This Week’s Diagnosis: Hearings, hearings and more hearings. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is stepping down. Budget talks heat up.
Hearings Galore. Both chambers were busy with health care hearings ranging in issues from vaccines to prescription drug pricing. Here is a rundown of the highlights and links to detailed summaries.
HIPAA and Privacy. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on aligning health information privacy regulations. The bipartisan letter, signed by 13 Senators, urges HHS to begin rulemaking on updating 42 CFR Part 2, which regulates how substance abuse records are shared. In the 115th Congress, a bill passed the House that would align these regulations with how personal health information is regulated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It died in the Senate. The Administration has indicated its intent to release a request for information on 42 CFR Part 2.
Azar Teases Kidney Model. HHS Secretary Alex Azar outlined a value-based plan for transforming kidney care, with an emphasis on in-home treatment and transplants. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has hinted at numerous models intended to transform the Medicare payment system from volume-based to value-based. Track the newly released models with our CMMI summary chart.
RFI on Insurance Across State Lines. CMS released a request for information (RFI) on increasing flexibility for health insurers to sell individual plans across state lines. The agency specifically mentioned using Section 1333 of the ACA, which allows two or more states to form a “health care choice compact.” This effectively gives insurers a path forward to sell qualified health plans across state lines. No states, however, have pursued this approach. This is not the first time the Administration has expressed support for this flexibility. The President issued an executive order on selling insurance across state lines back in October 2017.
Gottlieb Announces Departure. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that he will be stepping down at the end of March. This came as a surprise to many. There is no clear successor.
Next Week’s Dose: On Monday, the Administration is expected to release its FY 2020 budget. While it used to be an important guide for Congress, its relevance has deteriorated significantly over the last several years. We will watch for overarching themes from HHS Secretary Azar. How many of his proposals are legislative and how many are regulatory?
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