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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Pelosi Negotiation Bill Could Use Savings To Expand Medicare Benefits

A summary of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) long-awaited government drug price negotiation bill says that savings from the plan, unveiled Thursday (Sept. 19), could be used to add hearing, vision and dental benefits to Medicare.

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Several high-profile health experts were upset by CMS Administrator Seema Verma’s recent blog in which she denied the increase in uninsured Americans was due to a decline in Medicaid enrollees and instead blamed it on the Affordable Care Act, including Families USA Eliot Fishman who told Inside Health Policy he has been frustrated by the GOP’s narrow focus on the unsubsidized population even as affordability remains a challenge for lower-income people.

President Donald Trump on Thursday (Sept. 19) issued an executive order to establish a National Influenza Task Force, co-chaired by the heads of HHS and the Department of Defense and comprising senior officials from several federal agencies, including FDA and CMS.

A Senate Finance Committee task force charged with looking at six expiring health taxes, including the Affordable Care Act’s taxes on medical devices and health insurers, failed to reach a consensus on next steps in a newly issued report.

Home health providers, Medicare advocates and hospitals again expressed concerns that CMS’ proposed 8% cut within the home health system based on behavioral assumptions is too harsh in its proposed 2020 home health pay rule.

Senate appropriators call on FDA to take additional steps to address vaping-related illnesses in the fiscal 2020 FDA funding bill and accompanying report they marked up Thursday (Sept.19).

The House on Thursday (Sept. 19) passed a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government through Nov. 21 and avert a government shutdown Oct. 1, and the Senate reportedly will take up the CR next week.

FDA’s law enforcement arm, the Office of Criminal Investigations, is investigating the outbreak of lung illnesses that have been associated with vaping products, the agency’s tobacco center director Mitch Zeller said Thursday (Sept. 19).

Providers are asking CMS why the first bonus payments for those in alternative payments models through the Quality Payment Program have yet to be paid, even though providers in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System started seeing their pay adjustments at the start of the year.

Fifty-nine percent of Medicaid beneficiaries under the age of 21 received a well-child screening in fiscal 2017 -- a decrease of five percentage points from fiscal 2010 and well short of CMS’ target ratio of 80%, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

An FDA advisory committee on Wednesday (Sept. 18) supported the over-the-counter use of a proposed nicotine oral spray for smoking cessation by a vote of nine to six, but many of the committee members raised concerns about potential youth abuse of the product and said the labeling may not be adequate for OTC use.