General Legislative

Tomorrow, April 9, the House will meet at 2:00 pm for legislative business.  Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules will include: (1) H.R. 254 – Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act; (2) H.R. 291 – Black Hills Cemetery Act; and (3) H.R. 1033 – American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act of 2013.  On Wednesday, April 10, and for the balance of the week, the House will meet to consider (1) H.R. 678 – Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (Subject to a Rule); and (2) H.R 1120 – Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule).  Last votes are expected no later than 3:00 pm on Friday.

The Senate will convene today, April 8, at 2:00 pm and begin a period of morning business. 
 


Agriculture and Food

Legislative Activity

  • Farm Bill Markup.  Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is looking to schedule a Farm Bill markup for the week of April 15 or April 22, according to a Senate aide. 
  • Immigration Reform.  The Senate plans to release its comprehensive immigration legislation as early as this week.  However, details have not yet been finalized for an agricultural worker program that would aim to create a more permanent farm workforce.  Growers and labor groups have been negotiating an agricultural worker program that would provide a faster track to citizenship (3 to ten years) than that for other undocumented workers (10 years), but the two sides still have to agree on wages and visa numbers.

    Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is helping lead agricultural worker negotiations and is a key member of the “Gang of 8,” has demanded public hearings on immigration.  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in response said that once the proposal is introduced, he will consider scheduling a hearing to examine the legislation.

    It remains unclear when the House will release its immigration bill or how it will address agricultural workers, although Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) has expressed renewed optimism that Republicans in both Chambers are now endorsing a path to citizenship.  It appears that the delay in the House is not one of timing, but that Members are still working through substantive issues.
  • This Week’s Hearings.
  • On Friday, April 12, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and FDA will hold a hearing on the “FY 2014 Appropriations: Agriculture, Rural, FDA.”

Contact Information


For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the authors of this section: Dana Weekes at 202-457-6307 or dweekes@pattonboggs.com, and Karen Kudelko at 202-457-5132 or kkudelko@pattonboggs.com.


 Budget, Appropriations and Sequestration

  • OMB Provides Additional Sequestration Guidance to Agencies.  On April 4 the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provided additional sequestration implementation guidance to federal agencies.  OMB acknowledges that “all non-exempt budget accounts in a given spending category must be reduced by a uniform percentage, and the same percentage reduction must be applied to all programs, projects, and activities (PPAs) within a budget account.”  However, OMB advises agencies to realign funds to protect long-term mission and operation priorities to the extent possible through reprogramming or transfer authority.  The memorandum also directs agencies to work with State, local and tribal governments to reduce administrative burdens in an effort to alleviate some of the impact of sequestration.
  • President’s FY 2014 Budget Proposal.  The President’s FY 2014 Budget Proposal will finally be delivered to Congress on Wednesday, April 10.  While typically viewed as a policy statement, this year, the President’s proposal will have even less impact on Capitol Hill because it comes weeks after the House and Senate each approved their own FY 2014 Budget Resolutions.  The President is expected to include a framework for $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years incorporating many of the components he proposed in his most recent “grand bargain” proposal.

    On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees on the FY 2014 Budget Proposal.
  • House Appropriations Committee Budget Hearings.  In addition to the hearings noted above, House Appropriations Subcommittees will continue to hold agency budget hearings this week.  Those currently scheduled include:
  • April 10 – United States Capitol Police; Chief Kim Dine (Legislative Branch Subcommittee)
  • April 11 – Department of Homeland Security; Secretary Janet Napolitano (Homeland Security Subcommittee)
  • April 11 – Department of Commerce; Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank (Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee)
  • April 12 – Drug Enforcement Administration; Administrator Michele Leonhart (Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee)
  • April 12 – Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Chairman Gary Gensler and Commissioner Scott O’Mailia (Agriculture Subcommittee)
  • The April 10 Commerce-Justice Science Subcommittee hearing on the budget for the Department of Justice’s budget with Attorney General Eric Holder has been postponed to April 18.  
  • Appropriations Programmatic and Language Request Deadlines.  Deadlines for House Members to submit FY 2014 programmatic or language requests to the appropriations subcommittees have been pushed to mid-April.  Senate deadlines are currently set for late April / early May.  NOTE: Deadlines for Members to receive requests from constituents generally fall one to two weeks prior to the subcommittee deadlines.
  • Nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell as OMB Director.  On Wednesday, the Senate Budget Committee will conduct a hearing on the confirmation of Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.  

