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October 27, 2023

Washington Roundup

  • STAT News tells us,
    • “A Senate health panel on Wednesday voted to send President Biden’s nominee to lead the National Institutes of Health to the chamber’s floor, moving Monica Bertagnolli one step closer to taking the longtime vacant role of permanent director.
    • “The Senate HELP Committee advanced her nomination on a 15-6 vote, with many Republicans voting in support and only Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) breaking with the Democratic caucus to vote against her. * * *
    • “Her nomination will now move to the Senate floor for a full vote, though it is unclear when that will be scheduled.”October 17 was the last day for submitting public comment on proposed changes to the mental parity rule, AHIP’s public comments on the proposed rule, asked the regulators to try again. Per Fierce Healthcare,
  • “The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) echoed AHIP in its comments, arguing that additional clarity around the changes is necessary. The organization said it could lead patients to care that is not recommended, worsening outcomes.
  • “We share the administration’s goal of expanding access to affordable mental health support, but we’re concerned it could become harder—not easier—for patients to get the care they need,” said David Merritt, BCBSA’s senior vice president of policy and advocacy, in a statement.
  • “This rule could push us in the wrong direction by forcing health plans to remove important protections that ensure patients are receiving safe, medically necessary, effective care,” Merritt added. “We’ll continue to work with our partners, the administration and Congress to improve both access and quality for Americans.”
  • “The Alliance for Community Health Plans said the updates create “an entirely new regulatory schema” that would actually impede insurers looking to address mental health parity.
  • “The ERISA Industry Committee, or ERIC, said many of the proposals “reflect an overreach of agency authority under the statute” and that they would be burdensome for employer-sponsored health plans. The changes, ERIC said, could drive up costs for families and force significant changes to benefit designs.
  • “Unfortunately, the proposed regulations are so unworkable, it is unclear how compliance could ever be achieved while continuing to offer these important benefits,” said James Gelfand, CEO of ERIC, in a statement. “The Departments’ proposals are written in a way that sets plans up to fail.”
  • STAT News further tells us,
    • “Infertility has a new definition in the U.S. — one that could make a big difference to would-be parents who are single or LGBTQ+.
    • “Last week, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) issued an expanded description of the condition, stating that infertility involves “the need for medical intervention, including, but not limited to, the use of donor gametes or donor embryos in order to achieve a successful pregnancy either as an individual or with a partner.”
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