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Healthcare Today

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Casie Daugherty

May 18, 2018

The House Ways and Means Committee reported 7 bills in the continued legislative effort to address the opioid epidemic. While some of the Members expressed frustration that the committee was not doing enough to really tackle the crisis, all the measures were reported out on voice votes. Six of the measures sought to make improvements in the Medicare program to better handle the problem with solutions ranging from better coverage of opioid treatment programs, to requiring electronic prior authorizations for opioid subscriptions covered under Medicare Part D, to requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop guidance for pain management and opioid abuse prevention.

The Energy and Commerce Committee reported 33 additional opioid bills. Most of the bills were reported unanimously but two bills proved to be more contentious. There was some division on the committee over the bills to allow Medicaid reimbursement for inpatient drug treatment and the bill to ease the current restrictions on sharing substance abuse records among physicians and hospitals.

The House is expected to consider all the reported opioid bills in early June. It is not yet clear whether some of these bills will be packaged before consideration on the House floor.

The Trump administration was busy this week moving forward with the plans the President laid out last Friday to help lower prescription drug prices. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its drug pricing dashboard to include year-over-year pricing data on pharmaceuticals. CMS Administrator Seema Verma also issued a letter to all Part D plans stating that the administration finds any “gag orders” that some insurance plans and pharmacy benefit managers include in their contracts with pharmacies to be unacceptable.

HHS Secretary Azar announced during a speech on Monday morning that the agency will be issuing a request for proposals on a new pricing mechanism for drugs covered under Medicare Part B known as a Competitive Acquisition Program. Secretary Azar also revealed plans to review drugs they will seek to cover under Medicare Part D rather than Part B and eventually merging the two programs.

The House is also expected to consider next week the so-called “Right to Try” legislation that passed the Senate last year. The bill sponsored by Senator Johnson (R WI) allows patients to use medications not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The House had try to narrow the scope of the bill by passing a measure to allow for unapproved drugs to be used by terminal patients but that bill did not gain any traction in the Senate. The President strongly supports the Johnson bill including a shout out during his State of the Union address and during his press conference on drug pricing last week.

  • “Trump nominates Robert Wilkie as VA secretary” – CNN (May 18)
    “President Donald Trump announced Friday that he is nominating Robert Wilkie to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, three weeks after his previous nominee withdrew from the confirmation process amid controversy. Wilkie is currently the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness but has been serving as the VA’s acting secretary since the President fired VA Secretary David Shulkin in late March. But Trump said the announcement came as a surprise even to Wilkie.”
  • “Trump to target Planned Parenthood with new abortion curbs” – Politico (May 18)
    “The Trump administration is expected to announce as soon as Friday that it will dramatically change the federal family planning program to prohibit health care providers who accept the funds from making referrals for abortion — a step that could effectively cut off millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood. The changes to the Title X program, which are expected to be announced in new regulations, would mark the Trump administration’s latest win for social conservatives who are looking to prohibit access to abortion.”
  • “House votes to expand veterans’ access to private care” – CNN (May 17)
    “House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation expanding veterans’ access to private care at taxpayer expense, a campaign promise of President Donald Trump, and adding more money to the “Choice program” weeks before VA officials said it could run out of money. The $51 billion plan that passed 347-70 Wednesday includes $5.2 billion for the VA Choice program that funds private care. VA officials have warned that the program could run out of money as early as the end of the month, disrupting care for patients.”
  • “House to vote to send ‘right to try’ bill to Trump’s desk next week” – The Hill (May 17)
    “The House will vote next week on Senate-passed legislation aimed at making it easier for sick patients to access experimental drugs — a big priority for President Trump, Vice President Pence and groups backed by conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch. ‘This will not only offer a chance for the patient to possibly find treatment but could open possibilities to help others do the same,’ House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a statement. In August, the Senate passed Right to Try by unanimous consent. The bill, which Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) championed, lets sick patients request access to treatments the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t yet approved.”
  • “Stack of opioid bills advance out of key panel” – Washington Examiner (May 17)
    “The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday advanced 32 bills targeting the opioid crisis to the full House for a vote. The bills advanced after a marathon markup that lasted seven hours. Another package of 25 bills advanced out of committee earlier this month. ‘We have a unique opportunity to save lives, and we can’t lose sight of the real-world impact of our actions throughout this process,” said committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore. “We owe it to the families of the more than 115 Americans who die from opioids every single day to come together and advance legislation that can help stem this tide.’”


May 11, 2018

President Trump just delivered his much anticipated speech on drug prices. Joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the President talked about more negotiation, more competition and eliminating the middle men. Secretary Azar said there would be 50 actions HHS will take as part of their blueprint for lowering drug prices (for the full text of the blueprint click here).  One action Azar mentioned was having the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require pharmaceutical companies to include prices in their direct to consumer advertising.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee reported out 25 bipartisan opioid bills on Wednesday. Each bill cleared the committee on a voice vote. The committee plans to mark up more opioid bills next week as the Health Subcommittee had reported 63 bills during the last week in April. The expectation is these bills will be voted on in the House in early June.

Senator Alexander (R-TN) has stated that the Senate will wait for the House to act before calling up their opioid bill. While the Senate bill had broad bipartisan support in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the committee did not take up some of the more contentious issues such as assessing fees to the manufacturers of opioids. It is not yet clear whether the Senate will reach an agreement on limitations for debate and amendments on the Senate floor to pass a bill.

The largest distributors of prescription drugs faced a difficult hearing this week as well. Representatives from McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen faced some difficult questions and statements from Members on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The President sent to Capitol Hill the largest rescission package ever totaling $15.4 billion. Prime Policy Group published their analysis of the package on Tuesday which you can read here. There are a few notable rescissions in healthcare. The President proposed rescinded unspent monies from the Childrens’ Health Insurance Program (CHIP). What is interesting to note is that CHIP is a mandatory spending program. Rescission authority written into the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act was intended for Presidents to be able to rescind discretionary funding appropriated by the Congress.

However, our reading of the law suggests that the letter of the law is silent on whether the funds are mandatory of discretionary. Senators will likely appeal to the Senate Parliamentarian arguing that the mandatory spending rescissions are not privileged and she will be listening to Senators on both sides. Also of note the President proposed rescinding funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). While created by the Affordable Care Act, CMMI was exploring payment options supported by both parties.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an interim final rule on Wednesday providing some targeted additional payments for suppliers of durable medical equipment such as oxygen for a six-month period. The rule had been pending at the Office of Management and Budget since September of last year. Secretary Azar testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee was pressed about what the administration will do about reimbursement beyond the six months.

“Health care stocks whipsaw as Trump unveils plan to lower prescription drug prices” – CNBC (May 11)

“Health care stocks whipsawed on Friday as President Trump unveiled his long-awaited plan to lower prescription drug prices, dubbed “American Patients First.” The sector briefly turned negative before trading 1.6 percent higher. Shares of Express Scripts and CVS both hit session lows before rising 3.7 percent and 3.8 percent. Dow Jones industrial average components Merck and UnitedHealth also dipped before trading higher upon the announcement. The proposal seeks to boost competition, improve negotiation and create incentives to lower list prices of prescription drugs and lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers. It stopped short of allowing Medicare to directly work with manufacturers on prices.”

“Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda on drug pricing could backfire around the world” – Politico  (May 9)

“President Donald Trump wants Americans to get lower prices for medicines — and the rest of the world may pay for it. His “America First” message on drugs at home, coupled with pro-pharmaceutical industry policies abroad, could lead to higher costs for patients around the world — without making drugs more affordable for those in the U.S. Trump on Friday plans to deliver his long-promised speech on how to lower drug costs, addressing an industry he has in the past accused of “getting away with murder.” Global health officials worry he will also target practices that keep medicines affordable in other countries. Amid rising trade tensions between the U.S. and key trading partners, Trump and top administration officials have repeatedly blamed high U.S. prices in part on foreign countries that take advantage of the significant U.S. investment in medical research without paying their fair share. Many nations, including wealthy European ones, negotiate or regulate drug prices to keep them lower than what Americans typically pay.”

“President Trump’s rescission proposal would cut CMMI, CHIP” – Healthcare Finance (May 9)

“President Donald Trump is looking to cut $15.4 billion out of the $1.3 trillion federal spending bill approved in March, using a process called rescission. Rescission withdraws spending authority for funds appropriated but not spent. Appropriated funds to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, or CMMI, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program would be cut. The Department of Health and Human ServicesCHIP program is targeted to lose $7 billion and the proposal would rescind $800 million to the innovation center.”

May 4, 2018

The President is going to give his much anticipated speech on drug pricing on Tuesday.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb may have given an indication of where the President will go on Tuesday when he remarked at a speech this week that it may be worth examining the safe harbor drug rebates have under anti-kickback laws.  Drug makers have long pushed for having pharmacy benefit managers and insurance companies to pass along more of the negotiated rebates to consumers.

The three federal agencies declined to make significant changes in the rule for health insurance coverage of out-of-network emergency services.  The final rule states that the plan satisfies the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) copayment and coinsurance limitations if it pays the provider the greater of three amounts – 1. the same as the negotiated price for in-network providers; 2. the Medicare payment amount; or 3. the same amount as calculated for other out-of-network providers.  This “greatest of three” or “GOT” method was originally put in place in 2015.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma defended the actions of the Trump administration around the ACA.  In a speech before the World Health Care Congress, Administrator Verma claimed the law was broken before he took office.  Verma also pointed to the administration’s proposed rule on short-term insurance plans that are not ACA-compliant saying extending the plans duration to one year will help to lower the cost of plans available to consumers.

FDA chief questions protections on drug rebates, stocks fall – Reuters (May 4)

“U.S. Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb on Thursday questioned whether rebates that drugmakers provide to health insurers should remain protected by federal law, sparking new concerns on Wall Street over efforts to curb drug pricing. Gottlieb was referring to the common practice of pharmaceutical companies setting a high “list price” for a drug, and then lowering the cost for health plans through hefty rebates in exchange for the broadest access to patients. In recent weeks, he has criticized these practices for keeping drug prices high and locking out competitors. “What if we took on this system directly, by having the federal government reexamine the current safe harbor for drug rebates under the Anti-Kickback Statute?” Gottlieb said in remarks prepared for a Food and Drug Law Institute conference and posted on the FDA’s website.”

‘I will sign immediately,’ Trump Promises to Expand Private Health Care for Veterans – WaPo (May 3)

“President Trump on Thursday promised he would “immediately” sign revamped legislation expanding veterans’ access to private medical care at taxpayer expense, if Congress passes a new plan being considered just weeks before the “Choice Program” runs out of money. In a tweet Thursday, the president noted that it has been four years since the wait-times scandal at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix. That controversy showed that hospital employees were lying about the amount of time veterans waited for urgent health care, including cancer treatment and mental-health counseling.”

Trump says he’ll quickly sign veterans care bill if Congress passes – PBS (May 3)

“President Donald Trump says he’ll quickly sign legislation expanding veterans’ access to private medical care if Congress clears the plan by Memorial Day. Trump noted in a tweet Thursday that it’s been four years since a scandal at a VA hospital in Phoenix, in which some veterans died while waiting for appointments. Congress has been working on overhauling the existing “choice” program, which is running out of money. Proposals have stalled over disagreements about cost and how much access veterans should have to private doctors.”


April 27, 2018

It was a busy week for healthcare in Washington with lots of new developments and a cancelled event – the President’s postponement of his speech on drug pricing.

The opioid epidemic is clearly the largest public health threat facing the country with 42,000 lives lost in 2016 alone. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee reported S. 2680 – the Opioid Crisis Response Act by voice vote. The bill is comprised of over 40 initiatives largely from HELP Committee Senators. Although this bill sailed through committee, there was discussion of more controversial amendments being offered on the Senate floor should Leader McConnell allocate floor time. One notable proposal is from Senator Sanders (I-VT) to impose significant fines on drug manufacturers for their role in the opioid crisis.

The Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee also reported 63 opioid-related bills to the full committee. While some of these proposals were non-controversial and passed with bipartisan support, Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) expressed his frustration about the committee acting too quickly without sufficient input from the federal agencies the bills are charging with new tasks to fight the epidemic. Pallone is fearful the quick actions could end up doing more harm than good. Democrats on the committee tried to block a few of the bills but did not have the votes to stop them from moving forward.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) released a Request for Information (RFI) about a possible new payment model. The new payment model, known as direct provider contracting, would attempt to put the patient at the center of this new care model. Unlike an accountable care organization or medical home where health care providers are coordinating the care, this would rely on the patient to determine the best providers and services needed for their own care. Interested parties have until May 25 to submit responses to the questions posed in the RFI.

The President’s nominee for Secretary of Veteran Affairs (VA) Real Admiral Ronny Jackson withdrew his name from consideration.  Reports surfaced about alleged activities conducted while serving as the White House Attending Physician that were giving Senators on both sides of the aisle pause about Dr. Jackson’s candidacy. There is speculation that the President will look at other healthcare leaders for the next nominee to lead the VA.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma made a big splash at the Health Datapalooza conference this week. Administrator Verma announced that CMS will make public data from Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. The agency will release preliminary data from 2015 plans this year. Next year CMS will also release data from the Childrens’ Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid. It is a big day for more data transparency and health research opportunities.

  • HHS proposes Medicare payment rules to encourage hospitals to be clearer about prices – Washington Post (Apr 27)
    “The Trump administration is proposing to rewrite rules on federal payments to hospitals treating older Americans on Medicare, making it easier for patients to see the prices of procedures and care. As part of annual updates to Medicare payment rules, federal health officials also want to add $1.5 billion for the coming year to the funds for so-called disproportionate share payments that help buffer hospitals from the expense of treating patients who cannot pay their bills.”
  • Medicare may require hospitals to share electronic records – Axios (Apr 25)
    “Even though electronic health records have become ubiquitous, hospitals and doctors still have not been able to easily share medical information with each other or with patients. Tying Medicare payments to an open exchange of medical records could force the industry to solve the practice known as information blocking.”
  • Drug Pricing Proposal Should Revamp Medicare, GOP Experts Say – Roll Call (Apr 25)
    “The administration’s proposal is a request for comment on strategies to lower drug prices and out-of-pocket costs. It was originally expected to be released in tandem with a speech by President Donald Trump on Thursday, but the speech was delayed as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recovers from an infection.”
  • Frustration grows in health care industry over costs – Axios (Apr 27)
    “The next big battle in health care will almost certainly be about costs, and right now it’s largely confined to industry infighting and finger-pointing. But mounting frustration from employers and employees could put cost controls on the table faster than you might think. Frustration over health care costs is one thing. But the greater threat to the health care industry is one that’s just starting to percolate — concern that we’ve already maxed out the existing tools to control those costs.”

April 20, 2018

Next week is shaping up to be a big week for healthcare in Washington.  The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) is scheduled to markup S. 2680, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, next Wednesday.  This bill is comprised of 40 different proposals mostly from Senators serving on the HELP Committee.  The legislation will make changes at 5 federal health agencies:  Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Centers for Disease Control (CDC); Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  However, it does not propose any changes to the Medicare and Medicaid programs which both lie in the Senate Finance Committee’s jurisdiction.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is also marking up a legislative package of proposals next Thursday.  The committee is looking to package 34 separate proposals from Members of Congress serving on the panel.  The bill which has not yet been introduced is expected to – at least – temporarily repeal the restriction on using Medicaid funds for inpatient treatment of addiction.  The bill is also expected to make it easier to treat opioid abuse with telehealth under the Medicare program.

The President is planning to make a speech on drug pricing next Thursday.  It is also expected that we will see the release of a Notice from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on a strategy to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs.  HHS submitted the draft Notice to the Office of Management and Budget this past Tuesday.  The Notice is expected to be a Request for Information on how to lower drug prices and the administration is expected to take more specific actions on drug pricing this summer.

HHS Secretary Azar announced this week that James Parker will serve as his Senior Advisor for transforming our health care system to a value-based system rather than a fee-for-service system.  Parker most recently served as the Chief Executive Officer of an Indiana based managed care organization MDwise, Inc.

  • Trump plans first major speech on drug prices next week – Politico (Apr 16)
    “President Donald Trump is set to deliver his first major speech on drug prices on April 26, revisiting an issue he campaigned on but that is unlikely to yield major legislative changes. The strategy is unlikely to call for actions of the sort Trump touted on the campaign trail like allowing the government to negotiate the cost of drugs for Medicare, but based on the president’s fiscal 2019 budget request could advocate for Medicare and Medicaid demonstrations to test new ways of paying for drugs on a smaller scale, like allowing some states to try negotiating drug costs in Medicaid.”
  • NIH abruptly changes course on industry opioids partnership after ethics flags raised – Stat (April 19)
    “Dozens of drug companies were on the verge of teaming up with [NIH], which researchers hope will lead to the discovery of new medicines to treat addiction or serve as alternatives to opioids. But in an abrupt shift, the agency announced late last week that it won’t accept funds from drug makers after all. Citing recommendationsissued earlier this month by an NIH advisory panel, Collins said the agency will exclusively use taxpayer money to fund a comprehensive research initiative on pain and substance use disorder treatment.
  • GOP in retreat on ObamaCare – The Hill (Apr 20)
    Republicans are retreating from calls to repeal ObamaCare ahead of this year’s midterm elections. Less than a year after the GOP gave up on its legislative effort to repeal the law, Democrats are going on offense on this issue, attacking Republicans for their votes as they hope to retake the House majority.

April 13, 2018

A big focus this past week was the opioid epidemic.  The Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee held a hearing examining 34 bills that the committee hopes will shape a comprehensive legislative package the Majority is hoping to bring to the floor before the Memorial Day recess.  Democratic members on the committee are concerned about the committee moving too quickly and the possibility of a partisan opioid bill if they are not earnestly engaged in the drafting of the legislation.  There are a number of issues on the table including allowing Medicaid to pay for inpatient addiction treatments and tracking prescriptions electronically in the Medicare program to help prevent abuse.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) released a bipartisan draft bill to address the crisis.  The bill is a product of 29 proposals put forward by nearly every member of the HELP Committee.  The bill seeks to give the National Institutes of Health the flexibility necessary to develop non-addictive pain killers a move that Chairman Alexander (R-TN) dubbed the “Holy Grail” of tackling the opioid epidemic.  Other provisions would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greater authority to require drug manufacturers to package opioids in packaging for a set duration of time like a 3 or 7-day packet and to give consumers safe ways to dispose of unused opioids.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb had some strong words about drug pricing at the Community Oncology Alliance’s meeting held in Maryland.  Commissioner Gottlieb took issue with raising co-pays and co-insurance requirements that are putting patients in precarious financial situations as they are seeking treatment for their lethal diseases.  The cost of pharmaceuticals is one of the top priorities for Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Azar and we are likely to see administrative actions to address pricing.

We are also hearing the final rule on Association Health Plans may emerge from the Department of Labor in the next month or two.  It will be interesting to see how aggressive the Department of Labor will be with the final rule.  It is likely that the final rule will be challenged in the courts.

  • Top House, Senate Dems warn administration on short-term insurance – The Hill (April 13)
    “The ranking Democrats of five House and Senate committees are calling on the Trump administration to withdraw a proposal that would expand access to plans that don’t meet ObamaCare’s consumer protection rules. Led by House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone Jr.(N.J.), the Democrats warned Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other administration officials in a Thursday letter that the rule would “encourage the sale of junk health plans that will undermine consumer protections, sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces, and expose consumers to great financial risk.””
  • NIH director: Agency is looking at alcohol industry influence ‘in a very aggressive way’ – STAT (April 11)
    “The controversy over research conducted by the National Institutes of Health on the health impacts of moderate drinking has reached Capitol Hill, where a lawmaker on Wednesday stridently questioned the agency’s director, Francis Collins, over the NIH’s reportedly cozy relationship with the alcohol industry. In response to a question about reports that the NIH had allowed industry partnerships to influence research into alcohol use and the impact of alcohol marketing, Collins told Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) that the NIH is “looking into this in a very aggressive way.””
  • About half of Americans support single-payer health care – Washington Post (April 12)
    “As President Trump’s administration tries to chip away at the Affordable Care Act by giving more authority to states to regulate private insurance, a new poll finds a slight majority of Americans support a move in the opposite direction, with everyone getting health insurance from a national government-run program. A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds a 51 percent majority of Americans support a national health plan, also known as a single-payer plan, while 43 percent oppose it.”

