Issue: Health Care

House Passes Walorski Bill to Help Seniors Live at Home

House Passes Walorski Bill to Help Seniors Live at Home

Bipartisan Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act Would Modernize Programs Like Saint Joseph PACE in Mishawaka

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today applauded House passage of her bipartisan legislation to modernize a program that helps seniors live at home longer. The Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act, which passed by a unanimous voice vote, would bring improvements to Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), which allow seniors with complex care needs to continue living at home.

“Seniors facing health challenges should be able to get high-quality health care while continuing to live in their own homes,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “Innovative programs like Saint Joseph PACE in Mishawaka have proven effective in improving health outcomes and allowing seniors to be more independent. This bipartisan, commonsense legislation will modernize these programs so more Hoosier seniors can live at home longer.”

“We are grateful for Rep. Walorski’s continued support in seeking ways to make PACE more available for the people of Indiana,” said Stacey Newton, Executive Director of Saint Joseph PACE. “PACE is proven to be the most effective way for people with long term care needs to continue to live in the community with the highest quality of life possible.  This bill will allow PACE to grow faster and reach more people and families in need not only in Indiana but across the country.”

“NPA expects the PACE final rule to provide much needed flexibility, in contrast to current PACE regulations, which will allow PACE to grow faster and to operate more efficiently,” said National PACE Association President & CEO Shawn Bloom. “Today we applaud the House of Representatives for passing this critically important legislation. In particular, we commend the strong leadership of  H.R. 6561’s sponsor Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2).”

Video of Walorski speaking on the House floor in support of the legislation is available here. The full text of her remarks is below.

“I rise today in support of H.R. 6561, the Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act of 2018. This bipartisan legislation would require the Secretary of HHS to finalize updated regulations for the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, commonly known as PACE, while still giving the Secretary the flexibility to make updates and changes to the proposed regulation.

“The PACE program is a proven model for delivering high-quality, comprehensive, community-based health care for seniors. It helps seniors whose health conditions would otherwise land them in a nursing home to remain in their own homes for as long as possible by allowing them to see health professionals and social service providers at local PACE centers.

“There are currently 124 PACE organizations in 31 states that serve over 45,000 Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, enabling them to live safely in the community through the fully integrated services and supports provided. This allows beneficiaries to live longer, experience better health, and have fewer hospital visits. Seniors facing health challenges should have the option to receive high-quality health care while continuing to live at home, and programs like St. Joseph PACE in Mishawaka in my district allow them to do that.

“In 2016, CMS released a proposed rule to update the original guidelines from 2006. A bipartisan group of members of Congress sent letters in November 2017 and June 2018 urging CMS to prioritize updating the existing regulatory framework, which is more than a decade old. The agency has unfortunately not taken any action.

“This much-needed update would allow PACE programs to customize their interdisciplinary team around the needs of each enrollee, provide more services in the community, and give greater flexibility to partner with community providers.”

BACKGROUND

Walorski recently joined U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and U.S. Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in introducing the bipartisan, bicameral legislation.

H.R. 6561 / S. 3338 would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to finalize updated regulations for PACE programs by the end of the year. PACE is a proven model for delivering high-quality, comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated community-based health care to seniors and individuals with disabilities who meet the criteria for nursing home care but wish to live at home.

Organizations supporting the Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act include the National PACE Association, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Alzheimer’s Association, and UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.

Currently, 124 PACE organizations across 31 states serve more than 45,000 people. Trinity Health operates Saint Joseph PACE, which serves Hoosiers at a center in Mishawaka.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Committee Approves Walorski Bill to Help Seniors Live at Home

Committee Approves Walorski Bill to Help Seniors Live at Home

Ways and Means Sends Bipartisan Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act to House Floor

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today applauded Ways and Means Committee passage of the Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act, her bipartisan legislation to speed up the modernization of Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), which allow seniors with complex care needs to continue living at home.

