The $1.3 trillion omnibus package passed on March 23 and did not include ACA market stabilization measures, which supporters argue will lead to higher premiums and fewer health plans. Read more about the 2018 omnibus spending bill in Baker Tilly’s monthly wrap-up.
HHS Secretary Azar recently announced Daniel Best will be the Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Drug Pricing Reform and Brett Giroir, M.D. will serve as Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Mental Health and Opioid Policy. Best is an expert on both the pharmaceutical landscape and the Medicare Part D program; he will lead the initiative to lower prescription drug prices. Dr. Giroir is a four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and is the former Director of the Defense Science Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); he will coordinate the agency’s effort across the administration to combat the opioid crisis.
In its fiscal 2019 budget justification, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) signaled it may consider changes to 340B patient and hospital-eligibility criteria. HRSA noted the Government Accountability Office recommended the agency clarify the definition of 340B patient and hospital eligibility.
The Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (P-TAC), established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, provides comments and recommendations to the Secretary of HHS on physician payment models. P-TAC recently voted on five alternative pay models at a meeting in late March, and CMS is currently reviewing another alternative pay model that P-TAC recommended. CMS is slightly delayed on uptake of P-TAC’s recommendations due to agency transition, but CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the agency is moving forward swiftly on the first P-TAC alternative pay model recommendation.
President Trump removed Secretary Shulkin from his role as the leader of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and announced his intent to name Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson to lead the agency. If confirmed, Jackson will take over the agency with a 360,000-person work force.
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