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Capitol Hill Report: AAN Advocacy on FAST Act, Drug Pricing Gains Traction

May 22, 2017

Congress is back in action after a short break and first up last week was a hearing and a vote on a top AAN priority, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act. 

Here is the latest from Washington

Senate Finance Committee Votes on the CHRONIC Care Act

  • The CHRONIC Care Act, S. 870, contains the FAST Act which would extend Medicare payments for telemedicine consults for stroke in urban and suburban areas as it currently does in rural hospitals.
  • Last Tuesday, AAN member Lee Schwamm, MD, FAHA, testified in support of FAST Act in the Senate Finance Committee, which held a hearing on the CHRONIC Care Act.
  • On Thursday, the Finance Committee passed the CHRONIC Care Act out of committee on a unanimous vote, making S. 870 eligible for consideration on the floor of the Senate.

Senate version of FAST Act Now Has Seven Cosponsors

  • Authored by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), additional sponsors include Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

The House Version of the FAST Act Is up to 85 Cosponsors

With the addition of:

  • Rep. Brendan Boyle [D-PA-13] 
  • Rep. Larry Bucshon [R-IN-8] 
  • Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan [D-CA-44] 
  • Rep. Markwayne Mullin [R-OK-2] 
  • Rep. David McKinley [R-WV-1] 
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D-FL-23]
  • Rep. Erik Paulsen [R-MN-03]
  • Rep. Roger Marshall [R-KS-01]

VA Developing National Telestroke Center

  • The Veterans Administration is developing a national telestroke center, with the first of the 10 pilot sites to go live later this year. The full center should be up and running nationally within five years.

Drug Pricing Discussions Heat Up

  • Public opinion is soaring that something needs to be done about drug prices. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds:
    • 92% in favor of allowing Medicare to negotiate prices
    • 86% support pricing transparency
    • 72% support for reimportation from Canada
    • 56% support for bans on direct-to-consumer advertising
  • David Jones, MD, chair of AAN MS Section, represented an MS Coalition in a meeting about drug prices with Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price. 
  • Drug companies are responding to the increased pressure from the public and Congress. Pharmaceutical company Sanofi will limit its annual drug price increases to the rate of medical inflation or provide justification for increases above that rate, according to the company's new pricing policy.

AAN Agrees to Support S. 771 by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

HELP Committee Announces Plans to Hold Hearing on US Drug Prices

  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced plans to hold a hearing on US prescription drug prices after the bipartisan request of several committee members including Al Franken (D-MN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Mike Enzi (R-WY).

Senate Confirms Commissioner of the FDA

  • The Senate confirmed Scott Gottlieb, MD, as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration by a vote of 57 to 42. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Angus King (I-ME), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) joined all Republicans in voting in favor of the confirmation.

PALF Grad Highlighted by People Magazine 

  • 2015 PALF graduate Mitzi Payne, MD, of West Virginia, shared her success as a leader of Lily's Place, a center for newborns suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Twice a month, Payne holds a follow-up clinic for babies that have graduated from Lily's Place. Her story is highlighted in a video from People Magazine.
  • Last weekend, 29 new Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum (PALF) graduates joined the ranks of PALF alumni. This AAN advocacy leadership program now boasts 443 graduates since the first forum in 2003.

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