“Seniors facing health challenges should have the option to receive high-quality health care while continuing to live at home, and the PACE program helps them do that,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “St. Joseph PACE in Mishawaka has proven this model of care is effective in improving health outcomes and quality of life. The PACE program is long overdue for an update, and this bipartisan, commonsense legislation will ensure improvements are made quickly so more seniors can live at home longer.”

Video of Walorski speaking at today’s committee markup is available here. The full text of her remarks is below.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to urge my colleagues to support H.R. 6561, the Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act of 2018. I introduced this bipartisan legislation with Representatives Jenkins, Chu, Blumenauer, and Kind. I want to thank them for their hard work on this bill and their previous work on this issue.

“The Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, commonly known as PACE, is a proven model for delivering high-quality, comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated community-based health care for seniors. It helps seniors whose health conditions would otherwise land them in a nursing home to remain in the community for as long as possible by allowing them to see health professionals and social service providers at local PACE centers.

“In 2016, CMS released a proposed rule to update the original guidelines from 2006. This much-needed update would allow PACE programs to customize their interdisciplinary team around the needs of each enrollee, provide more services in community settings outside of a PACE center, and give greater flexibility to partner with community providers.

“H.R. 6561 requires the Secretary of HHS to finalize updated regulations for PACE by the end of this year while still giving the Secretary the flexibility to make updates and changes to the proposed regulation.

“Seniors facing health challenges should have the option to receive high-quality health care while continuing to live at home, and the PACE program helps them do that. St. Joseph PACE in Mishawaka, Indiana, has proven this model of care is effective in improving health outcomes and quality of life. The PACE program is long overdue for an update, and this bipartisan, commonsense legislation will ensure improvements are made quickly so more seniors can live at home longer.

“I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.”

BACKGROUND

Walorski recently joined U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and U.S. Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in introducing the bipartisan, bicameral legislation.

H.R. 6561 / S. 3338 would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to finalize updated regulations for PACE programs by the end of the year. PACE is a proven model for delivering high-quality, comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated community-based health care to seniors and individuals with disabilities who meet the criteria for nursing home care but wish to live at home.

Currently, 124 PACE organizations across 31 states serve more than 45,000 people. Trinity Health operates St. Joseph PACE, which serves Hoosiers at a center in Mishawaka.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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House, Senate Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Modernize Medicare Program That Helps Seniors Live at Home

House, Senate Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Modernize Medicare Program That Helps Seniors Live at Home

Bipartisan Legislation Requires CMS to Finalize Updated Regulations for PACE Health Care Program by End of Year

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and U.S. Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) have introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to speed up the modernization of Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), which allow seniors with complex care needs to continue living at home.

“Seniors facing health challenges should have the option to receive high-quality, comprehensive health care while continuing to live at home, and the PACE program helps them do that,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “PACE organizations across the country, including St. Joseph PACE in Mishawaka, have proven this integrated care program is effective in improving health outcomes and quality of life. The PACE program is long overdue for an update, and this bipartisan, commonsense legislation will ensure improvements are made quickly so more seniors can live at home longer.”

“The PACE program has proven to be extremely beneficial to the elderly and individuals living with disabilities in my community and in communities across the country,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “The administration has a responsibility to modernize the program and make it available to more Americans. This legislation will force this modernization and go a long way in achieving our goals of better care at lower costs for those in need.”

“We have a responsibility to care for the most vulnerable among us, and PACE organizations around the country help us to do just that by providing comprehensive and high-quality care to both seniors and those living with disabilities,” said Senator Carper. “This bipartisan legislation will help to ensure that PACE remains an integral component of care for American senior citizens, and I urge both the House and Senate to take it up and pass it quickly.”

“Pennsylvania’s PACE programs help thousands of seniors who need an institutional-level of treatment remain in their homes while still receiving quality medical care,” said Senator Toomey. “As enrollment in PACE continues to grow, the program’s regulations must be flexible enough for providers to introduce new medical technologies that allow for better coordinated care. I hope the Finance Committee will soon take up our bipartisan legislation.

