The House of Representatives spent much of last week processing legislation intended to address opioid issues, including: the “Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act” (H.R. 5327); the “Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act” (H.R. 5041); the “Assisting States’ Implementation of Plans of Safe Care Act” (H.R. 5890); the “Improving the Federal Response to Families Impacted by Substance Use Disorder Act” (H.R. 5891); the “Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act” (H.R. 5788); and the “Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act” (H.R. 2851).

The Senate last week debated the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019” (H.R. 5515).

The House floor schedule for this week continues the chamber’s work on opioid legislation. Later in the week the House will debate three major bills targeting the opioid abuse epidemic: the “Individuals in Medicaid Deserve Care that is Appropriate and Responsible in its Execution Act” (H.R. 5797); the “Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act” (H.R. 6082); and the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act” (H.R. 6). The House will also vote on a series of bills under the expedited “Suspension of the Rules” process, including: the “Expanding Oversight of Opioid Prescribing and Payment Act of 2018” (H.R. 5723); the “Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management, Treatment, and Recovery Act of 2018” (H.R. 6110); a bill to “amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to post approval study requirements for certain controlled substances…” (H.R. 5811); and the “Opioid Addiction Action Plan Act” (H.R. 5590).

On Monday, the Senate reconvened and resumed debate on the defense authorization bill.

The “Supporting Research and Development for First Responders Act”

On Tuesday, the House is scheduled to vote on the “Supporting Research and Development for First Responders Act” (H.R. 4991). Congressman Dan Donovan (R-NY) introduced the bill on February 8, 2018, and the House Homeland Security Committee approved it on June 6, 2018. The legislation will establish the “National Urban Security Technology Laboratory” in the Department of Homeland Security. H.R. 4991 specifies that the “laboratory shall be used to test and evaluate emerging technologies and conduct research and development to assist emergency response providers in preparing for, and protecting against, threats of terrorism.” The laboratory is required to:

  • “conduct tests, evaluations, and assessments of current and emerging technologies, including, as appropriate, cybersecurity of such technologies that can connect to the internet, for emergency response providers”;
  • “conduct research and development on radiological and nuclear response and recovery”;
  • “act as a technical advisor to emergency response providers”; and
  • conduct other activities as directed by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

This Week’s Congressional Hearings ad Policy Events

This week’s Washington events and hearings include:

  • On Tuesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center will hold an event titled “Counting the Costs: Introduction to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) Updated Health Insurance Model.” The event will include “a presentation by staff of the…CBO…on their updated health care coverage model.” The “CBO staff will walk through proposed refinements that they are in the process of making to update and improve their tools for estimating the effects and scoring the costs of legislation that affects publicly- and privately-funded health insurance”.
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Medicaid Fraud and Overpayments: Problems and Solutions.”
  • On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Examination of the GAO Audit Series of HHS Cybersecurity.”

Member Reminder

AAMS opposes the “Air Ambulance Consumer Protection Act” (S. 2812), which was introduced on May 10, 2018. AAMS also opposes Section 412 of the House-passed “FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018” (H.R. 4). AAMS encourages members to contact their Senators and Members of Congress to ask them to oppose these proposals.

Both S. 2812 and Section 412 of H.R. 4 would exempt air medical services from the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), allowing states to establish a patchwork of regulatory barriers to transporting patients from the scene of a life-threatening illness or accident to the closest appropriate care facility. It is critical to ensure that interstate air medical flights remain unencumbered by regulatory barriers as over 30% of all air ambulance transports cross state lines. Allowing conflicting state regulations could ultimately result in air medical base closures in the rural areas where they are needed the most. Congress must preserve the current framework of the ADA, which allows air medical providers to deliver life-saving services and make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the patient, rather than on arbitrary state, county, or municipal boundaries.

AAMS fully supports the “Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act” (H.R. 3378 and S. 2121) to address the shortfall in Medicare reimbursements for air medical services. AAMS encourages members to contact their Senators and Members of Congress to ask them to cosponsor the legislation.

The bills would reform the Medicare fee schedule for air ambulance services, starting with a cost reporting and analysis program conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), followed by: rebasing of air medical reimbursements in 2021; and implementation of a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program beginning in 2024. The bill would enhance transparency by establishing cost and quality reporting requirements, as well as solve for a growing gap between Medicare payments and costs.

Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced H.R. 3378.

The following Members of Congress have cosponsored the bill since its introduction, bringing the total number of cosponsors to 43:

  • Tom Cole (R-OK);
  • Jason Smith (R-MO);
  • Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO);
  • David Loebsack (D-IA);
  • Mike Kelly (R-PA);
  • Kenny Marchant (R-TX);
  • Terri Sewell (D-AL);
  • Ed Perlmutter (D-CO);
  • Julia Brownley (D-CA);
  • Jacky Rosen (D-NV);
  • Ami Bera (D-CA);
  • Scott Tipton (R-CO);
  • Mike Coffman (R-CO);
  • Luke Messer (R-IN);
  • Filemon Vela (D-TX);
  • Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ);
  • Anna Eshoo (D-CA);
  • Martha McSally (R-AZ);
  • Jared Polis (D-CO);
  • Roger Williams (R-TX);
  • Doug LaMalfa (R-CA);
  • David Young (R-IA);
  • Tom Marino (R-PA);
  • Rodney Davis (R-IL);
  • Tom Reed (R-NY);
  • Elise Stefanik (R-NY);
  • Mark Takano (D-CA);
  • Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX);
  • Dina Titus (D-NV);
  • Diane Black (R-TN);
  • Jim Banks (R-IN);
  • Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ);
  • John Faso (R-NY);
  • Pete Aguilar (D-CA);
  • Steven Palazzo (R-MS);
  • John Garamendi (D-CA);
  • Sam Graves (R-MO);
  • Steve King (R-IA); and
  • Ralph Abraham (R-LA).

Senators Dean Heller (R-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Cory Gardner (R-CO), introduced the Senate version of the bill. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tim Scott (R-SC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Todd Young (R-IN) are also cosponsors.

Additional information on these issues, as well as on how to contact your Member of Congress and Senators: