Walorski Urges HHS Secretary to Improve Communication Between State Opioid Databases
Secretary Azar Calls PDMP Interoperability “Vital Issue” in Fight Against Opioid Epidemic
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today urged Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to examine ways to improve communication among state prescription drug monitoring databases (PDMPs) in order to better prevent opioid overprescribing and identify patients in need of addiction treatment.
“While state PDMPs are important, they have trouble with a group of patients that either live across a border in Michigan, or they’re around the entire U.S. for various reasons,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “Having up-to-date patient information would empower providers to deny inappropriate treatments or recommend addiction treatments to be started based on what they discover.”
Secretary Azar, a Hoosier who was recently sworn in as HHS secretary, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee about President Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal for the department.
State PDMPs are electronic databases of prescriptions of controlled substances, including opioids, that help prevent overprescribing and deter drug abuse. However, data-sharing among states is inconsistent.
At a recent subcommittee hearing, Walorski questioned HHS and CMS officials about efforts to identify and prevent fraudulent prescribing practices that fuel the opioid crisis.
Walorski today also asked Secretary Azar to consider an innovative solution to reduce Medicare bad debt claims and help Medicare patients pay their medical bills. In October, she introduced H.R. 3920 to expand the use of interest-free, third-party payment arrangements to improve Medicare patients’ access to care and help ease the financial burden of costly hospital bills.
Video of Walorski questioning Azar at today’s hearing is available here. A transcript of their exchange is below.
REP. WALORSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Secretary, my fellow Hoosier, it’s good to see you, welcome. I wanted to add my yes and amen to my colleague Representative Paulsen’s comments about opioids, non-opioid alternatives, getting insurance companies to be able to cover these things, and I’ve already heard you out.
For the sake of time, I wanted to mention one other thing that I look forward to discussing with you. The budget proposes reforming Medicare payments related to bad debts. I have a piece of legislation, H.R. 3920, that would require CMS to implement a three-year demonstration program to study the use of interest-free payments under Medicare Part A. I have a hospital in my district that has implemented this concept of interest-free payments and have seen improved patient satisfaction, improved health outcomes, and a reduction of bad debts.
Is that something you’re willing to work with, interest in, trying to come up with that kind of a model?
SEC. AZAR: Sure, I’d be happy to learn more about that, I had not been familiar with that model.
REP. WALORSKI: And my other question is this. A group of doctors in my district have expressed to me the need to fund the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting – it’s called NASPER – program. They feel this program provides them with a complete past medical history regarding prescriptions on controlled medications. While state PDMPs are important, they have trouble with a group of patients that either live across a border in Michigan or they’re around the entire U.S. for various reasons. Having up-to-date patient information would empower providers to deny inappropriate treatments or recommend addiction treatments to be started based on what they discover.
Does funding NASPER help provide funding resources for interoperability between these PDMPs so providers better identify patients at risk for addiction, especially those patients who do not live within a state’s border? Do you have other suggestions on how you think we can empower providers to identify at-risk patients?
SEC. AZAR: So the budget actually does propose requiring the state prescription drug monitoring programs, and I believe there may be something, I want to get back to you on this, around the interoperability across state lines, because that is a vital issue, I just cannot remember but I think there’s something in our budget about that.
REP. WALORSKI: Thank you so much. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Walorski Statement on Budget Agreement That Fully Funds Military
Congress Passes Long-Term Budget to Rebuild Military, Combat Opioid Epidemic, Help Hoosier Families Thrive
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today released the following statement after voting to send President Trump a long-term budget agreement that fully funds the military, provides resources to combat the opioid epidemic, and advances evidence-based solutions to help Hoosier families thrive:
“Years of irresponsible and arbitrary defense cuts have jeopardized our national security, diminished our military readiness, and endangered our troops in the field. It’s time for that to end.
“Today we are delivering on our promise to rebuild the military and get our brave servicemen and women the tools, training, and support they need to keep our nation safe.
“We are also making critical investments to combat the opioid epidemic, as well as advancing commonsense solutions to help Hoosier families achieve the American Dream. This bill is far from perfect, but it is a necessary step as we continue working with President Trump to build a stronger and safer country.”
The House passed the Bipartisan Budget Act (H.R. 1892) by a vote of 240 to 186. The legislation, which establishes long-term funding levels and includes an extension of current funding through March 23, passed the Senate earlier Friday and now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.
