 appropriations bills in one year, and the other half of the bills the next year. Rep. Price has appeared open to this idea.

House and Senate Take Steps to Address Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Both the House and the Senate have made progress in advancing a number of measures aimed at reducing the rate of heroin and prescription drug abuse across the nation. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously advanced the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill, which includes $132 million to address the growing abuse of heroin and prescription drugs. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health also approved 12 opioid-related bills. The Subcommittee approved the Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act (H.R. 4978), the Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act of 2015 (H.R. 3680), the Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act of 2015 (H.R. 3691), the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2015 (H.R. 1818), the DXM Abuse Prevention Act of 2015 (H.R. 3250), the John Thomas Decker Act (H.R. 4969), Lali’s Law (H.R. 4586), the Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016 (H.R. 4599), the Opioid Review Modernization Act (H.R. 4976), the Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act of 2016, the Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act, and legislation to provide for the establishment of an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication. The legislation will be taken up by the full committee on Tuesday. Bipartisan leadership on the House Ways and Means Committee have written to Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Andy Slavitt requesting that his agency improve the transparency of mental and behavioral health data. While CMS has a standard list of chronic conditions used for data releases, the congressmen believe that the information relating to mental health conditions needs to be more granular in order to be meaningful. “With the growing opioid epidemic in the U.S., it is important to provide more robust data for analysis,” the lawmakers write. The letter was signed by Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Health Subcommittee Chairman Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-Wash.). This week, the House Judiciary Committee will consider a version of Senate legislation to combat opioid abuse that easily passed the chamber last month. The House version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) has a narrower scope focusing on Justice Department grants for states to enhance addiction treatment and prevention efforts. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will separately mark up the provisions related to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from the Senate-passed CARA this week. The House Judiciary Committee plans to mark up its own set of bills this month, and a full package of bills is expected to be brought to the floor in May.

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