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Posted 9/4/2020

Prepared by Christopher Gallagher, OCC Washington Representative

Pandemic Relief Negotiations Break Down

During August, congressional leaders and the Trump Administration were unable to reach agreement on even the broad outlines of a pandemic relief package. This stalemate means that negotiations will likely resume in September once both the House and Senate return from their August recess.

During August, OCC groups continued to reach out to congressional leaders — urging them in an August 3rd letter to include the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act in any final pandemic relief package that receives congressional approval. OCC members can direct their advocates to the OAC’s Action Center to drum up support for this critical message!

OCAN Groups Meeting with CMS regarding TROA

On August 17, 2020, several member groups of the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) met with key staff within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to yet again discuss Medicare coverage policy surrounding anti-obesity medications (AOMs) and intensive behavioral therapy (IBT) services.

The August 17th meeting was the latest in a series of meetings with the agency throughout the past few years to persuade CMS to exercise its administrative authority to eliminate the Medicare Part D prohibition on FDA-approved AOMs and broaden the agency’s narrow coverage policy surrounding IBT services for obesity.

While applauding CMS for many of the extraordinary steps in healthcare policy that the agency has taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, OCAN leaders urged CMS to do more — especially surrounding obesity given that it is the second greatest risk factor, after older age, for hospitalization among COVID-19 patients. While CMS did express some interest in revisiting its national coverage decision related to IBT services for obesity, the agency was less enthusiastic about lifting the Part D prohibition on obesity drugs. Following the meeting, OCAN groups provided CMS staff with several resources regarding costs savings associated with implementing TROA.

OMA and ASMBS Oppose Divisive Surprise Billing Legislation

On July 29, 2020, the OMA and ASMBS signed on a letter to Congressional leaders that was organized by the American Medical Association and signed by 114 state medical societies and national specialty organizations opposing efforts to include surprise medical billing provisions in the new COVID-19 relief legislation under discussion in Congress. The letter makes the point that legislation to address the current public health emergency is not the appropriate vehicle or time to address this issue when agreement in significant outstanding issues surrounding surprise billing remains elusive.

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