April 6, 2018

This week an internal memo issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar surfaced outlining how the Secretary plans to run the department.  The main takeaway from this appears to be that power and influence is being consolidated under Azar’s Deputy Secretary and close confidant Eric Hargan.  The two served together at HHS during President George W. Bush’s administration and are known to have a strong rapport.  Under this reorganization, Deputy Secretary Hargan will be the lead on all regulatory matters and will be the primary liaison between the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the White House.  The memo also addresses the consolidation of staff and the removal of up to 40 percent of policy staff to streamline decision making.

Secretary Azar identified his top four priorities for the department: combating the opioid crisis; bringing down the cost of prescription drugs; addressing the cost and availability of health insurance; and transforming our health care system to a value-based system. Azar is creating several “Senior Advisors” – a new position – to help guide action on each of these priorities.  Two of those advisors were named (Daniel Best for drug pricing and Dr. Brett Giroir for opioids); the other two will be named soon.

If you would like a copy of the memo, please email jacob.beaver@prime-policy.com.

Elsewhere in healthcare, Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a rare public health advisory this week urging friends and family of people who are at risk of opioid overdose to carry with them naloxone which is used to treat overdoses.  While first responders and many police officers carry naloxone, they often arrive too late in cases of overdoses.  The last public health advisory from the Surgeon General’s office came in 2005 to warn against the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.  This action by the Surgeon General indicates how severe the opioid epidemic has become.

  • Senate Panel Unveils Draft Bill to Combat Opioid Addiction – Roll Call (Apr 5)
    “The Senate health panel on Wednesday released a discussion draft intended to curb opioid addiction. The development comes as other House and Senate committees also prepare legislation. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee plans to discuss this legislation at an upcoming hearing on April 11. The panel has already held six hearings on the opioid crisis so far this Congress featuring representatives from agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as governors from states affected by the crisis.”
  • Heller promised Obamacare repeal in Las Vegas speech to GOP club – Las Vegas Review Journal (Apr 5)
    “…Heller predicted that Republicans will pick up a handful of Senate seats in the midterm elections, and that would be the path to fulfilling that long-held promise of a repeal. “I think at the end of the day we end up with 53, 54 seats,” Heller said. “If we can do that, then we can repeal and replace and change the ACA as we know it today.” Heller was not among the original supporters of Trump, and was especially critical of then-candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign season.”
  • In rare advisory, surgeon general urges public to carry overdose-reversal medication – STAT (Apr 5)
    “Surgeon General Jerome Adamsis issuing a rare public health advisory on Thursday, calling for friends and family of people at risk for opioid overdoses to carry the OD-reversal medication naloxone. He likened the treatment to other livesaving interventions, such as knowing how to perform CPR or use an EpiPen.”

See All March 2018 Updates

See All February 2018 Updates

See All January 2018 Updates

Rich Meade

Rich Meade, a Vice Chairman at Prime Policy Group and Chair of the firm’s Healthcare Practice has over 25 years of experience in legislative, regulatory, political and public relations strategy. He previously served as Chief of Staff to the House Budget Committee. Rich has helped his clients navigate many complex regulatory and legislative landscapes to achieve many public policy successes including transitioning to a new Medicare payment and quality system, and developing, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), a health information exchange (HIE) on the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN).


Elizabeth Hart Thompson

Elizabeth Hart Thompson has nearly two decades of experience as a senior staff member on Capitol Hill and a lobbyist. She joined Prime from Crossroads Strategies, where she focused on health care, financial services and technology. Building on her extensive knowledge of the political and legislative processes, as well as, her dedication to team work, Elizabeth is particularly adept at developing and executing advocacy strategies that deliver meaningful results to clients.


Mitchell Vakerics

Mitchell has been delivering trusted counsel across a diverse practice of legislative, policy and political issues for more than a decade. During his long-standing tenure both in Congress and throughout the political and policy sphere of Washington, he has tackled some of the largest healthcare, energy and regulatory issues presented before the federal government. He has a massive range of relationships and strategic congressional partnerships has paid dividends for consecutive congressional sessions. Mitch is a member of Prime Policy Group’s healthcare practice.


Jacob Beaver

Jacob is an Associate at Prime Policy Group, where he is an integral member of the Firm’s research team.