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This October 3rd marked the 10-year anniversary of the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). Now, 10 years later, the question is whether the law has changed the playing field to ensure greater access to care and more equitable financial parameters. Although the passage of this legislation created a pathway for change, there are still challenges to address. Hopefully our path forward will continue address these issues of implementation, so we approach the day when those living with mental health and substance use disorders will be seen as having a condition or disease that deserves prevention strategies, supports and treatment services, and civil rights protections similar to all other medical conditions.
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While the House is out on recess, the Senate continues to be in session. This week the Senate has some non-health care related hearings scheduled as well as nomination hearings. We are looking for signals for a deal to finish work and send vulnerable Senators home to campaign. However, while legislative action may begin to cool down, regulatory activity at OIRA could be heating up.
This week, the House is looking at advancing several health care tax proposals, including permanent repeal of the medical device tax. They will also consider a proposal to delay the health insurance tax by two years.
Congress is in session this week with six important health care hearings, including hearings on Medicare fraud, mental health, and Stark reform. Meanwhile, the Administration continues to put forth new proposed rules and guidance that will impact many stakeholders between now and the end of the year.
This week, Congress returns from recess to another four-week work period. The dynamics of the next four weeks might be in flux now that President Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On June 20, Massachusetts lawmakers approved legislation aimed at preventing several high profile ballot questions from appearing before voters in November.
This week, focus turns to the Senate as the House overwhelmingly passed its opioid package known as H.R. 6 last week (see our previous coverage here). The Senate will look to combine its various proposals into one package for floor consideration and what passes will provide a timeline for reconciling the House and Senate packages.
On Tuesday, June 19, 2018, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed comprehensive health care legislation by a vote of 117-32.

Opioids Have Our Attention

June 21, 2018| Blog

The government is focusing on opioids.  Whether it be program policies, enforcement, or legislation, combating the opioid epidemic continues to be a major focus for government officials.  It is also a major piece of the health care legislation moving in both the House and the Senate.
On June 19,  the Health Policy Consensus Group, which is a group led by former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and composed of several conservative think tanks, released a white paper proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
It has been a few weeks since the publication of the Trump Administration’s Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices, and Secretary Azar’s  Request for Information (RFI) on the Blueprint.  We previously posted about the Blueprint’s focus on the 340B Drug Discount Program.
Welcome to the third week of this four week stretch. This week, the House will continue to vote on a number of proposals to address the opioid crisis.
This week the Senate Finance Committee will mark up its opioid package. Additionally, the HELP Committee will hear from Secretary Azar on the Administration's effort to lower prescription drug prices. For our complete review and what else to watch for this week.
To date, 34 states (including D.C.) have adopted Medicaid expansion. Of the remaining 17 states, some are considering expanding Medicaid.
Congress is back in session for a four week work period. With the focus on opioids, there's the potential that meaningful legislation gets done. We will also continue monitoring state action as it relates to work requirements and other initiatives via 1115 waivers.
In a previous blog, we reviewed pending and approved 1115 waivers in 11 states. These reviews provide an overview of 1115 waiver applications, including a focus on work requirements, lock-outs, changes in coverage structures, repealing the Medicaid IMD exclusion, and other behavioral health initiatives.  
This week, the House is set to vote on Right to Try legislation which has gained the support of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. In the Senate, the HELP Committee will review the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act, or PAHPA, along with rural health care issues, which the Senate Finance Committee also happens to be looking at this week.
This week, the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold its second round markup of opioid-related legislation. While they remain on pace for passage by Memorial Day, the timing will be determined by how smooth the markup this week goes.
On Friday, after weeks of delay, the President finally delivered his Drug Pricing Speech and released the HHS Blueprint detailing the Trump Administration's plan to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs.
On Tuesday, May 8th, the House held three hearings related to combating the opioid epidemic. The first hearing came out of the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which examined opioid distribution and diversion by the pharmaceutical industry.
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