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Pam Welsh, at 202-457-6493 or pwelsh@pattonboggs.com.
 


Cybersecurity

Legislative Branch Activity

  • Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).  This week, the House Intelligence Committee is planning to hold a closed mark-up of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).  Although the legislation has received support from business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, many privacy advocates are concerned about how customers’ personal information will be used and collected under the bill.  Last month, activists submitted over 300,000 online signatures to the House Intelligence Committee to rally public opposition to the bill and websites such as Facebook, Craigslist and Reddit have also spoken out against CISPA.  The bill that will be marked up this week is identical to the legislation that passed the House last April, which the White House threatened to veto.
  • Anti-Hacking Legislation.  The House Judiciary Committee is circulating a draft cybersecurity bill that would stiffen the penalties for cybercrimes and establish standards for companies to notify consumers when their personal data has been hacked.  Officials from civil liberties groups and other advocacy organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, FreedomWorks, and the Center for Democracy and Technology, have expressed concerns about the language included in the draft bill, stating that it would expand the scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to allow prosecutors to go after ordinary Internet users for violating a website’s terms of service or an employer’s computer policy.  The Committee will continue to work with stakeholders to get feedback on possible changes to the current language in the draft legislation.

Executive Branch Activity

  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework.  Last week, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted its first workshop to discuss the Cybersecurity Framework it was tasked with developing in the President’s Executive Order (EO) in February.  NIST intends to hold its second workshop on May 29-31 at Carnegie Mellon University and will also host two other workshops the weeks of July 15 and September 9 in locations that are still to be determined.  NIST also recently released a Request for Information (RFI) requesting feedback from stakeholders regarding the development of the Cybersecurity Framework.  Comments are due on Monday, April 8.
  • Department of Commerce Notice of Inquiry.  The Department of Commerce recently published a notice of inquiry that seeks industry comments on how best to incentivize companies to participate in the voluntary cybersecurity program included in the EO.  Comments on the notice of inquiry are due on Monday, April 29.  The Commerce Department intends to submit its recommendations to the White House by mid-June.
  • Cyber Command Rules of Engagement.  The Pentagon is in the process of finalizing rules of engagement that will clarify authorities for military commanders if they have to respond to an enemy cyber attack.  As part of this process, General Keith Alexander, Commander of U.S. Cyber Command, also stated that he plans to deploy 13 cyber-related national mission forces teams by September.  These cyber warrior teams will be capable of striking adversary networks to defend against cyber attacks on U.S. private computers.  Cyber Command intends to focus these resources on guarding power grids, financial institutions and other vital commercial services.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the authors of this section: Norma Krayem, 202-457-5206 or nkrayem@pattonboggs.com; or Amy Davenport, at 202-457-6528 or adavenport@pattonboggs.com.


