Our colleagues at ML Strategies have provided their Health Care Weekly Preview for the week of July 24, 2017.  This week’s preview focuses on the Better Care Reconciliation Act and Senate parliamentary rules.  The preview also addresses Wednesday’s House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee’s hearing on Special Needs Plans, FDA User Fee Reauthorizations, and the health care minibus.

Stay tuned for additional updates from ML Strategies!

While we continue to follow the recreational marijuana legalization saga and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Medical Marijuana Program, our colleagues on the employment law side of the equation are monitoring decisions regarding the ability of employers to take disciplinary action against employees for using marijuana at work.  This blog post discusses an important new decision issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, in which the Court concluded that, under the circumstances in that case, employers must accommodate medical marijuana users in the normal course to avoid violating the state’s antidiscrimination laws when it fires an employee because of a failed drug test based on the employee’s use of medical marijuana. It’s a must read for employers grappling with this emerging area of employment law.

 

Our colleagues at ML Strategies have provided a Health Care Weekly Preview.  This week’s preview describes the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the User Fee Acts (UFAs), the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and the health care Minibus.

Stay tuned for additional updates and analysis from ML Strategies.

It appears that – at least for now – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is serving as the public face of the executive branch’s efforts to tackle the increasingly contentious debate about prescription drug prices. As we previously reported, following a May 25, 2017 budget hearing, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has made increased competition in the drug marketplace a high policy priority for the Agency. To that end, we have recently seen concrete steps being taken to advance Dr. Gottlieb’s multi-pronged “Drug Competition Action Plan.” Continue Reading FDA Stays in the Spotlight with Drug Pricing Moves, but Could Be Facing Risk as UFA Bill Loses Attention

The Massachusetts legislature has targeted July 1, 2017 as the date by which it will have legislation on Governor Charlie Baker’s desk regarding the commercial cultivation, processing, and sale of non-medicinal cannabis products for adult use. On June 23rd, the House and Senate each appointed members to a 6-member conference committee that is tasked with resolving the differences between the (renumbered) House and Senate bills, H.3776 and S.2097. There are a number of differences to be addressed, including taxation, enforcement, and the ability of communities to limit or prohibit the establishment of cannabis businesses, even when a community has allowed a registered medical marijuana dispensary. ML Strategies has issued a Client Alert summarizing the progress of this issue from passage of the November 16, 2016 ballot question establishing “recreational” production and sale of cannabis products, through this most recent legislative activity. Stay tuned for further coverage.

Children in United States receive their health insurance from multiple sources: the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, employer-sponsored insurance, or a qualified health plan on the Marketplace. This creates a fragmented system of coverage for children and families, particularly for low- and moderate-income families, who often have children and parents enrolled in across separate coverage sources.

With CHIP funding scheduled to expire on September 30, 2017, the future of children’s coverage will be up for debate again. Proposals have called for an extension of CHIP funding. However, as Katie Weider and Rodney Whitlock of ML Strategies discuss in their latest Health Affairs blog, it is time for us to stop talking about CHIP, and instead start talking about integrating the myriad of children’s coverage sources.  That blog is available here.

 

UPDATE: Shortly after this post went live, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he would be delaying the vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act until after the Fourth of July recess.  Stay tuned for further updates and analysis from the team at ML Strategies!

The Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act is currently being poured over by Senate Republicans and their staff, but the early prognosis for a vote this week is not good. Senate leadership had set a goal of voting on this legislation – known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) – before the Fourth of July recess, which means by this Friday. However, calls for more time to review the bill as well as concerns over certain key provisions – like those touching Medicaid – may stall Senate progress at a critical moment for health care repeal efforts. Here’s where things stand: Continue Reading Capitol Hill Update: Affordable Care Act Repeal on the Ropes?

This is Part 3 in my series exploring the history of FDA’s regulation of off-label communications, which has become newly relevant in light of the recent events highlighted in Part 1. In this installment, I continue describing how FDA’s regulatory scheme has persisted in light of the key First Amendment decisions involving off-label promotion. Even though FDA hesitated in and ultimately rejected promulgating regulations that would make any action “that directly or indirectly suggests to the physician or to the patient that an approved drug may properly be used for unapproved uses for which it is neither labeled nor advertised” (37 Fed. Reg. 16,503, 16,504) into a matter warranting enforcement action, the Agency used this reasoning to shape an off-label communication policy. As I described in Part 2, FDA’s policy enjoyed some support from federal courts; however, this support was only temporary. More recently, federal courts have shown support for the idea that truthful and non-misleading promotions of off-label uses of drugs and devices by manufacturers are protected under the First Amendment. A review of the pivotal cases in this area will help put FDA’s off-label policy in perspective, especially in light of FDA’s reaction to these cases in a memorandum published in January 2017. Continue Reading The Past, Present, and Future of Government Regulation of Off-Label Communications – Part 3

As we gear up for a busy week in Washington, D.C., our colleagues at ML Strategies have provided a Health Care Weekly Preview.  This week’s preview describes upcoming hearing on safety net health programs and prescription drug costs along with the progress of the American Health Care Act.  Stay tuned for additional updates and analysis from ML Strategies.