Washington Update, January 2023

Washington Update

2023 Washington Outlook
by Johanna Gray, Advocacy Consultant

This month has brought a new Congress with new rules and dozens of new members, a change in party control of the House of Representatives, and a new set of opportunities and challenges for HTCs and the bleeding disorders in Washington. Here’s what you need to know:

The 118th Congress is still getting organized. The members of various committees are still getting identified and real legislative work hasn’t started yet, despite the members taking office at the beginning of the month. There are new chairs and ranking members for a number of key committees, who are hiring staff and starting to identify priority issues for 2023. New House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) has indicated an interest in increasing transparency of health care costs. New Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Chair Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants to continue to enact more policies to lower high drug prices and advance his goal of establishing a single-payer health care system.

A new Congress also means that that all bills need to be reintroduced. We’re working now with a number of Members of Congress on the reintroduction of the HELP Copays Act, the legislation prohibiting copay accumulator adjustor programs that the Alliance and many other organizations supported last year. There were a number of bills addressing the 340B program that were introduced last year and we expect many of them to be reintroduced.

With the very narrow partisan margins for both the House and the Senate and the difference in party control between the two chambers, it is likely to not be an especially productive Congress. It also means that for anything to pass Congress, it will need to be something that can gain support from both parties. There is a growing bipartisan interest in enacting reform of the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) industry, that we know is responsible for so many practices that make it harder for people with bleeding disorders to access the care they need, and for constructing so many pharmacy networks that exclude HTCs. We are going to be advocating for any policies here to help address our community’s concerns about PBMs – exclusionary networks, copay accumulator and maximizer programs, alternative funding and more. As noted above, there’s also interest in tackling transparency across the health care system – that could create opportunities and challenges for HTCs. Again, we’re keeping a close eye as this all starts to develop.

For its part, the Biden Administration will be even more interested in enacting policies that don’t require Congress to act. We are anticipating regulations relating to improving access to coverage in light of the upcoming Medicaid unwinding (keep reading below!). There will also be new policies to implement the drug pricing negotiation and other provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act enacted last year.

Finally, just a reminder at the start of the year that the Alliance is committed to advancing policies that address the needs of HTCs and their patients. But, we need your help! First, please always feel comfortable to reach out to us about issues that your center is facing so we can assess whether and what policy solutions might help. Second, with a few dozen new Members of Congress, countless new staffers, and the potential that lots of policies important to HTCs could be on the agenda this year, we need you to come to Washington to participate in the Hemophilia Alliance Hill Day this June! Stay tuned for more information about the event, our advocacy goals, and how you can participate.

Also in this Issue…

Notes from Joe
· Isn’t it Strange?

Alliance Update
· Reminder: The 340B Program Recertification Period is Open!
· Save the Date for Alliance Meetings for 2023!

Legal Update
· 340B Compliance Spotlight: The Importance of Self-Audits

Payer Update
· Prepare for the Medicaid PHE Unwinding and Redetermination Process

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