“We appreciate strong leaders in Congress supporting our efforts to expand the number of individuals who can benefit from the PACE model of care and the sites needed to serve them,” said Shawn Bloom, president and CEO of the National PACE Association (NPA). “The flexibility to be provided in the new PACE Final Rule are practices that have been developed and field tested over 20 years during which PACE providers have been serving many different types of people, families and communities.”

“We appreciate Rep. Walorski’s support of PACE,” said Stacey Newton, the executive director of  Saint Joseph PACE in Mishawaka, Ind. “The new PACE Final Rule will allow us to expand PACE more quickly to improve the lives of individuals whose health care needs make them eligible for nursing home care. By serving them in the community, PACE is able to dramatically impact their quality of life and the quality of life for their families.”

BACKGROUND

H.R. 6561 / S. 3338 would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to finalize updated regulations for PACE programs by the end of the year. PACE is a proven model for delivering high-quality, comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated community-based health care to seniors and individuals with disabilities who meet the criteria for nursing home care but wish to live at home. Currently, 124 PACE organizations across 31 states serve more than 45,000 people. St. Joseph Health System operates a PACE organization serving Hoosiers at a center in Mishawaka.

In November 2017 and June 2018, a bipartisan group of members of Congress sent letters urging CMS Administrator Seema Verma to prioritize updating the existing regulatory framework, which is more than a decade old. An updated rule was proposed nearly two years ago but has not been finalized.

The members called for changes to improve efficiency and increase flexibility, including:

  • Allowing PACE organizations to include community physicians as part of their hallmark interdisciplinary teams (IDT);
  • Decreasing the burden of expansion by allowing existing PACE organizations to open new PACE centers without an application;
  • Providing services in alternative settings, other than the PACE Center, to better respond to beneficiaries’ needs and preferences; and
  • Configuring the IDT to meet the needs of individual participants.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Votes for Bills to Lower Health Care Costs, Expand Patient Choice

Walorski Votes for Bills to Lower Health Care Costs, Expand Patient Choice

House Passes Legislation to Delay Health Insurance Tax, Modernize Health Savings Accounts

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today voted for two bills aimed at expanding consumer-directed health care and lowering premiums for individuals and families.

“With rising premiums and fewer options, Hoosier families need more affordable health care and more control over how they pay for it,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “These commonsense solutions will improve flexibility, expand consumer choice, and bring down costs. By delaying the costly health insurance tax and modernizing tax-advantaged health savings accounts, we are taking an important step to empower families and help ease the financial burden of health care.”

BACKGROUND

H.R. 6311, the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act, which passed the House by a vote of 242 to 176, would:

  • Make more individuals eligible for tax-advantaged health savings accounts (HSAs) and increase allowable contributions;
  • Allow flexible spending account (FSA) balances to be carried forward each year;
  • Allow anyone in the individual market to access lower cost “catastrophic” plans;
  • Make “bronze” and “catastrophic” plans eligible for an HSA; and
  • Delay Obamacare’s health insurance tax for an additional two years, providing relief from premium increases caused by the tax.

H.R. 6199, the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act, which passed the House by a vote of 277 to 142, would expand the range of qualified medical expenses, including allowing health savings account (HSA) funds to be used for over-the-counter medical products.

Walorski spoke on the House floor in support of the provision in H.R. 6311 that would delay the health insurance tax for two years. In May, Walorski helped introduce H.R. 5963, bipartisan legislation to delay the tax until after 2020.

Video of Walorski speaking on the House floor is available here. The full text of her remarks is below.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I rise in support of H.R. 6311, the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act.

“This important bill contains a two-year delay of the Health Insurance Tax, or HIT. Like the medical device tax, which the House voted yesterday to repeal, the HIT is yet another damaging tax from Obamacare. It raises premiums for families, small businesses, and seniors and the disabled enrolled in Medicare Advantage. In fact, the HIT could raise annual premiums for the typical Medicare Advantage couple by $500 if it returns in 2020.

“I’m a proud original cosponsor with Representatives Noem, Sinema, and Bera of HR 5963, which delays the HIT for two years, and I’m thrilled the bill we’re voting on today includes it.

