Sometime this week: The Senate will vote on a package of bills addressing the opioid crisis. The legislation has been held up by partisan bickering (shocking, right?). Among other things, the package would authorize new funding for states, expand access to medication-assisted treatment, and would let the National Institutes of Health research new, non-addictive painkillers. The House passed its legislation in June, so the bills would have to be reconciled before going to the president for his signature.
Sept. 10: The CMS closes the books on comments for the proposed 2019 physician fee schedule. The 1,473-page proposal included some indications of where the agency is headed with future Medicare regulations, including targeting high-cost procedures, considering opioid bundles and overhauling MIPS. As of late last week, nearly 9,000 comments had been submitted. A quick glance at comment summaries on Regulations.gov showed deep concern over changes to evaluation and management codes, which have been in place since 1995.
Sept. 10: This is also the deadline for commenting on the CMS' 2019 prospective payment system rule for end-stage renal disease. The agency proposed boosting dialysis facilities' pay and changing how the agency pays for durable medical equipment. The modifications would result in a 1.7%, or $190 million, increase in reimbursement. On top of that, dialysis centers should receive an additional $30 million in co-pays from Medicare beneficiaries, bringing their total pay bump to $220 million.
Sept. 13: The migraine-inducing process that is a revamp of the VA's electronic health record system will get more congressional scrutiny. The newly formed House VA Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, set up for the sole purpose of bird-dogging the EHR overhaul, holds its inaugural hearing. The meeting notice says the subcommittee will examine the role of a VA and Defense Department program aimed at addressing interoperability. But this will be the first public event on the project since Genevieve Morris resigned as interim chief health information officer overseeing the 10-year, $16 billion project.