DW blog: The First 100 Days

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Trump pick for FDA confirmed

May 10, 2017
Scott Gottlieb, MD, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Senate voted 57-42 in favor of confirmation. Dr. Gottlieb, an internist, served as deputy commissioner of the FDA under President George W. Bush.


Obamacare repeal clears House, heads to Senate

 May 4, 2017 

In a vote of 217-213, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed a revised American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would repeal and replace certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The AHCA now moves to the Senate, where its future is uncertain. 

While the AADA has neither endorsed nor opposed the AHCA in its entirety, it has expressed its opposition to the legislation’s repeal of the tax on indoor tanning services built into the ACA. A number of other organizations also joined the AADA in voicing their opposition to the repeal of this tax. 

As the AADA continues considering the AHCA and any revisions made to it in the Senate, it will do so in light of the AADA’s principles for health system reform. At the root of these principles is the commitment to preserving the patient-physician relationship.


Pick for FDA moves forward

April 27, 2017

The Senate HELP Committee has voted 14-9 to advance Scott Gottlieb, MD ― President Trump’s nomination for commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Dr. Gottlieb, an internist, served as deputy commissioner of the FDA under President George W. Bush. The full Senate will now vote on Dr. Gottlieb’s nomination. However, a date has not been set for the vote yet.


Obamacare repeal dropped, leaving tanning tax in place

March 24, 2017

After two dramatic days that both saw the promise of a vote in the House of Representatives followed by the abandonment of that vote, President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pulled the American Health Care Act from consideration this afternoon, conceding that the bill did not have enough support to pass. Ryan indicated that "Obamacare will be the law of the land for the foreseeable future," while Trump promised that he would be willing to work with Democrats but warned that Obamacare would "explode" and have a "very bad year."

For the time being this means that the indoor tanning tax, which became law with the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, remains in place.


Cancer advocates oppose Trump research cuts, tanning tax repeal

March 23, 2017

The members of the One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC) coalition, which includes the American Academy of Dermatology Association, has sent a letter to the chairs of the House Appropriations and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committees opposing cuts to research included in President Donald Trump's budget proposal. The letter notes that the proposed $5.8 billion cut to National Institutes of Health funding could cut "set funding levels back nearly 20 years." Trump's fellow Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has already indicated that the Senate will not go along with cuts to medical research.

OVAC also sent a letter opposing the repeal of the 10 percent tax on indoor tanning that would occur if the American Health Care Act becomes law. "The tanning tax appropriately reflects the carcinogenic effects of indoor tanning," the 27 members of the coalition wrote. "With our shared commitment in the fight against cancer, our organizations respectfully ask for your support in maintaining and preserving the tax on indoor tanning services."


AHCA moves forward

March 16, 2017
The House Budget Committee has voted 19 to 17 to move the American Health Care Act (AHCA) ― legislation that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ― forward to the House of Representatives. All 14 of the Democrats on the Committee voted against moving the bill forward and were joined by three Republican members: Reps. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Dave Brat (R-Va.), and Gary Palmer (R-Ala). The AHCA will now be considered and finalized in the House Rules Committee and will then go to the full House of Representatives.


President Trump picks HHS deputy secretary

March 15, 2017
President Trump has announced his intent to nominate Eric D. Hargan, JD, to serve as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Hargan is a shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, in its Health and FDA Business practice. He previously served as deputy general counsel, principal associate deputy secretary, and acting deputy secretary of HHS under the George W. Bush Administration. Hargan’s nomination will require a Senate confirmation.


White House picks lead for FDA

March 10, 2017
President Trump has nominated Scott Gottlieb, MD, to lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  In the past, Dr. Gottlieb has stated that administrative red tape is preventing competition in the drug manufacturing industry, and if confirmed, he would likely have an integral role in President Trump’s efforts to speed up the drug-approval process.

Dr. Gottlieb has a medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and did his residency in internal medicine at the Mount Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Gottlieb previously served as a deputy commissioner of the FDA under President George W. Bush.


House Committee votes in favor of indoor tanning tax repeal

March 9, 2017
Committee markups on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) ― legislation that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ― have begun. The House Ways and Means Committee has already approved its reconciliation recommendations to repeal the ACA. Specifically, the Committee voted 24-15 along party lines to repeal the indoor tanning tax on services performed after Dec. 31, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the repeal of the indoor tanning tax will result in a $600 million revenue loss over the 2017 to 2026 period. The Energy and Commerce Committee markup is ongoing.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association recently sent a letter to congressional leaders opposing the provision in the AHCA that calls for the repeal of the indoor tanning tax. Read more about the AADA's letter in the March 8 post on DW's First 100 Days blog. 