“I look forward to the day when we can finally repeal this tax that falls on the backs of seniors, the disabled, small businesses, and hardworking families, but until then I urge my colleagues to support delaying it and I yield back.”

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Votes to Repeal Job-Killing Medical Device Tax

Walorski Votes to Repeal Job-Killing Medical Device Tax

House Passes Permanent Repeal of Tax That Puts Hoosier Jobs and Innovation at Risk

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today voted to repeal the job-killing medical device tax and protect Hoosier jobs in the innovative medical device manufacturing industry.

“Our economy is booming because of historic tax cuts and regulatory reforms, and we need to keep that momentum going,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “It’s time to end the medical device tax once and for all. Permanently repealing this job-killing tax will protect Hoosier workers and help patients access the life-saving medical technology they need.”

The House passed H.R. 184, the Protect Medical Innovation Act, which would permanently repeal the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device sales, by a vote of 283 to 132. Congress earlier this year suspended the tax through 2019. Walorski in December introduced H.R. 4617, which would have suspended the medical device tax for five years.

Video of Walorski speaking on the House floor in support of H.R. 184 is available here. The full text of her remarks is below.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I rise today in support of H.R. 184, the Protect Medical Innovation Act.

“This legislation will permanently repeal the job-killing medical device tax. Hoosiers are proud to be leaders in medical innovation, with more than 300 medical device manufacturers in our state that support nearly 55,000 jobs. These are high-paying jobs, with workers in the industry earning about $50,000 per year on average.

“However, after Obamacare’s medical device tax took effect, the industry lost almost 29,000 good-paying jobs nationwide from 2012 to 2015, according to Commerce Department data. That’s why Congress took bipartisan action in 2015 to suspend the tax for two years, and did so again earlier this year. But if it goes back into effect after 2019, it will impede new discoveries and stifle medical innovation while destroying good jobs.

“Right now, our economy is booming because of historic tax cuts and regulatory reforms, and we need to keep that momentum going. It’s time to end the medical device tax once and for all. Permanently repealing this job-killing tax will protect American workers and help patients access the life-saving medical technology they need.

“Mr. Speaker, the medical device tax would have a devastating impact on Hoosier workers and people from across the country who depend on these products. The Protect Medical Innovation Act will boost American innovation and manufacturing, and it will encourage medical research and development that make a real difference in people’s lives. I urge my colleagues to support this vital piece of legislation, and I yield back.”

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Votes to Send Health Care Bills to House Floor

Walorski Votes to Send Health Care Bills to House Floor

Ways and Means Committee Approves Measures to Expand Consumer Choice, Lower Costs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today voted in the Ways and Means Committee to send a series of health care bills to the House floor that would improve flexibility, expand consumer choice, and lower costs for families.

“With rising premiums and fewer options, Hoosier families need more affordable health care and more control over how they pay for it,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “These bills are all about flexibility, consumer choice, and bringing down costs. We are one step closer to helping families reduce the burdens of health care expenses and empowering them to better plan for the future.”

BACKGROUND

The Ways and Means Committee this week approved 11 bills aimed at expanding consumer-directed health care and lowering premiums for individuals and families.

The legislation included measures to expand and modernize tax-advantaged health savings accounts (HSAs), allow for an off-ramp from Obamacare’s rising premiums, provide retroactive relief from the burdensome employer mandate, and further delay the health care law’s costly “Cadillac tax.”

Walorski spoke at the committee markup about H.R. 6313, the Responsible Additions and Increases to Sustain Employee Health Benefits Act of 2018, which would allow balances in flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to be carried forward each year. The bill would repeal the “use-it-or-lose-it” rule that prohibits rolling over FSA balances. Video of Walorski’s remarks on H.R. 6313 is available here.

The committee approved the following bills for consideration on the House floor:

  • H.R. 6199 – reverses Obamacare’s prohibition on using tax-favored health accounts to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medical products and adds feminine or “menstrual care” products to the list of qualified medical expenses for the purposes of these tax-favored health accounts.
  • H.R. 6301 – expands access and enhances the utility of health savings accounts (HSAs) by offering health plans a certain amount of flexibility in their plan design while still maintaining eligibility for HSA contributions. This flexibility will allow insurers to offer coverage for high-value, low-cost services like telehealth, chronic disease management (e.g. diabetic testing strips), or primary care visits below the deductible.
  • H.R. 6305 – expands access and enhances the utility of HSAs through three common-sense improvements to the rules governing HSAs: (1) clarifying that certain employment related services (such as on-site clinics) are not treated as disqualifying coverage for purposes of HSAs; (2) allowing an eligible individual to make HSA contributions if a spouse has a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), provided that FSA does not also reimburse for expenses of the spouse with the HSA; and (3) allowing FSA and Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) terminations or conversions to fund HSAs.
  • H.R. 6317 –  allows HSA-eligible individuals that participate in a direct primary care (DPC) arrangement not to lose their HSA-eligibility merely because of their participation in a DPC. In addition, it allows DPC provider fees to be paid for out of HSAs.
  • H.R. 6312 – adds qualified sports and fitness expenses to the definition of qualified medical expenses.
  • H.R. 6309 – expands access to HSAs for working seniors.
  • H.R. 6306 – expands access and enhances the utility of HSAs by: (1) increasing the contributions limits for HSAs; (2) permitting spousal catch-up contributions into the same account; and (3) creating a grace period for medical expenses incurred before the establishment of an HSA.
  • H.R. 6314 – expands eligibility and access to HSAs by allowing plans categorized as catastrophic and bronze in the individual and small group markets to qualify for HSA contributions.
  • H.R. 6311 – provides an off-ramp from Obamacare’s rising premiums and limited choices by allowing the premium tax credit to be used for qualified plans offered outside of the law’s exchanges and Healthcare.gov. In addition, it expands access to the lowest-premium plans available (“catastrophic” plans) for all individuals purchasing coverage in the individual market and allows the premium tax credit to be used to offset the cost of such plans.
  • H.R. 6313 – allows balances in FSAs to be carried forward each year.
  • H.R. 4616 – provides retroactive relief from Obamacare’s employer mandate and one additional year of delay in the implementation of the law’s Cadillac tax.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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House Passes Walorski Opioid Bill Named for Hoosier Doctor

House Passes Walorski Opioid Bill Named for Hoosier Doctor

Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management, Treatment, and Recovery Act Would Address Opioid Epidemic by Improving Access to Non-Addictive Pain Treatments

WASHINGTON – The House today passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) to combat the opioid epidemic by improving access to non-opioid pain treatments. The bipartisan bill was named in honor of Dr. Todd Graham, the South Bend doctor who was shot to death last summer after refusing to write a prescription for opioid painkillers.

“The opioid epidemic continues to tear apart families and devastate communities all over the country,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “We all need to work together to find commonsense solutions to prevent and treat addiction. Before he was tragically killed, Dr. Todd Graham was leading the way in treating the underlying causes of pain rather than simply prescribing pills. The bipartisan legislation that just passed the House will help build on his legacy by breaking down barriers to non-opioid treatments and giving doctors better tools to prevent addiction and assist in recovery.”

The Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management, Treatment, and Recovery Act (H.R. 6110) passed the House unanimously by voice vote. Dr. Graham’s wife Julie was at the Capitol for the bill’s passage. Video of Congresswoman Walorski speaking on the House floor about the legislation is available here.

BACKGROUND

The House in recent days has passed dozens of bills to prevent opioid abuse, support addiction treatment and recovery, and combat the shipment and sale of illegal drugs. H.R. 6110 is an updated version of legislation Walorski introduced to reduce overprescribing of opioids by examining ways to expand the use of non-opioid alternatives in Medicare. The legislation was recently approved by the Ways and Means Committee.