The Bipartisan Budget Act ensures the military is fully funded at levels consistent with the fiscal year (FY) 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) so our servicemembers have the tools, equipment, and training necessary to keep the nation safe. It includes a 2.4 percent raise for our troops – their biggest pay increase in eight years – as well as an increase in active duty, national guard, and reserve forces and additional resources to close the readiness gap.
Defense funding will increase by $80 billion this year and $85 billion next year, unwinding the sequestration cuts that jeopardized our national security. The House previously passed defense funding at FY18 NDAA levels, but the legislation was repeatedly blocked in the Senate.
President Trump expressed strong support for the budget agreement, and Defense Secretary James Mattis stated it “will ensure our military can defend our way life, preserve the promise of prosperity, and pass on the freedoms you and I enjoy to the next generation.”
Includes an additional $4 billion to reduce the maintenance backlog at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities.
Provides $6 billion over two years to combat the opioid epidemic through grants, prevention programs, and law enforcement efforts.
Community Health Centers
Extends funding for community health centers – which take an innovative, patient-focused approach to ensure vulnerable and underserved populations have access to quality, affordable health care – for two years. In November, the House passed the CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act (H.R. 3922) to fund CHIP, community health centers, and other important public health priorities.
Home Visiting Program
Extends the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program for five years, with additional flexibility for states and new requirements to ensure it remains an effective, evidence-based program. In September 2017, the House passed the Increasing Opportunity through Evidence-Based Home Visiting Act (H.R. 2824).
Extends the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 10 years – an additional four years beyond the reauthorization Congress recently passed into law.
Interstate Foster Care
Includes bipartisan legislation Walorski introduced to speed up interstate foster care placement. In June 2017, the House passed the Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act (H.R. 2742), which would help states move to an electronic system for foster care placement and adoptions across state lines in order to reduce the delays and costs of paperwork.
Social Impact Partnerships
Includes the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (H.R. 576), legislation sponsored by Walorski to support innovative, evidence-based solutions through social impact partnership programs that deliver results.
Seniors’ Health Care
Protects seniors’ access to health care by repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created under Obamacare. In November 2017, the House passed the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Care Act (H.R. 849) to prevent the board of unelected bureaucrats from cutting Medicare.
Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Walorski Votes to Fully Fund Military, Renew Community Health Centers
House Passes Bill to Keep Government Open, Provide Full Year of Defense Funding, Extend Community Health Centers for Two Years
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today released the following statement after the House passed legislation to fully fund the Department of Defense for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2018, extend funding for community health centers for two years, and keep the government open:
“For too long, our troops have been forced to operate under a cloud of uncertainty because long-term military funding has been stuck in the Senate. This bill gives our armed forces the resources necessary to keep us safe. It’s time to give our men and women in uniform the tools, training, and support they need – as well as the pay raise they’ve more than earned.
“Community health centers play an essential role in serving our most vulnerable neighbors, which is why I’ve worked to renew funding for these health care providers. This bill extends funding for two years so Hoosiers who rely on community health centers continue to have access to quality, affordable health care.
“The faster we can place vulnerable children in stable homes through foster care and adoption, the better chance they will have to thrive and succeed. This bill includes legislation I introduced to eliminate unnecessary paperwork in interstate adoptions and foster care placement to reduce excessive delays and help children lead better lives.
“The bill we passed will keep our nation safe, help Hoosier families, and keep the government open, and I hope the Senate does the responsible thing and quickly sends it to the president’s desk.”
The House passed the Further Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892), which provides funding through March 23, 2018, by a vote of 245 to 182.
Full-Year Military Funding
The bill includes $659.2 billion for the Department of Defense through the end of FY 2018 to provide the military with the resources, tools, and training necessary to keep the nation safe. The funding includes a 2.4 percent raise for servicemembers – their biggest pay increase in eight years – as well as an increase in active duty, national guard, and reserve forces.
The House has previously passed defense funding for the full fiscal year consistent with the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including passage last week of H.R. 695, but the legislation has been repeatedly blocked in the Senate.
Community Health Centers
The bill extends funding for community health centers for two years. The Community Health Center Fund supports thousands of community health centers nationwide, including local providers like HealthLinc, Indiana Health Centers, and Heart City Health. These centers take an innovative, patient-focused approach to ensure vulnerable Hoosiers and those in underserved areas have access to quality, affordable health care.
