In This Issue...

Senator Pryor Introduces Legislation to Protect FDA User Fees

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AK) introduced S.1413, the FDA User Fee Protection Act, which would exempt FDA user fees from future sequestration cuts.  Earlier this year, the FDA budget was cut $210 million or five percent of its $4.1 billion budget due to the legislative branch’s inability to pass a deficit reduction package.  Roughly $85 million of those cuts were from user fees paid by pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers.  The fees were to be used to expedite the agency review process.  That objective is unlikely to happen now. Similar legislation, H.R. 2725, the Food and Drug Administration Safety Over Sequestration Act of 2013, was introduced by Representative Leonard Lance, in the House of Representatives.  Please go to the congressional website, THOMAS, to view the measures.

Reps. Brady and McDermott introduce Medicare Anti-Fraud Bill

Representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Jim McDermott (D-WA) recently introduced H.R.2925, the Strengthening Medicare Anti-fraud Measures Act of 2013, which would give the Department of Health and Human Services authority to exclude individuals from the Medicare program if they are affiliated with a person or entity that has been sanctioned for fraud.   Specifically, the measure would ban executives whose companies have been convicted of fraud from circumventing the system by moving to another company.  A copy of their press release is on the House Ways and Means website.  Please go to the congressional website, THOMAS, to view the bill.

Another Key Element of HCR Delayed

The Administration is delaying a key provision in the 2010 health care reform law that limits consumer out-of-pocket health expenses until January 1, 2015.  This change was just recently discovered in a February 2013 Frequently Asked Questions document put out by HHS.  Last month the Department announced another major delay -- the requirement that large employers offer health care coverage to full time employees was postponed until January 1, 2015 as well.   A November 2011 Congressional Research Service report found that the Administration has missed more than one-third of the congressional deadlines mandated by the heath law.  Other potential delays could involve the opening of the state insurance exchanges and the expansion of the Medicaid program since many states have declined to participate in either program.  To view the listing of earlier missed deadlines, please go to Senator Tom Coburn’s website.

Hospital Exchange of EHR Data Increasing

A recent study in Health Affairs indicates that more than half of hospitals exchanged health care data with other providers in 2012.  The report, conducted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), indicated that “there were significant increases in the percent of hospitals exchanging radiology reports, laboratory results, clinical care summaries, and medication lists with hospitals and providers outside their organization.”  An abstract of the study is available on the Health Affairs website.