Among other provisions, H.R. 6110 would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to study ways to improve access to non-opioid pain management treatments. HHS would solicit stakeholder feedback, conduct a study, and submit recommendations to Congress improving payment, coverage, and coding policies related to the use of multi-disciplinary, evidence-based non-opioid treatments for acute and chronic pain management for beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part A or B. The study would include an evaluation of possible coverage and payment barriers that prevent Medicare beneficiaries from accessing non-opioid alternative pain treatments and technologies.

H.R. 6110 also includes steps to improve treatment strategies and case management for various high-risk patient populations. It also includes other bipartisan provisions to ensure there are no misaligned financial incentives to prescribe opioids over non-opioid alternatives, and it provides best practices and educational resources for the expansion of addiction treatment for those suffering from mental or behavioral health issues, particularly in rural areas.

Todd A. Graham, M.D., a doctor with more than three decades of service, was shot and killed on July 26th, 2017, after refusing to prescribe an opioid painkiller to the shooter’s wife. Dr. Graham was a double board-certified physician in both Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski: We Are Taking Action to Fight Opioid Abuse

Walorski: We Are Taking Action to Fight Opioid Abuse

House Passes Dozens of Bills to Address Epidemic; Will Consider Walorski’s Legislation Named for Dr. Todd Graham

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today applauded the passage of dozens of bills in the House aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment, recovery, and law enforcement efforts.

Next week, the House will consider legislation Walorski introduced to improve access to non-opioid pain treatments. The bill is named for Dr. Todd Graham, the South Bend doctor who was shot to death after refusing to write a prescription for opioid painkillers.

“Opioid abuse is a crisis that affects every community in America, and we are taking action to help fight this epidemic,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “These commonsense solutions will help prevent opioid abuse, treat addiction, and support recovery so people can rebuild their lives. I look forward to continuing our work next week, when the House will consider my bipartisan legislation, named in honor of Dr. Todd Graham, that aims to fight the opioid crisis by expanding access to non-addictive alternatives to treat pain.”

BACKGROUND

The House this week passed more than two dozen bills to prevent opioid abuse, support addiction treatment and recovery, and combat the shipment and sale of illegal drugs. The measures approved by the House include legislation to:

  • Crack down on the shipment of illicit synthetic opioids into the U.S. from overseas (H.R. 5788 – Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act);
  • Prevent drug traffickers from circumventing the law by creating chemically-altered synthetic drugs (H.R. 2851 – Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act);
  • Support transitional housing for individuals recovering from opioid addiction (H.R. 5735 – THRIVE Act);
  • Help veterans access treatment for mental health or substance abuse issues (H.R. 2147 – Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act);
  • Expand peer-to-peer counseling for women veterans (H.R. 4635);
  • Encourage innovative research into non-addictive pain medications (H.R. 5002 – ACE Research Act); and
  • Reduce the number of unused prescription drugs at risk of misuse (H.R. 5041 – Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act).

Next week, the House will consider additional legislation to combat the opioid epidemic, including a bill Walorski introduced to expand access to non-opioid alternatives for pain treatment. The Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management, Treatment, and Recovery Act (H.R. 6110) aims to reduce overprescribing of opioids by examining ways to expand the use of non-opioid alternatives in Medicare

H.R. 6110 is an updated version of legislation introduced by Walorski and recently approved by the Ways and Means Committee. Among other provisions, it would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to study ways to improve access to non-opioid pain management treatments. HHS would solicit stakeholder feedback, conduct a study, and submit recommendations to Congress improving payment, coverage, and coding policies related to the use of multi-disciplinary, evidence-based non-opioid treatments for acute and chronic pain management for beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part A or B. The study would include an evaluation of possible coverage and payment barriers that prevent Medicare beneficiaries from accessing non-opioid alternative pain treatments and technologies.

Todd A. Graham, M.D., a doctor with more than three decades of service, was shot and killed on July 26th, 2017, after refusing to prescribe an opioid painkiller to the shooter’s wife. Dr. Graham was a double board-certified physician in both Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Opposes Cuts to Children’s Health Insurance Program

Walorski Opposes Cuts to Children’s Health Insurance Program

Votes Against Legislation That Would Cut CHIP Funding

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today voted against legislation that would cut funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which Congress recently extended for 10 years.

