Week of May 4, 2015
Leaders of the Senate and House Budget Committees announced an agreement on a final budget resolution (see below) last week that takes aim once again at the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The budget resolution does not need to be signed by the President and does not become law. But the resolution plays a significant role in establishing a framework for the federal government's overall spending priorities.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released new data detailing $103 billion Medicare Part D prescription drug costs in 2013. The release came as part of the administration's efforts to make the health care system more transparent. The data show the names, locations and specialties of physicians and health care organizations who submitted claims to Medicare in 2013, as well as the names, costs and number of prescriptions for each individual drug. CMS has previously released similar info for inpatient hospital charges, outpatient charges and payments to physicians.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a new bipartisan draft bill last week that would make major changes in the regulation of drugs and medical devices. The legislation is the product of the committee's 21st Century Cures Initiative, which launched last year. The initiative's goal is to accelerate the development of new medical innovations and their speed to market. The bill includes additional funding for the National Institutes of Health. A full vote on the bill could take place as early as June.
Last week, the House of Representatives voted 226-197 to pass a budget deal that would balance the budget in 10 years through more than $495 billion in domestic spending cuts. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure this week. Afterward, two Senate committees and three House committees will begin to develop their final recommendations for a budget reconciliation bill, including potential ACA repeal legislation. The President has threatened a veto of any budget agreement that would increase defense spending without additional domestic spending. The deadline for the committees to finalize their recommendations is July 24.
From Aetna health reform weekly