June 24-27: Chief financial officers take over Las Vegas for the Healthcare Financial Management Association's annual conference (they jettisoned the moniker "Annual National Institute"). Our own Tara Bannow will be on the ground finding out and reporting on what keeps the industry's keenest financial minds up at night.
June 26: With the ink dry on a $10 billion contract with Cerner Corp. to update the Veterans Affairs Department's electronic health record system, Congress is gearing up its oversight machine. The House Veterans' Affairs Committee is holding a hearing, "VA Electronic Health Record Modernization: The Beginning of the Beginning." Chairman Dr. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-Minn.) also announced the creation of a new subcommittee to exclusively bird-dog the massive project. The subcommittee's first meeting will be July 12.
June 26: Budget season is underway in D.C. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies will take up a spending bill to fund HHS for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2019. A House spending bill released earlier this month called for giving HHS $89.2 billion, which is $1 billion more than last year.
June 27: Pharmacy benefit managers may want to take cover, again. HHS Secretary Alex Azar gets another public forum to take aim at the supply chain middlemen during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on "prescription drug affordability and innovation." During a June 12 hearing before the Senate's health committee, Azar was clear that he's not happy with the current business model, saying the delivery system would be better off if "PBMs receive no compensation from the very pharma companies they're supposed to be negotiating against." He also said Congress should end "gaming" tactics that generic drug manufacturers use to stifle competition.
June 27: While we are on the topic of cost and innovation, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee kicks off a series of hearings on—you guessed it—costs! The first hearing will just set the stage. It features academics from Vanderbilt University, Harvard Medical School and Georgetown University giving a tutorial on healthcare costs in America. Future hearings will presumably get into the weeds on how to bring down costs.