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Energy & Commerce GOP Seeks Advice On Hospital Site-Neutral Policy

House Energy & Commerce Committee Republicans on Friday (Feb. 5) asked for advice on how to change a recently enacted law that cuts pay to future off-campus hospital facilities.

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Americans who were denied 2016 coverage through Healthcare.gov because they did not reconcile their advanced premium tax credits from 2014 can now sign up for a federal marketplace plan through a new special enrollment period, CMS announced Friday (Feb. 5).

The World Health Organization says there is a way to combine its newly unveiled biosimilar naming approach, which relies on biological qualifiers, with the divergent approach pushed by FDA: If a company is first provided an FDA suffix for their biological product, that code could be added to the Biological Qualifier database and then applied when a qualifier is requested for the same drug substance.

A National Rural Health Association-backed report found that more than 650 rural hospitals are at risk of closing, and both the association and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) are pushing bills with new hospital classification systems to reverse the trend of rural hospital closures.

HHS on Thursday (Feb. 4) declared victory in the third open enrollment period by announcing that around 12.7 million Americans signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges nationwide as of Feb. 1, while the department and outside stakeholders set their sights on making marketplace coverage more appealing and providing year-round consumer help.

Stakeholders working to fully repeal the 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans, known as the Cadillac tax, say they appreciate the administration's effort to alter the design of the tax, but continue to argue that the levy should instead be fully wiped from the books.

Several House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee members criticized CMS for setting up a biosimilar pay policy that treats the products as if they were interchangeable, but FDA and CMS officials said Thursday (Feb. 4) it is wrong to compare FDA approval criteria with Medicare payment policies.

FDA drug center chief Janet Woodcock said FDA is worried that the biosimilar program is going to “explode” and the agency won't have the resources to keep up, speaking to lawmakers at a House Energy and Commerce health panel hearing Thursday (Feb. 4).

Amidst the drama surrounding former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli’s refusal to answer congressional inquiries on drug pricing, FDA also caught fire at a House oversight committee hearing Thursday (Feb. 4) where Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said the agency has failed its statutory responsibilities to eliminate the generic drug backlog and ensure competition for companies that hike the price of prescription drugs.