Defense

Executive and Legislative Branch Activity

  • Pentagon Budget.  In his first major policy speech last week at the National Defense University, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said: "In many respects, the greatest long-term fiscal challenge facing the department is not the flat or declining topline budget, it is the growing imbalance in where that money is being spent internally."  The Secretary expressed his intentions to reduce layers of management in the civilian and uniformed bureaucracies, trim the proliferation of three- and four-star command offices, and downsize the number of people working in support functions.  President Obama is expected to release his proposed Fiscal Year FY 2014 Budget on April 10.  Consequently, Secretary Hagel will testify this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee on the Defense Authorization Request for FY 2014.  At the time of publication, the separate Senate and House Armed Services Committee hearings are slated for overlapping timeslots this Thursday.
  • This Week’s Hearings:
  • On Tuesday, April 9, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2014.
  • On Wednesday, April 10, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel will hold a hearing on Mental Health Research
  • On Thursday, April 11, the Senate Armed Services Committee and House Armed Services Committee are both scheduled to hold separate hearings will hold a hearing on the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2014.  Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey will testifyNote:  There is a scheduling conflict, with both hearings currently slated to be held at overlapping times in the morning.
  • On Thursday, April 11, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces will hold a hearing on Equipping the Individual Soldier and Marine: Current and Future Year Acquisition and Modernization Strategies and the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Request.
  • On Friday, April 12, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of the Air Force.

Regulatory Activity


  • DOD, GSA, and NASA have issued a proposed rule that would revise the FAR to clarify contractors' and subcontractors' responsibilities under Defense Base Act (DBA).  The DBA extends the federal workers' compensation protections provided by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act to workers performing under virtually any contract with an agency of the federal government for work outside the U.S.  The proposed rule would revise FAR § 52.228-3, Workers Compensation Insurance (Defense Base Act), to clarify the contractors' responsibilities, including the requirement to include flow-down of this clause to all subcontractors to which the Defense Base Act applies.  The comment period for the proposed rule, FAR Case 2012-016, Defense Base Act, ends on May 20.

Contact Information


For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the authors of this section: Stacy Swanson, at 202-457-5627 or sswanson@pattonboggs.com; and Mary Beth Bosco, at 202-457-6420 or mbbosco@pattonboggs.com.


Energy

Legislative Activity

  • Natural Gas.  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled three forums: “Infrastructure, Transportation, Research and Innovation,” specifically regarding pipeline infrastructure and increased natural gas use in the transportation sector, on May 16; “Domestic Supply and Exports” on May 21; and “Shale Development: Best Practices and Environmental Concerns” on May 23.  Witnesses for the forums have not yet been announced.
  • This Week’s Hearings:
  • On Tuesday, April 9, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider the nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz to be the next Secretary of Energy.
  • On Wednesday, April 10, a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on H.R. 3, to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • On Thursday, April 11, House Appropriations Subcommittees will hold oversight hearings on nuclear waste programs and strategies, and on the Bureau of Land Management’s budget request.
  • On Thursday, April 11, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on the President’s Budget, which is again expected to eliminate all the tax preferences available to the domestic oil and gas industry, as well as coal producers.

Regulatory Activity

  • CFTC Public Power Exemption.  The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) unanimously voted to exempt certain non-financial derivative transactions between and amongst public power utilities from most of the Commodity Exchange Act’s requirements.
  • Vegetation Management.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has published a final rule revising reliability standards for vegetation management near transmission lines.
  • National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee.  The Committee will meet on April 17-18 in New Orleans, to discuss the Recommended Standards for Accommodation Service Vessels, among other issues.  The Coast Guard is also requesting applications for appointments to the Committee; nominations are due by May 28.
  • Keystone XL.  The State Department will host a public meeting in Grand Island, Nebraska on April 18 as part of the public Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement review process on the proposed pipeline. 
  • Smart Grid.  The Smart Grid Advisory Committee will meet on April 19 to discuss the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Smart Grid Program Plan.
  • Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.  The Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee will meet on April 23-24.
  • Nuclear.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards will meet on April 23-25 in Rockville, Maryland.
  • Wireless Metering.  The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has requested comments by April 26 on the draft Wireless Power Meter Challenge Specification, which will set energy efficiency performance standards for commercial building electrical metering devices to help spur development of new technologies.
  • USEITI.  The United States Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Multi-Stakeholder Group Advisory Committee will hold a teleconference on Thursday, April 11 and a meeting on May 1-2 to review and approve the Terms of Reference, nominate and approve co-chairs, and receive a progress report and public comments.
  • Hydraulic Fracturing.  The Environmental Protection Agency’s Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory panel will meet May 7-8 in Arlington, Virginia and hold a public teleconference on May 16 to solicit additional public statements on EPA documents for consideration by the panel.
  • Shale.  The Bureau of Land Management has proposed a rule that would amend commercial oil shale management regulations issued under the Bush Administration in order to ensure a fair rate of return to the American taxpayer while encouraging federal shale resource development and protecting the environment.  Public comments must be received by May 28.
  • SEMS II Rule.  The Interior Department has issued a revised final rule updating the Safety and Environmental Management Systems final rule to further improve offshore drilling safety.  It will become effective on June 4.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Tanya DeRivi, at 202-457-6504 or tderivi@pattonboggs.com.


