June 12, 2017

By Mike Amery, Esq., Senior Legislative Counsel

Congress was back in town last week after the Memorial Day break. The AAN DC staff met with several key members of Congress throughout the week, including Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-LA), as the Senate worked on introducing a repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Cassidy is one of the key negotiators looking for a compromise, and he appreciated hearing the AAN's views on coverage for patients with neurologic conditions. 

Trump Proposed Budget Calls for Drastic Cuts to NIH, CDC

  • The Trump administration released its FY2018 budget proposal which calls for drastic cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and other federal agencies tasked with health care research and safety.
  • We have had many conversations on Capitol Hill and are finding no support for the Trump proposal. We continue to express our concern and advocate for research funding.
  • NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, a major supporter of the BRAIN Initiative, will maintain his position under the Trump administration. 

BRAIN Initiative Letter Sent to Senate Appropriations Committee

  • Funding for the BRAIN Initiative at NIH was a top priority at the AAN's Neurology on the Hill event in late February.
  • After securing an increase of $110 million for the Initiative in FY2017 funding, the AAN has turned to securing funding for FY2018.
  • At the request of the AAN, a letter sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee last week supporting increased funding circulated through the Senate. The AAN thanks all of the advocates who worked to add the signatures of ten senators who supported the letter:
    • Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), lead Democrat
    • Mike Rounds (R-SD), lead Republican
    • Cory Booker (D-NJ)
    • Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
    • Susan Collins (R-ME)
    • Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY)
    • Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
    • Ed Markey (D-MA)
    • Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
    • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

FAST Act CBO Score and Cosponsors

  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the CHRONIC Care Act and attached a cost of $180 million to Medicare over 10 years for the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act.
  • The CBO score did not consider state Medicaid savings and many other savings that will accompany increased access to tPA by stroke patients.
  • The FAST Act passed the Senate Finance Committee as part of the CHRONIC Care Act, S. 870.
  • The Senate version of the FAST Act, S. 431, by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) gained three cosponsors, bringing the total to nine with the addition of:
    • Sen. John Barrasso, MD (R-WY)
    • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)
    • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • The House version of FAST, H.R. 1148, by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) also gained three cosponsors bringing the total to 90 with the addition of:
    • Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
    • Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT)
    • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) 

AAN Delegation is Hard at Work at the AMA House of Delegates Meeting

  • The AMA House of Delegates meeting is underway in Chicago, and the AAN delegation is hard at work representing neurology.
    • The AAN is the lead sponsor on a resolution opposing H.R. 1313, The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, which would remove important nondiscrimination protections. Rheumatology and endocrinology also have signed on as cosponsors.
    • Our delegation has joined more than 10 physician groups as a cosponsor of a resolution that requests CMS to delay the effective date of the Medicare Appropriate Use Criteria Program for advanced imaging.
    • Neurology delegates will be watching hundreds of other resolutions on important topics including drug pricing and transparency, MACRA, and administrative burden.