House Advances Life-Saving EMS Bill
On Monday, January 9, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act (H.R. 304) with overwhelming support, 404-0. H.R. 304 was re-introduced by Reps. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).
The bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to enable paramedics and other emergency medical services (EMS) professionals to continue to administer controlled substances to patients pursuant to standing orders issued by their EMS agency’s medical director. In 2014, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) announced that they would be creating DEA regulations to simplify EMS administration of controlled substances. However, the DEA later announced that the CSA only allowed for patient-specific orders for controlled substances and that the regulations would very specifically state that protocol-driven usage of controlled substances is not allowed.
Accordingly, H.R. 304 would amend the CSA to clarify that EMS are able to administer certain controlled substances, under standing orders issued by a EMS medical director physician. ACCT and our coalition partners worked diligently with our congressional champions to craft this legislation and gain support from additional Members of Congress.
Last year, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (LA) and Michael Bennet (CO) introduced similar legislation in the Senate. We anticipate re-introduction in the Senate shortly. With passage in the Senate, the legislation can be signed into law by the President.
ACA Strategy Continues to Evolve
Congressional Republicans are struggling to figure out how to best approach a “repeal and replace” strategy with regard to the ACA. Some are now talking about legislation to “repair” the ACA as an interim step. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) have both made recent statements indicating that some provisions of the ACA will be kept and modified if necessary.
Dr. Price Confirmed as HHS Secretary
Congressman Tom Price, M.D., was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services on Feb. 10th. His nomination had become controversial as a result of some questions regarding certain investment transactions he was involved in and how he explained them in his testimony.
House and Senate Committees Working to Stabilize Insurance Markets
Senate and House committees are now focusing on how to stabilize the individual markets created by the Affordable Care Act. Witnesses before two committees pressed repeatedly for certainty and transparency, as soon as possible because insurers must submit their 2018 rates for review by May. In a Finance Committee hearing witnesses blamed what they described as the ACA’s heavy-handed approach toward regulating what products can be sold and what benefits must be provided. A House committee reviewed several bills that would reform insurance plans, such as increasing the variation around the age rating for ACA plans and ensure protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. Click here to view the Finance Committee hearing and testimony, and here for the Energy & Commerce hearing.
New Details on ACO Track 1+ Model Announced
CMS has released a fact sheet containing critical implementation details for the new Track 1+ accountable care organization (ACO) Model. Track 1+ features less overall risk than Tracks 2 or 3 of the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), but unlike traditional Track 1, it will qualify as an advanced alternative payment model starting in 2018.