Environment

Legislative Activity

  • Forests.  On Thursday, April 11, the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation will hold a legislative hearing to mark up six bills, which will include:
  • Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act and Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act.  These two pieces of legislation aim to improve the economic stability of counties containing National Forest System land by ensuring that counties have a source of revenue from those lands.
  • Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act.  This legislation aims to address bark beetle epidemic, drought and risk of wildfires in the National Forest System.
  • Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2013.  This legislation would address forest health, public safety and catastrophic wildfire on National Forest System lands and public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  The legislation would require the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to expedite forest management projects relating to hazardous fuels reduction, forest health and economic development.
  • Oregon and California (O&C) Trust, Conservation and Jobs Act.  This legislation would enable National Forest land to provide for funding for Oregon’s rural schools, roads and law enforcement agencies.
  • Depleting Risk from Insect Infestation, Soil Erosion and Catastrophic Fire Act of 2013.  This legislation aims to improve response to insect infestations and related diseases, change funding sources for the Healthy Forests Reserve Program, codify end result contracting and good neighbor authorities and amend emergency watershed protection programs to improve post fire rehabilitation
  • Water Resources.  On Tuesday, April 16, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a hearing concerning a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

Regulatory Activity

  • Clean Fuels and Car Standards.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed fuel standards that aim to reduce pollution and improve efficiency in cars and trucks.  The proposed vehicle standards would aim to reduce both tailpipe and evaporative emissions from passenger cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles and some heavy-duty vehicles.  According to EPA, the proposed standards will reduce gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60 percent by 2017 and will enable vehicle emission control technologies to perform more efficiently.  EPA estimates that total health-related benefits will be between $8 and $23 billion annually by 2030.  The program is also expected to reduce exposure to pollution near roads.  More than 50 million people live, work or go to school in proximity to high-traffic roadways.  Comments are due 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register which is anticipated shortly.
  • Power Plants.  EPA has issued updates to pollution limits for new power plants under the mercury and air toxics standards, based on new information and analysis that became available to the agency after the rule was finalized.  The updated standards only apply to future power plants and do not change the types of pollution control technology that plants would install.  EPA’s mercury and air toxics standards are the first national standards in effort to protect the public from power plant emissions of mercury and toxic air pollution including arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium and cyanide.  Comments are due by May 17.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Sarah Vilms, at 202-457-5248 or svilms@pattonboggs.com.


