Here is a review of what your government affairs team is hearing, and what we are telling our friends on the Hill and in federal agencies.
The Zombie Healthcare Bill
As you know, it failed to pass. The ACR and many other organizations weighed in against provisions that risked dropping insureds. The bill may be retooled. Meanwhile, the Trump administration may change the way it regulates Obamacare subsidies, mandates and other rules. On the positive side, the HHS stated that the Trump administration will continue to pay subsidies to insurance companies as the Obama administration did, despite Republican lawsuit against the payments. This would help keep insurance markets stable. Unfortunately, two days after that statement, the White House walked it back. As the debate continues, the ACR is ready to advocate for access to care and treatments with the Congressional committees and administration regulators.
Immigration & Visas
Remember the immigration ban? The judicial branch stopped it. Look for the Supreme Court to take up the case this summer.
Meanwhile, a separate immigration issue popped up. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security reduced the ability of international medical graduates (IMGs) to obtain H-1B visas this year. This is the visa that foreign doctors typically use to stay in the U.S. and work in underserved areas after completion of their residency and/or fellowship. Typically, potential employers of IMGs can pay to have the IMG’s visa processed quickly (yielding a yay or nay). Last week this priority processing was suspended for up to six months. It appears to be a move by President Trump to reevaluate the influx of predominantly IT workers, and doctors are caught in the crossfire. The ACR will be asking the administration to exempt doctors from this action. The ACR issued a statement the week of April 9 about this, while also praising Senators Klobuchar, Heitkamp and Collins for introducing a bill to allow foreign doctors to continue working after their residency in underserved areas.
In advance of the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in San Diego later this year, the ACR has created a section on its website to welcome international attendees in the spirit of global scientific collaboration and provide information on visa and travel.
The ACR’s Approach to Lowering Drug Prices: Biosimilars & Transparency
The ACR has developed a two-pronged approach to help lower the prices of the absurdly expensive drugs we prescribe. There is good news in each: