We are half way through this four week work stretch…
And the conversations continue to point to prescription drug pricing. Last week was a busy week on prescription drug pricing. The Purple Book Continuity Act of 2019 and Orange Book Transparency Act of 2019 passed the House, there were two prescription drug pricing hearings, and the Trump administration not only published the direct-to-consumer drug pricing transparency final rule but also signaled it is willing to advance state proposals to allow drug importation. This week the House will vote on a package that includes three bipartisan drug pricing bills: the CREATES Act, a ban on pay-for-delay settlements, and a measure to discourage abuse of 180-day exclusivity for first generic applicants. However, these three bills are joined with four partisan ACA bills. As a result, this package is unlikely to garner Republican support but ultimately will pass the House. We then turn to the Senate to see how they package and advance the bipartisan prescription drug pricing bills.
Additionally, surprise billing is gaining momentum. The Administration urged action on surprise billing and key congressional leaders are working together (in a bipartisan manner) to address the issue. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) are leading the bipartisan working group to address surprise billing. To date, only two bills on surprise billing have been introduced this Congress. However, Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), stated during last week’s White House press conference on surprise billing that Congress will bring the President a bipartisan bill in July. Proposals to address surprise billing could include arbitration, increasing transparency and setting payment rates for emergency services. Health care stakeholders will soon have to decide where they stand on potential solutions.
However, the extender timeline is still looming. Although we see clear action and movement on prescription drug pricing and surprise billing reforms, there is less clarity on the status of the extenders. We have yet to see a package emerge that addresses the numerous programs that are set to expire or need to be addressed by September 30. The longer it takes for a package to emerge the more concerned stakeholders should be about what is in or is not in the package.
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