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.


Republicans Finalize Party Platform

The Republican Party formally approved their policy platform at the GOP convention last week. Much of the platform focuses on well-known social conservative issues, such as repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The party pushes for medical liability reform and regulatory changes at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed drugs from development to market. Republicans also call for the criminalization of acquiring, transferring, or selling fetal tissue donations. The platform supports the use of block grants in the Medicaid program, as well as the use of a premium support option for future Medicare enrollees under the age of 55. On other issues relating to health care, there are some notable gaps between party leadership and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Trump has promised to defend Medicare against future cuts, which is at odds with some principles included in the final platform. Additionally, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices was not included in the platform, despite support from Trump throughout his campaign. When he was questioned about this proposal at the Convention, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) decisively denied that he would back the idea, citing data that indicates that government negotiation of drug prices would not save money.

Administration to Support Rural Areas Fight Addiction

The Obama Administration has announced $9 million in grants to rural health officials in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Pennsylvania over the next three years to help combat recent increases in overdose deaths. The money will allow the states to use a telemedicine-style training program to expand addiction treatment in areas that are underserved by health care providers. Known as Project ECHO, this model allows rural primary care doctors to watch videos by specialists trained in anti-addiction treatment. Project ECHO has previously been proven successful in teaching providers how to treat hepatitis C.

PCORI Approves $153 Million in Comparative Effectiveness Research

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has approved $153 million to support 28 patientcentered comparative clinical effectiveness research studies. PCORI also approved seven projects related to improving comparative effectiveness research methods. The funds will support work on a range of conditions and problems posing high burdens on patients, caregivers, and the health care system, including chronic pain, multiple sclerosis (MS), and treatment-resistant depression. Other projects will focus on the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications to treat blood clots in the veins and lungs, as well as low-molecular-weight heparins and aspirin to prevent clots in patients with broken bones. PCORI has approved more 549 studies and related projects since 2012, totaling more than $1.4 billion.

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