Nancy Pelosi is negotiating with the White House on far-reaching drug-pricing legislation and Medicare reforms, and Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is pushing for a floor vote on a bill detested by the drug industry. Now is the time to try Inside Health Policy.

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Revamped Finance Bill Further Lowers Seniors’ Part D Costs

Senate Finance Committee leaders released an updated drug pricing bill on Friday (Dec. 5) less than 24 hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the lower chamber will vote on her more-aggressive drug pricing bill next week.

Senate Finance Rx Pricing Bill Reinvests In Medicare, Medicaid Extenders

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The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission discussed possible 2021 pay recommendations on Thursday and Friday (Dec. 5 and 6) for a number of industries, including reducing the hospice pay cap and tying some hospital pay to the Hospital Value Incentive Program, though the commissioners plan to have a further discussion in January on what to pay hospitals.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed a cloture motion on Stephen Hahn’s nomination for FDA commissioner on Thursday (Dec. 5), and a floor vote is expected early next week.

Advocates pushing to block the Trump administration’s controversial Title X rule say a recent report revealing senior HHS officials helped an anti-abortion health clinic secure a family planning program grant, prior to implementation of the controversial rule banning providers offering abortions or abortion referrals from the funding, shows the administration’s extensive efforts to remold the Title X program in line with its anti-abortion stance.

FDA on Thursday (Dec. 5) launched CURE ID, an internet-based application that will allow members of the clinical community to share their experiences in treating infectious diseases with novel uses of existing FDA-approved drugs.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that House Democrats’ drug pricing bill would save half a trillion dollars in a decade, according to House Democratic leaders, and Democrats plan to use those savings to pay for additional drug research at the National Institutes of Health, additional Medicare benefits and a hodgepodge of Medicare and Medicaid policies that would lower costs for beneficiaries of those programs.

Spending on health care grew at a faster rate in 2018 than in 2017 primarily due to a 13.2 percent increase in the net cost of health insurance, which was driven by the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance tax that was reinstated in 2018 after a one-year moratorium, according to the CMS actuary’s office.

Retail prescription drug prices declined overall by 1% in 2018 but overall spending on retail prescription drugs increased by 2.5%, according to CMS’s National Health Expenditures survey, released on Thursday (Dec. 5).

Insurers are requesting more time to comment on the Trump administration’s recently proposed price transparency rule that they say goes beyond the scope of the executive order that prompted the measure and poses myriad questions that they need more time to address.

The House will vote next week on legislation to let Medicare negotiate drug prices and make those prices available to people with private insurance.

Biopharmaceutical venture fund and managed care organization experts believe FDA should stay out of the medical product pricing and value arenas and instead let the marketplace determine value.