Financial Services

Legislative Activity

  • House Financial Services Subcommittee to Examine Federal Housing Administration Reform.  On Wednesday, April 10, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on House and Insurance will hold a hearing titled, “Sustainable Housing Finance: Perspectives on Reforming the FHA.”
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee to Discuss Regulatory Burdens on Credit Unions.  On Wednesday, April 10, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit will hold a hearing titled, “Examining Credit Union Regulatory Burdens.”
  • Senate Banking Subcommittee to Address Independent Consultant Accountability Issues.  On Thursday, April 11, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing titled, “Outsourcing Accountability? Examining the Role of Independent Consultants.”  The hearing will be divided into two panels.  The first panel will include testimony from Mr. Daniel P. Stipano, Deputy Chief Counsel at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Mr. Richard M. Ashton, Deputy General Counsel of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.  The second panel will consist of Mr. Konrad Alt, Managing Director of the Promontory Financial Group, LLC and Mr. James F. Flanagan, Leader of the U.S. Financial Services Practice at Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP.
  • Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to Testify on the President’s FY 2014 Budget.  On Thursday, April 11, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will testify in front of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance regarding the President’s Budget for FY2014.
  • House Financial Services Subcommittee to Discuss Derivatives Proposals.  On Thursday, April 11, the House Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises will hold a hearing titled “Legislative Proposals Regarding Derivatives and SEC Economic Analysis.”
  • House Appropriations Subcommittee to Consider Commodity Futures Trading Commission Budget.  On Friday, April 12, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold hearing on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) budget.  The witnesses testifying at the hearing will be CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler and CFTC Commissioner Scott O’Malia.

 

Regulatory Activity

  • Securities and Exchange Commission to Host Compliance Outreach Program for Broker-Dealers.  On Tuesday, April 9, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will host, along with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a Compliance Outreach Program for broker-dealers.  The all-day program will include panelists from the private sector and regulatory agencies and will focus on the role that effective control functions play in ensuring compliance with ethical principles and current regulation in sales and trading practices, net capital considerations, and risk governance.
  • SEC to Explore Regulatory Authority Related to Risks of Identity Theft.  On Wednesday, April 10, the SEC will hold a meeting to consider whether to adopt new rules and guidelines, jointly with the CFTC, to require certain entities that are subject to the Commissions’ respective enforcement authorities to establish programs to address risks of identity theft.
  • SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee to Meet on Target Date Funds and Other Issues.  On Thursday, April 11, the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee will meet to consider the recommendation of the Investor as Purchaser Subcommittee on Target Date Funds.  The Investor Advisory Committee will also discuss subcommittee reports and other administrative matters.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Mara Giorgio, at 202-457-6522 or mgiorgio@pattonboggs.com.


Health Care

Legislative Activity

  • House Committees Detail SGR Repeal.  Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Ways and Means Committee today outlined additional details of a proposal to repeal the current Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) system and replace it with a fair and stable system of physician payment in the Medicare program.  The latest proposal provides further details and clarity on the three phases outlined in an earlier proposal released on February 7.  The current proposal specifies a process to reward providers for high-quality and efficient care in the fee for service (FFS) program.  The proposal also includes processes to determine quality and efficiency measures that focus on evidence while being flexible and specialty-specific, recognizes the role that specialty-specific registries play in facilitating quality improvement while minimizing provider participation burden, and addresses the need for timely performance feedback to allow providers to identify improvement opportunities and optimize incentive payments.
  • House Energy and Commerce Hearings.  The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday, April 9, on “Reauthorization of Animal Drug User Fees: ADUFA and AGDUFA.”  The Subcommittee will also meet on Thursday, April 11 for a hearing on “Strengthening Medicare for Seniors: Understanding the Challenges of Traditional Medicare’s Benefit Design.”
  • Senate Finance Hearings.  The Senate Committee on Finance has scheduled a nomination hearing on Tuesday, April 9 to consider the nomination of Marilyn B. Tavenner to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  The Committee will also hold a hearing on Thursday, April 11 on the President’s FY 2014 budget.
  • Senate HELP Hearing.  The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will meet in Executive Session on Wednesday, April 10 to consider S.__, Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013.
  • Senate Budget Hearing.  The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday, April 11 on the President’s FY 2014 Budget Proposal.