Walorski supported the CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act (H.R. 3922) when it passed the House in November. This legislation included funding for the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), community health centers, and other important public health priorities.
Congress passed a long-term reauthorization of CHIP in the short-term funding bill President Trump signed into law on January 22, 2018.
Helping Children and Families
The bill includes bipartisan legislation Walorski introduced to speed up the process of placing children with foster families in other states. The Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act (H.R. 2742), which would help states move to an electronic system for interstate foster care placement in order to reduce the delays and costs of paperwork, previously passed the House in June 2017 by voice vote.
The bill also includes the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (H.R. 576), legislation sponsored by Walorski to support innovative, evidence-based solutions through social impact partnership programs that deliver results.
Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Walorski Votes to End Government Shutdown
Congress Passes Bill to Reopen Government, Suspend Job-Killing Tax, Reauthorize CHIP for Six Years
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today voted to send the president legislation that ends the government shutdown, suspends the job-killing medical device tax for two years, and reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years.
“After Senate Democrats held the government hostage over an unrelated immigration issue for three days, a bill to end the government shutdown is finally on its way to the president’s desk,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “Not only does this bill allow our military to resume full maintenance and training operations, it also protects Hoosier jobs from the medical device tax and ensures millions of kids continue to have health coverage through CHIP. This shutdown was irresponsible and unnecessary, and I’m glad it’s over. I hope congressional Democrats will leave these partisan games behind so we can work together for the American people.”
The House today passed an amended version of H.R. 195, the Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, by a vote of 266 to 150. The bill, which passed the Senate earlier Monday, would extend government funding through February 8, 2018, as well as suspend the medical device tax for two years and renew CHIP funding for six years. The bill now heads to President Trump to be signed into law.
The House last week passed nearly identical legislation extending government funding through February 16, 2018, but Senate Democrats blocked the bill, leading to a three-day partial shutdown of the federal government.
Congresswoman Walorski in December introduced H.R. 4617, which would suspend for five years the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device sales enacted under Obamacare. Congress in 2015 delayed the tax through 2017. The House has also passed legislation to permanently repeal the tax.
Statement from Indiana Republican Members of Congress on Funding Bill
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Jackie Walorski (IN-02), Jim Banks (IN-03), Todd Rokita (IN-04), Susan Brooks (IN-05), and Larry Bucshon, M.D., (IN-08) today released the following statement after the House passed legislation to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), suspend the medical device tax, and keep the government open:
“The House took action to stop the job-killing medical device tax, extend CHIP for six years, and provide critical funding for our military. Now Senate Democrats have a choice: they can protect Hoosier jobs, fund children’s health care, and support our troops, or they can shut the government down. This shouldn’t be a difficult decision to make. We hope they side with Hoosier workers and families by rejecting a politically-motivated government shutdown.”
The House on Thursday passed H.R. 195, the Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, by a vote of 230 to 197. The bill would extend government funding through February 16, 2018, suspend the medical device tax for two years, and renew CHIP funding for six years.
Walorski Supports Funding Bill with Medical Device Tax Relief, CHIP Reauthorization
Bill Suspends Job-Killing Tax, Extends CHIP for Six Years, Averts Government Shutdown
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today released the following statement after voting to suspend the job-killing medical device tax for two years, reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years, and avert a government shutdown that would damage military readiness and put servicemembers at risk:
“Obamacare’s medical device tax is a proven job-killer, especially in northern Indiana. That’s why I fought to include a two-year suspension of the tax in this bill. It will provide relief to local manufacturers, protect Hoosier jobs, and allow Congress to get back to work on a full and permanent repeal of the tax.
“The Children’s Health Insurance Program makes a real difference in people’s lives. This bill fully funds CHIP for six years – the longest extension in the history of the program – so Hoosier families who depend on it can have peace of mind that this program isn’t going away.
“Now that the House has taken action, it’s time for the Senate to send this bill to the president’s desk. A government shutdown would put our brave men and women in uniform at risk, and it would harm our national security. I hope Senate Democrats will put politics aside and pass this critical bill, because our soldiers should never be used as bargaining chips.”
The House passed H.R. 195, the Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, by a vote of 230 to 197. The bill extends government funding through February 16, 2018, suspends the medical device tax for two years, and extends CHIP funding for six years.
Congresswoman Walorski in December introduced H.R. 4617, which would suspend the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device sales for five years. Congress in 2015 delayed the tax for two years, but it is set to take effect once again in 2018. The House has also passed legislation to permanently repeal the tax.
