10.1.18 – 10.5.18 Health Wrap Up


Please find below a summary of the latest major health policy developments in Washington this week. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Scheduling note: the House is on recess until after the November elections.


As previously reported, President Trump signed into law the full year FY19 Defense and Labor HHS appropriations measures on September 28. The package also included a continuing resolution through December 7 for agencies covered by the Agriculture, Transportation-HUD, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, Homeland Security, State-Foreign Operations, and Commerce-Justice-Science bills. With enactment of the Defense and Labor HHS bills, work has been completed on five of the 12 annual spending bills. Since the House has already departed until after the November 6 midterm elections, negotiations on a third minibus containing the Agriculture, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, and Transportation-HUD bills have been delayed until the lame-duck session. The Commerce-Justice-Science, Homeland Security, and State-Foreign Operations measures haven’t yet been taken up by either chamber, but are also expected to be considered after the election.


Opioid Legislation

On Wednesday, the Senate easily passed the final bipartisan and bicameral legislative agreement, HR 6, to address the opioid misuse and overdose epidemic by a vote of 98 – 1.  Sen. Lee (R-UT) was the only Senator to vote in the negative.

The legislation now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.  In a statement, the White House applauded House and Senate leaders for reaching the agreement and said the President will sign the bill into law.

Summary materials and bill text are available here.


This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made two announcements as part of the agency's efforts to modernize its oversight and improve public transparency.  On Thursday it announced it would "strengthen Medicare's accreditation organizations" by "increasing transparency for patients on the organizations' performance." Accrediting organizations under Medicare review health facilities and suppliers to ensure compliance with CMS rules.  Without compliance, those facilities or suppliers may not receive CMS payments.  This week's announcement will:

  • Make public accreditation organization performance data so patients can compare to independent reviews
  • Redesign the AO validation surveys
  • Require CMS to submit an annual report to Congress on AO performance


Similarly, on Wednesday CMS announced major changes to the Medicare Administrative Contract process.  MACs currently assess compliance with Medicare services and local coverage determinations to reflect variations in the costs of medical services and technology based upon the geography. Under the new system, CMS now will:

  • Require a consistent, standardized summary of the clinical evidence supporting LCD decisions
  • Include a beneficiary representative and other healthcare professionals in addition to physicians (e.g. nurses, social workers) on Contactor Advisory Committees that inform LCDs
  • Ensure that Contractor Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public
Katie Weyforth Vanlandingham

Van Scoyoc Associates

800 Maine Ave SW

Suite 800

Washington, DC  20024