Regulatory Activity

  • IRS Posts Charitable Hospitals Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a notice of proposed rulemaking for community health needs assessments for charitable hospitals.  This document contains proposed regulations that provide guidance to charitable hospital organizations on the community health needs assessment (CHNA) requirements, and related excise tax and reporting obligations, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.  These proposed regulations also clarify the consequences for failing to meet these and other requirements for charitable hospital organizations.  These regulations will affect charitable hospital organizations.  Comments and requests for a public hearing must be received by May 3.
  • CMS Releases Navigator Proposed Rule.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Exchange Functions: Standards for Navigators and Non-Navigator Assistance Personnel Proposed Rule.  The proposed regulations would create conflict-of-interest, training and certification, and meaningful access standards applicable to Navigators and non-Navigator assistance personnel in Federally-facilitated Exchanges, including State Partnership Exchanges, and to non-Navigator assistance personnel in State-based Exchanges that are funded through federal Exchange Establishment grants.  These proposed standards would help ensure that Navigators and non-Navigator assistance personnel will be fair and impartial and will be appropriately trained, and that they will provide services and information in a manner that is accessible.  Comments on the proposed rule are due by May 3. 
  • 2014 Meaningful Use Eligible Hospital Clinical Quality Measure Update.  The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC Health IT) announced that beginning in 2014, the reporting of clinical quality measures (CQMs) will change for all providers.  EHR technology that has been certified to the 2014 Edition standards and certification criteria will have been tested for enhanced CQM-related capabilities, Eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) will be required to report using the new 2014 criteria regardless of whether they are participating in Stage 1 or Stage 2 of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs.  Although clinical quality measure (CQM) reporting has been removed as a core objective for both Eligible Professionals (EPs) and eligible hospitals and CAHs, all providers are required to report on CQMs in order to demonstrate meaningful use.  ONC Health IT states that eligible hospitals and CAHs must report on 16 of 29 approved CQMs.  These CQMs must cover at least 3 of the National Quality Strategy domains.  Also beginning in 2014, all Medicare-eligible providers beyond their first year of demonstrating meaningful-use must electronically report their CQM data to CMS.  Medicaid eligible professionals and hospitals that are eligible only for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program will electronically report their CQM data to their State.

Other Health News

  • IOM Meeting.  The Institute of Medicine will hold the first workshop of the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement on Tuesday, April 9.
  • MACPAC Meeting.  The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission has scheduled a public meeting on April 11-12.  Agenda items include adult dental services under Medicaid, the draft June report chapters on primary care payment increase, waivers, maternity care in Medicaid and CHIP, access for people with disabilities, program integrity and data.  The Commission will also hold sessions on State enrollment policies for Medicaid managed care and care coordination for people dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
  • RWJF Report on Medicaid Expansion.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released a report entitled “Financial Burden of Medical Spending by State and the Implications of the 2014 Medicaid Expansions.”  This report offers a detailed look at medical spending nationwide, and shows where Medicaid expansion could have the most impact on reducing financial burden.  The report finds significant differences amongst not just States, but also regions of the country.  Residents of the Mid-Atlantic States have the lowest out-of-pocket spending burden.  Those living in Mountain and East South Central states, in contrast, spend a greater percentage of their incomes on out-of-pocket costs and therefore have a higher burden.  Researchers also found that high medical spending for low-income populations vary more across States than for people with higher incomes.  The report finds that many factors may contribute to the considerable geographic variation, including the price of care, how frequently people access it, and the generosity of local safety-net programs.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Eugenia Edwards, at 202-457-5622 or eedwards@pattonboggs.com.