2017 in Review:
Delivering on Our Promises
Last year, I worked with my colleagues in Congress and with President Trump to deliver on the promises we made to the American people. We made a lot of progress on the American people’s agenda. But we still have more to do, and I’m ready to get back to work. Now that 2018 is here, I couldn’t be more excited to start another year of fighting for Hoosiers and putting America on a stronger path.
As we get back to work in Congress, here are a few of the biggest wins of 2017:
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law.
Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That means hardworking Hoosiers at all income levels will be getting a tax cut. Middle-income Americans will be able to keep more of the money they earn. And businesses will be able to grow, invest, hire more workers, and raise wages.
Obamacare’s individual mandate was repealed.
As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the burdensome individual mandate penalty under Obamacare was repealed. That means no one will be forced to buy a health insurance plan they don’t want and can’t afford.
Our troops are getting a pay raise.
The bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act will give our troops their biggest pay raise in eight years and ensure they have the tools, training, and support they need to confront any threat. And it boosts investment in our Armed Forces after years of underfunding so the military can rebuild and keep our nation safe.
Congress took action to counter Iran and North Korea.
Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and continues to test ballistic missiles in violation of international law. North Korea is a menace that regularly threatens to destroy the United States and our allies with nuclear weapons. We have taken action to counter the growing threat these rogue regimes pose with robust and wide-ranging sanctions.
We passed reforms to hold the VA accountable.
We have a responsibility to the brave men and women who served this country in uniform. That’s why we passed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act into law. It will give the VA secretary important new tools to create a culture of accountability and ensure employees in VA facilities across the country put veterans first.
The House passed concealed carry reciprocity.
Americans don’t lose their Second Amendment rights when they cross state lines, and they shouldn’t lose their concealed carry rights either. I voted for the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and allow those qualified to carry a concealed firearm to do so in any state that allows it.
We rolled back burdensome regulations.
Under the previous administration, burdensome regulations were holding back our small businesses, farmers, and other job creators. Congress and President Trump worked together to roll back costly regulations, and the House passed bills like the REINS Act to rein in the bureaucracy and change how Washington works.
Walorski Introduces Bill to Provide Relief from Job-Killing Medical Device Tax
Obamacare Tax on Innovative Health Products Would Hit Hoosier Manufacturers, Destroy Jobs
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today introduced legislation to suspend Obamacare’s medical device tax for five years.
“The job-killing medical device tax would have a devastating impact on Hoosier workers and patients across the country who depend on life-saving medical innovation,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “I am committed to permanently ending this burdensome tax. As we continue working toward repeal, we must protect workers and patients by preventing it from taking effect.”
Walorski joined Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) in introducing H.R. 4617, which would provide relief for five years from Obamacare’s 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device sales. Congress in 2015 delayed the tax for two years, but it is set to take effect once again in 2018. The House has also passed legislation to permanently repeal the tax.
H.R. 4617 was among several bills introduced by members of the Ways and Means Committee aimed at protecting American families and job creators from Obamacare taxes set to take effect in 2018.
- H.R. 4618, introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), provides relief for two years from the tax on over-the-counter medications, expanding access and reducing health care costs by once again allowing for reimbursement under consumer-directed accounts.
- H.R. 4620, introduced by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), provides relief in 2018 from the Health Insurance Tax that drives up health care costs, if the insurer provides the plan holder with a premium rebate and delays the tax in 2019 for all insurers.
- H.R. 4619, introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), provides needed relief from the Health Insurance Tax, for 2 years for health care plans regulated by Puerto Rico.
- H.R. 4616, introduced by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), delivers three years of retroactive relief and one year of prospective relief from the harmful employer mandate paired with a one-year delay of the Cadillac Tax.
Walorski Testifies on Opioid Crisis Before House Subcommittee
Outlines Policy Priorities for Treating Chronic Pain and Ending Epidemic of Opioid Abuse
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health about the nationwide opioid epidemic and the related problem of chronic pain.
“Pain is the number one reason why Americans seek health care, the number one cause of disability, and costs the U.S. economy more than $600 billion in direct health care costs and lost productivity,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The veteran population is particularly impacted by the chronic pain crisis, with more than 50 percent of VA patients reporting chronic pain. We can reduce demand by more effectively treating chronic pain and providing better access to FDA-approved non-opioid pharmaceuticals, advanced medical devices, and integrated alternative therapies.”