“Congress needs to make tough decisions to get our national debt under control, but fiscal responsibility should not come at the cost of children’s health care,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “I do not support cutting funding for CHIP just months after we passed the longest extension in the history of this vital program. I was also concerned that cutting funding to fight agricultural disease outbreaks would hurt family farmers who depend on these efforts. We must cut wasteful spending and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, but we must do so in ways that do not harm Hoosier families.”

BACKGROUND

Walorski voted against H.R. 3, which would cut $5.1 billion from the Children Health Insurance Fund and $148 million from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

In February, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act (H.R. 1892) with Walorski’s support. The legislation, which President Trump signed into law, established long-term funding levels and extended CHIP funding for 10 years.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Introduces Bipartisan Legislation Ensuring Patient Access to Critical Breakthrough Products

Walorski Introduces Bipartisan Legislation Ensuring Patient Access to Critical Breakthrough Products

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today joined Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) in introducing the Ensuring Patient Access to Critical Breakthrough Products Act of 2018 (H.R. 5997), a bill that would guarantee Medicare beneficiaries access to cutting edge medical innovation. The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), and Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.).

Currently, Medicare does not automatically cover the latest advances in medical technology. This is true even for medical devices that are approved through the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) expedited review process. The lag between FDA’s approval and Medicare’s coverage determination can take up to three years. The Ensuring Patient Access to Critical Breakthrough Products Act would require Medicare to cover all breakthrough products that are approved through the FDA’s expedited review process for three years. Within those three years Medicare must make a permanent coverage determination. For a medical device to earn the “breakthrough” designation the new technology must meet the following criteria:

  • provides more effective treatment or diagnosis of life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions;
  • has no approved alternatives;
  • offers significant advantages over existing approved alternatives; or
  • availability is in the best interest of patients.

“The best way to encourage life-saving medical innovation is to remove unnecessary barriers to patients getting the cutting-edge medical products they need,” Rep. Walorski said. “By allowing Medicare patients to access breakthrough technologies faster, the Patient Access to Critical Breakthroughs Act will expand treatment options for patients and open new doors for future innovative therapies and cures.”

“It makes no sense that Medicare drags it feet to cover cutting edge technologies especially when the FDA works to expedite their own review process for these same treatments. Seniors shouldn’t have to wait to access medical products that can change or even save their lives,” Rep. DelBene said. “The guaranteed coverage of these breakthrough technologies will also foster investment in the industry and which will yield greater advances in the future.”

“America’s medical device manufacturers and innovators are working every day to develop cutting-edge life-saving therapies and devices,” said Rep. Terri A. Sewell. “We must ensure that the review and approval process for breakthrough therapies doesn’t inhibit patient access to the most innovative and effective technologies coming to market. The introduction of the Ensuring Patient Access to Critical Breakthrough Products Act of 2018 is a step towards streamlining the regulatory process and ensuring that these devices reach the patients who need them in a timely manner.”

“This legislation will help millions of seniors on Medicare by ensuring more timely access to the treatments they need,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “Additionally, there are more than 600 medical device companies in our state working to develop innovative and effective products.  During a roundtable discussion in my district, I heard from many of these businesses about how these lengthy and unnecessary Medicare coverage delays create a significant barrier in bringing new products to market. This bill is about connecting patients with important devices and technologies more quickly. Additionally, it is about encouraging innovation rather than stifling it. Government has to get out of the way and streamline the payment process for effective new devices that can ultimately help improve and save lives.”

“I am proud to co-sponsor this bill, as it would streamline Medicare coverage for approved technologies that go through the FDA’s medical device review process. This would provide patients with timely access to life-saving innovations. It would also promote a more efficient regulatory ecosystem so that the roughly 1,700 medical device companies in California could continue to develop and innovate and spend more time taking care of customers in need,” said Rep. Cardenas.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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