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.


Senators Announce Creation of Bipartisan ALS Caucus

Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) have announced the launch of a new caucus dedicated to fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The caucus aims to pass S. 578, the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act of 2019, which would speed access to disability benefits for ALS patients. The bipartisan bill is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Finance Committee.

Senate Finance Advances USMCA

The Senate Finance Committee advanced the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA) by a vote of 25-3 last week. Several other Senate committees are scheduled to consider the agreement on Tuesday and Wednesday. It is unclear when a full Senate vote on the updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) trade agreement will occur. The deal passed the House last month following several changes negotiated between the White House and House Democrats, including the removal of a provision that would have guaranteed 10 years of data protection for biologic drugs.

Phil Roe, MD Will Not Run for Reelection

Rep. Phil Roe, MD (R-Tenn.) has announced plans to retire at the end of the year. Roe was first elected to Congress in 2008 following a 31-year career as an OB/GYN in Johnson City, TN. He serves as co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus and has been a leader in patient-centered health policy. He is the lead republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee and served as committee chairman during the 115th Congress. He’s also a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee which has health jurisdiction and oversight authority of self-insured health insurance (ERISA) plans. Roe’s 1st congressional district of Tennessee is expected to remain one of the most Republican-leaning districts in the nation.

MACPAC Releases Report on IMD Exclusion

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) has released its mandated report to Congress on the oversight of institutions for mental diseases (IMDs), finding that states can and do pay for mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services in such facilities. A policy known as the IMD exclusion prohibits the federal government from paying for inpatient psychiatric services and has been raised as a potential barrier to access for residential and inpatient behavioral health services for Medicaid beneficiaries. MACPAC’s report, however, finds that states are using multiple legal authorities to pay for such treatment with Medicaid funds. The Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act required MACPAC to identify and describe IMDs in selected states and summarize state licensure, certification, or accreditation requirements and Medicaid’s clinical and quality standards for IMDs.

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