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.


Part B Demonstration Dropped

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has decided not to pursue the proposed Medicare Part B drug payment model demonstration. The model, aimed at reducing the rising cost of prescription drugs, was opposed by many stakeholders for its nationwide-scope and potential to disrupt patient access to care. The demonstration also drew resistance from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and the decision not to finalize the proposed rule was praised by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “While there was a great deal of support from some, a number of stakeholders expressed strong concerns about the Model,” a spokesperson for CMS said. “While CMS was working to address these concerns, the complexity of the issues and the limited time available led to the decision not to finalize the rule at this time.”

CMS Data Officer to Depart in Advance of New Administration

Niall Brennan announced that he would be leaving his position as Chief Data Officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in January. He has held the position, which reports directly to CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, since November 2014. During his time at CMS, Brennan headed CMS’ open data initiative, which saw the release of agency data sets for the purpose of comparing physician performance, Part D prescriptions, and fee-for-service payments. He also worked on issues related to HealthCare. gov. Brennan hopes that the new administration will continue to be transparent in the annual release of updated CMS data. Brennan’s deputy Chris Cox, formerly of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), will assume the position of acting chief data officer and acting head of the Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics.

Drug Pricing Report Sent to Congress

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has sent a report to Congress on prescription drug spending. The report was requested by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) in the 2015 spending bill, and was supposed to compare net prices paid by the federal government for the most expensive drugs and the most frequently prescribed drugs across Medicare Parts B and D, the Medicaid program, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Instead, the report provides general information about drug spending across each program and the gross price of certain prescriptions. The report was due more than six months ago. It has been criticized by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Co-Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Prescription Drug Task Force, for not including details about the net costs of drugs across government health care programs, and for its inclusion of studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry. The report does, however, detail total annual prescription drug costs, and information about patient  satisfaction and access to prescription drugs. It also analyzes the costs of bringing new drugs to market.

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