AADA opposes indoor tanning tax repeal

March 8, 2017
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) has sent a letter to congressional leaders opposing the repeal of the indoor tanning tax. Among several provisions, the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act ― the American Health Care Act (AHCA) ― would repeal the indoor tanning tax.

In the letter, AADA President Henry Lim, MD, states, “With an epidemic of skin cancer which has grown to more than 4 million in number annually, dermatologists have made it a priority to advance public policies that promote prevention and education about skin cancer and the dangers of indoor tanning. By helping to raise awareness of the dangers of indoor tanning, the tax also can serve as a deterrent to help mitigate the risks associated with indoor tanning which are often not shared with customers of indoor tanning facilities.” According the Congressional Budget Office, repealing the indoor tanning tax will add $800 million to the federal deficit.

Other health care groups are lining up to oppose the AHCA. Citing concerns over the reduction in health care coverage, the American Medical Association sent a letter to congressional leaders opposing the legislation. Additionally, the American Hospital Association has stated that the process should not advance until the Congressional Budget Office has estimated the cost of the legislation.

Read more about the AADA’s position on this and other issues in Dermatology World.


Senate confirms Tom Price for HHS Secretary

Feb. 10, 2017
The U.S. Senate has voted (52-47) to confirm Dr. Tom Price as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under President Donald Trump. Dr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon, previously served as congressman for Georgia’s 6th district and as House Budget Committee chair and would be the first physician to serve as secretary of HHS in nearly 25 years. Dr. Price has worked on issues affecting dermatology, such as Medicare payment reform, shortening EHR reporting periods, and ensuring that the MACRA transition included opportunities for physicians to avoid penalties. Dr. Price has also demonstrated a commitment to decreasing over-burdensome regulations associated with EHR, MACRA, and quality reporting.

In other confirmation news, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Seema Verma, President Trump's pick for CMS administrator, next week.


Indoor tanning tax: Should it stay or should it go?

Jan. 9, 2017
As members of Congress inch closer to repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), questions remain on whether or not to repeal the taxes implemented as part of the law. There are roughly 21 new or increased taxes folded into the ACA ― including the 10 percent excise tax on indoor tanning. The debate hinges on whether Congress should scrap the entire bill including all the taxes ― leaving little revenue in place to cover the subsidies for those insured under the ACA until a replacement plan is put in place ― versus keeping the taxes in place for a larger tax reform effort down the road.


The fate of indoor tanning restrictions

Jan. 6, 2017
The House Freedom Caucus ― made up of roughly 35 Republican members of Congress including Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget ― has issued a list of 200 rules and regulations that President-elect Trump should remove within his first 100 days in office. Item 74 on the Caucus’s list of regulations to remove is the “restricted use of sunlamp products” which the Caucus estimates would cost $1.126 billion. Read more about this regulation.


Tentative hearing scheduled for Dr. Price nomination

Jan. 3, 2017
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has set a tentative date for a hearing for Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-Ga.) ― President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ― on Jan. 18. However, the hearing date will not be officially announced until one week before it is definitively scheduled to occur. This is would be a courtesy hearing, as it is the Senate Finance Committee that will ultimately vote on the nomination.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) has had a long-standing relationship with Dr. Price, who was a featured speaker at the AADA's 2012 Legislative Conference. The AADA has worked with him on issues such as Medicare payment reform, shortening EHR reporting periods, and ensuring that the MACRA transition included opportunities for physicians to avoid penalties.

Similarly, Seema Verma, President-elect Trump’s choice for CMS administrator, can anticipate a confirmation hearing in the near future. Although a date for her hearing has not been publicly floated, the Senate Finance Committee indicates that it has received three years of tax returns and completed questionnaires from both Dr. Price and Verma.


Congress names top Democrat for House W&M Committee

Dec. 6, 2016

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has been selected as Ranking Member on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax- and revenue-related issues. Specific to dermatology, the Committee would be responsible for addressing a repeal of the 10 percent indoor tanning tax, and would likely play a role in any efforts to reform Medicare and/or repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.