For further information contact:
Governmental Affairs Department
Republicans Plan House Vote on ACA Replacement Bill, “The American Health Care Act”
House Republicans unveiled their official Affordable Care Act replacement plan called the American Health Care Act earlier this month. Some of its notable provisions:
- Removing burdensome taxes (such as the Medical Device Tax).
- Eliminating the individual and employer mandates.
- Preventing insurers from denying coverage or charging more to those with pre-existing conditions.
Other provisions include allowing dependents to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, transitioning Medicaid to a per capita allotment system, enhancing and expanding FSAs and HSAs, and establishing a stability system to provide states with money to fund programs that aid low-income individuals and the unique needs of respective patient populations.
While Democrats are nearly unanimous in their opposition, the bill also has divided Republican members for different reasons. Specifically, more conservative Republican legislators – including the House Freedom Caucus members – criticize the bill’s cost and the continuation of a tax credit, which they view as a costly subsidy. Other Republicans are concerned about the number of constituents who could potentially lose insurance under the plan. In recent days, House GOP leaders have made various tweaks to the bill in an effort to secure enough support for a planned vote by the full House this week.
House Passes Antitrust Reform
On March 21, the House passed AAOMS-supported legislation, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, H.R. 372. The legislation would amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act to repeal the current exemption from federal antitrust laws enjoyed by health insurers. The bill only applies to health and dental insurance. It exempts other types of insurance, specifically property and casualty insurers. The bill now goes to the Senate. Please ask your Senators to take up the House-passed bill.
Can’t Attend AAOMS Day on the Hill? You Can Still Advocate!
More than 100 of your colleagues will head to Capitol Hill this week to advocate on the following issues that impact OMS practices and patients:
- Antitrust reform
- Medical malpractice reform
- Expanding the use of FSAs and HSAs
- Student debt repayment reform
You can support their efforts from your home or office via our Virtual Day on the Hill program. The easiest way to help is by using AAOMS’s grassroots software system to send letters to your constituent members of Congress on these issues. The Virtual Day on the Hill program also provides resources for members interested in calling their constituent members of Congress, hosting a local meeting with them or using social media to share thoughts with them.
Senate Confirms Verma as CMS Administrator
The Senate confirmed Seema Verma, President Donald Trump’s nominee for CMS Administrator, by a 55-43 vote that went largely along party lines. Verma is known for significantly reforming the Indiana Medicaid program. She will oversee the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which could be drastically overhauled as a result of Republican efforts to repeal and replace the ACA.
Trump Nominates Physician to lead the FDA
President Trump also recently announced plans to nominate physician Scott Gottlieb to head the FDA. Gottlieb worked in the FDA under President George W. Bush’s administration in deputy roles and has since been active in advising pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. He replaces Robert Califf, also a physician, who stepped down in January.
DHATs Allowed to Practice on Washington Tribal Lands
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) recently signed legislation to authorize dental health aide therapists (DHATs) to practice on tribal lands. Since early 2016, the Swinomish Tribe has had a DHAT practicing on its lands, but because the state had not authorized the practice, the tribe could not receive Medicaid or Indian Health Services funding or reimbursement. This new authorization will allow such financial assistance to be obtained. The Washington State Dental Association (WSDA) did not oppose this bill. A separate bill to authorize the practice of dental therapy on a statewide basis continues to work its way through the legislature. The WSDA is actively opposing this legislation, and we continue to monitor it.
New Jersey Limits Prescriptions for Acute Pain
New Jersey became the latest state to enact restrictions on the number of days for which an opioid prescription could be issued for acute pain. In mid-February, Gov. Chris Christie (R) signed legislation that requires any prescription for acute pain to be issued at the lowest effective dose of immediate-release opioids and not to exceed a five-day supply. The law further requires practitioners to:
- Take and document the results of a thorough medical history, including the patient’s experience with non-opioid medication and non-pharmacological pain management approaches and his or her substance abuse history.
- Conduct, as appropriate, and document the results of a physical examination.
- Develop a treatment plan, with particular attention on determining the cause of the patient’s pain.
- Access relevant prescription-monitoring information under the Prescription Monitoring Program.
The bill takes effect in mid-May. For more information, contact the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry.
Health Information Technology
2018 EHR Meaningful Use Hardship Application Deadline: July 1
Medicare providers who did not meet the requirements of the Meaningful Use program in 2016 must submit a hardship application by July 1 to avoid a 3 percent payment adjustment on their 2018 professional fees. Providers are eligible for a hardship exception due to reasons specified in the application. Only one application needs to be submitted per practice. For more information, visit the CMS website or contact CMS at 888-734-6433, option 1.