Legislation Update -- June 2015

 
 
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We’re already about a quarter of the way through the 114th Congress and several bills have been introduced that would help fight hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C.  Below is a summary of legislation NVHR has endorsed so far this year.  You can help by calling your House Representative and two Senators using the US Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and asking them to support these bills.  Not sure who your representatives are?  Find out here.  If you have any questions about these bills, please contact Christine Rodriguez, Public Policy Manager.


The information below includes links to both Senate and House bill text, links to an original co-sponsor’s press release and main bill provisions described there, as well as NVHR’s letters of support for all legislation except the Viral Hepatitis Testing Act (here we have supplied a fact sheet on the bill provided to us by Senator Hirono’s office, in which we’re listed as an endorser).

 


 

Viral Hepatitis Testing Act of 2015S.1287 / H.R.1101, introduced May 2015 and February 2015 (respectively).  The bill would:

 

  • Provide $80 million over three years for expanded hepatitis B and C surveillance, education, and testing programs.

  • Prioritize diagnosis and education for at-risk populations.

  • Help ensure that veterans are screened for hepatitis B and C and linked to care and treatment.

  • Encourage additional education amongst health professionals and the public on hepatitis and increase care services for individuals with hepatitis B or C.

  • Fact Sheet

 


 

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2015S.524 / H.R.953, introduced February 2015.  A broad response to the opioid/heroin addiction and overdose crises, this bill would:

 

  • Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery.

  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.

  • Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.

  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.

  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions program.  While we have medications that can help treat addiction, there is a critical need to get the training and resources necessary to expand treatment best practices throughout the country.

  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

  • NVHR Endorsement: Senate / House

 


 

Supporting Colorectal Examination and Education Now (SCREEN) Act of 2015S.1079 / H.R.2035, introduced April 2015.  The bill would:

 

  • Waive cost-sharing under Medicare for all screening colonoscopies, even if a polyp or tissue is removed, as well as for follow-up colonoscopies needed to complete the “screening continuum” after a positive finding from another colorectal cancer screening test.

  • Seek to improve coordination of care and promote other important age-based screening for Medicare beneficiaries, such as Hepatitis C screening, by creating a demonstration project. 

    • See an infographic on this provision, created by the American College of Gastroenterologists, here.

  • Provide incentives for Medicare providers to participate in nationally recognized quality improvement registries to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries are receiving the quality screening they deserve.

  • NVHR Endorsement: Senate / House

 


 

Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) ActS.1455 / H.R.2536, introduced May 2015.  Aiming to expand access to buprenorphinie/Suboxone for medication-assisted therapy, this bill would:

 

  • Help increase the number of patients who have access to treatment by allowing substance abuse treatment specialists and certain other trained physicians who are practicing in a team-based facility that has built in quality measures to see a greater number of patients.

  • Allow trained nurse practitioners and physician assistants to treat, for the first time, opioid dependent patients with approved medication assisted treatments

  • NVHR Endorsement: Senate / House

 


 

Part D Beneficiary Appeals Fairness ActS.1488 / H.R.2624, introduced June 2015.  The bill would:

 

  • Allow Medicare Part D beneficiaries to request lower co-pays for high-cost specialty drugs used to treat chronic illnesses.

  • Currently, Medicare Part D beneficiaries are prohibited from seeking exemptions from their plans that could lower their cost-share for specialty drugs – a basic right beneficiaries have throughout the rest of the program.

  • NVHR Endorsement: Senate / House