At the hearing, Walorski outlined three policy priorities for addressing the related problems of opioid abuse and chronic pain: recognizing the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach to pain management; promoting cutting-edge research to encourage effective alternatives to opioids; and advancing best practices in pain management within Medicare.
Congress last year passed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, bipartisan legislation to address the nationwide opioid epidemic. Congresswoman Walorski served on the conference committee that negotiated the final bill, which included two provisions she authored. One requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to participate in state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), and the other allows the VA to use FDA-approved medical devices and other non-opioid therapies to treat chronic pain.
Walorski recently questioned Medicare’s top fraud prevention official at a Ways and Means Committee hearing about how safeguards failed to prevent a doctor in Indiana from prescribing more than $1 million in opioids to 108 patients under Medicare’s prescription drug program.
Video of Walorski testifying before the subcommittee is available here, and the text of her written testimony is below.
Thank you Chairman Burgess and Ranking Member Green for holding this hearing on the opioid crisis.
America is facing two inter-related public health epidemics: chronic pain and opioid addiction, misuse, and abuse. A long-term solution to the opioid epidemic will not be achieved without addressing the challenge of appropriately treating chronic pain.
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Pain is the number one reason why Americans seek health care, the number one cause of disability, and costs the U.S. economy more than $600 billion in direct health care costs and lost productivity. The veteran population is particularly impacted by the chronic pain crisis, with more than 50 percent of VA patients reporting chronic pain.
Thousands of lives are lost to both opioid-related overdose and chronic pain-related suicide. Furthermore, 80 percent of heroin users started with prescription opioids. Reducing the supply of or access to opioids will not by itself solve this crisis. We can reduce demand by more effectively treating chronic pain and providing better access to FDA-approved non-opioid pharmaceuticals, advanced medical devices, and integrated alternative therapies.
As we look to develop policy, we should:
- Recognize the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach to pain management as a key component of overcoming the opioid crisis. Chronic pain is a pervasive and largely unaddressed public health crisis. Solving it is a crucial part of solving the larger opioid epidemic.
- Promote cutting-edge pain research to encourage effective opioid alternatives. High-quality evidence is urgently needed to help clinicians and patients make informed decisions about how to manage chronic pain safely and understand the causes and mechanisms of chronic pain.
- Advance best practices in pain management within Medicare. In 2016, one in three Medicare Part D beneficiaries received a prescription opioid. The GAO should conduct a study of the coverage options offered within Medicare for evidence-based pain management as an alternative to opioid prescriptions. Also, there should be a review of the Graduate Medical Education program’s training and education of providers on pain management and opioid prescriptions.
I hope these ideas will be helpful for in future policy discussions to reduce the abuse of opioids in our communities. Thank you for the time, and I yield back.
The Medicare enrollment period is coming up, and we want to help answer your questions.
On October 10th, 11th, and 17th, a member of my staff and a Medicare specialist from Indiana’s State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) will hold “Medicare 101” educational sessions throughout the 2nd District to answer questions about Medicare.
Medicare is a sacred commitment we have made to our seniors, and part of keeping that promise is ensuring Hoosiers have all the information they need to secure their benefits.
The “Medicare 101” events will take place in Elkhart, Goshen, La Porte, Plymouth, South Bend, and Wabash.
If you are at or near retirement or are a caregiver for a Medicare beneficiary and you want to learn more about the program, I encourage you to attend our “Medicare 101” educational sessions to learn the basics of Medicare and have your questions answered by experts.
Information about the “Medicare 101” sessions can be found below:
Tuesday, October 10th, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET
Wabash Public Library
188 West Hill St.
Wabash, IN 46992
Tuesday, October 10th, 4:00 – 5:45 p.m. ET
Plymouth Public Library
Laramore Room A
201 North Center St.
Plymouth, IN 46563
Wednesday, October 11th, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET
The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center
900 W. Western Ave.
South Bend, IN 46601
Wednesday, October 11th, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET (1:00 – 3:00 p.m. CT)
La Porte Park & Recreation
250 Pine Lake Ave.
La Porte, IN 46350
Tuesday, October 17th, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET
Elkhart Public Library
300 S. Second St.
Elkhart, IN 46516
Tuesday, October 17th, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET
Goshen Public Library
601 S. 5th St.
Goshen, IN 46526