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January 12, 2024

Washington Roundup

  • Senator Chuck Grassley (R Iowa) announced,
    • Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) introduced bipartisan legislation to codify rules directing hospitals and insurers to disclose cash prices and negotiated rates to patients before they receive medical care. The Health Care PRICE Transparency Act 2.0 stems from policies implemented via executive order in 2019, and builds on a bill and related effort Grassley pushed last Congress. 
    • “Patients should be able to compare and shop for healthcare services. However, the pricing information they need when visiting the hospital or working with insurance companies isn’t always available. By strengthening transparency and accountability requirements, our bill would help lower costs for patients through more competition and added sunlight in the healthcare industry,” Grassley said. 
    • “It’s wrong that the same procedure can be 20 times more expensive in one hospital than in another, and there’s no other industry where consumers are in the dark on the price of what they’re buying. Knowing what healthcare services cost will lower healthcare prices because Americans can shop around and get the best deal rather than relying on insurers to negotiate with providers which drives the price up for everything. The Health Care PRICE Transparency Act 2.0 will pull the curtain back and put the power back in the hands of the American people, introducing real market competition into the health care industry and bringing down prices,” Braun said.
    • “Grassley and Braun are joined by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.). 
  • Chief Investment Officer tells us,
    • “President Joe Biden re-nominated Julie Su for Secretary of Labor on Monday. Su has been acting secretary of Labor since March 2023.
    • “Su’s nomination passed through the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in April by an 11 to 10 vote. Her nomination then stalled in the Senate, and a full vote was never held. Presidential nominations must be renewed at the start of a new year.”
  • The Society for Human Resource Management adds,
    • “The new independent contractor rule from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) could spark an increase in misclassification lawsuits and make businesses less likely to hire gig workers, according to some legal experts.
    • “The final rule restores an earlier standard that required companies to weigh a variety of economic factors together to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. It will take effect on March 11.”
  • The Department of Health and Human Services announced,
    • “Under the Biden-Harris Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced today that over 20 million people have selected an Affordable Care Act (ACA) Health Insurance Marketplace plan since the 2024 Marketplace Open Enrollment Period launched on November 1 — a record number of enrollments.
    • “Today’s data represents activity through December 23 (Week 8) for the 32 states using and for the 18 states and the District of Columbia with State-based Marketplaces. Total plan selections include more than 3.7 million people (18% of total) who are new to the Marketplaces for 2024, and 16.6 million people (82% of total) who had active 2023 coverage and selected a plan for 2024 coverage or were automatically re-enrolled.  Plan selections so far represent an impressive increase of over 8 million more people who have coverage since President Biden took office.
    • “The 2024 Marketplace Open Enrollment Period runs from November 1, 2023, to January 16, 2024, for states using the platform. Consumers who enroll by midnight on January 16 can get coverage that starts February 1, 2024. State-based Marketplace enrollment deadlines vary. State-specific deadlines and other information are available in the State-based Marketplace Open Enrollment Fact Sheet – PDF.”
  • The Hill reports,
    • “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and a group of Senate Democrats on Monday announced an investigation into the high costs of asthma inhalers.
    • “Sanders, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent letters to the CEOs of the four biggest manufacturers of inhalers sold in the United States — AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim (BI), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Teva — demanding information and documents on internal strategic communications, patient assistance programs and the costs involved in the manufacturing of inhalers.”
  • American Hospital Association News reports,
    • “The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights Jan. 9 released a final rule that partially rescinds a sweeping 2019 rule that was held unlawful by three federal district courts. The new rule restores the longstanding process for enforcing federal conscience laws, and strengthens protections against conscience and religious discrimination. 
    • “The AHA last year submitted comments supporting the Administration’s approach, adding that conscience protections for health care professionals “are longstanding and deeply rooted in our health care delivery system.”
  • The Washington Post reports,
    • “The Supreme Court said [last] Friday it will review a case (No. 23-727) challenging Idaho’s strict abortion ban, which the Biden administration says conflicts with a federal law [EMTALA] requiring emergency room doctors to perform the procedure in some circumstances.”
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