International

Executive and Legislative Branch Activity

  • Secretary of State Travel.  Last weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry departed for Istanbul, to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other senior Turkish leaders on a variety of subjects, including Syria.  The Secretary will be in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Monday and Tuesday, April 8 and 9, respectively.  In Jerusalem, he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu; in Ramallah, he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Abbas.  On April 10 and 11, Secretary Kerry will participate in the G-8 Foreign Ministers Meetings in London.  He is expected to have bilateral meetings on the margins.  On April 12-15, the Secretary travels to Northeast Asia, with planned stops in Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo.
  • North Korea.  Last Wednesday, North Korea (DPRK) again threatened a nuclear strike against the United States.  In response, the State Department noted this is just the latest in a long line of aggressive statements, which only serve to further isolate the DPRK.  Moving up a 2015 timeline, the United States shifted an advanced missile defense system to Guam, with the White House acknowledging North Korea's "warlike" stance presented a "real and clear danger".  South Korean media is speculating the North may be planning to fire a medium-range Musudan missile on April 15, the anniversary of the birth of former DPRK leader Kim Il-sung.  This week, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-California) is expected to introduce a bill that would attempt to cut off Pyongyang’s access to hard currency.
  • Syria.  After a possible chemical weapon attack was reported in Syria last week, the United States said it will provide technical assistance to a U.N. team that will investigate the allegation.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, April 9, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights will hold a hearing on Human Rights in China.  The Administration is not scheduled to testify.
  • On Thursday, April 11, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights will hold a hearing on Vietnamese Government Human Rights Violations in Advance of the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue.  The Administration is not scheduled to testify.
  • On Thursday, April 11, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittees on Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East and North Africa will hold a joint hearing on Breaking the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nexus.  The Administration is not scheduled to testify.
  • On Thursday, April 11, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere will hold a hearing on Energy Opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean.  State Department Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Carlos Pascual and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Matthew Rooney are scheduled to testify.

    NOTE: At the time of publication, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) had yet to post its hearing schedule for this week.  Please note President Obama is expected to release his FY 2014 Budget on Wednesday, April 10.  It is expected the SFRC and House Foreign Affairs Committee will schedule hearings on the President’s proposed FY 2014 Budget.  In light of Secretary Kerry’s travel, the hearings likely will not be scheduled until he returns to Washington on April 15.

Contact Information

For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the author of this section: Stacy Swanson, at 202-457-5627 or sswanson@pattonboggs.com
 


Transportation and Infrastructure

  • Implementing Sequestration.  Congress will be grappling with the impacts of the sequester next week, with a group of Senators led by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) introducing legislation to prevent the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from closing the list of air traffic control towers slated to be closed (or at least, to lose the FAA funding that had been keeping them open to this point) as a result of sequestration.  While the impacts on FAA and the nation’s airports and air traffic control system have been perhaps the highest profile impact of sequestration in the transportation space, other Department of Transportation (DOT) modal administrations are also grappling with the automatic reductions.  In particular, Peter Rogoff, Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), announced before the Easter Recess that he would be working with Secretary LaHood to develop a “methodology” for allocating the reduced Capital Investment Grants appropriation among New Starts projects with FTA funding commitments as well as Small Starts projects included in the President’s Budget.  This process is continuing.
  • Secretary of Transportation.  While neither the White House nor DOT have given any new indications, there is an increasing sense in the stakeholder community that the announcement of a new USDOT Secretary is likely to happen very soon.  As President Obama has rounded out most of his cabinet appointees, there is increasing sense that the time will be coming for the DOT announcement.  New speculation in recent weeks has focused on the Mayor of Charlotte, Anthony Foxx.  Charlotte hosted the most recent Democratic National Convention and the City has had successful light rail and streetcar expansions, in addition to being home to a major hub airport.  Adding fuel to the fire, Mayor Foxx announced on the morning of Friday, April 5 that he would not be seeking re-election in Charlotte.
  • Water Resources Development Act.  Before the Easter Recess, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) marked up and passed out of committee the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013 (S.601).  The legislation passed on a unanimous vote after the adoption of a Manager’s Amendment and series of en banc amendments, all of which dealt largely with narrow, technical issues.  During the mark-up, Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) indicated that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was supportive of moving the bill to the floor as quickly as possible, and that Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY) was also supportive of floor action on WRDA.  There is no word yet on when floor consideration will be scheduled, and the Senate is slated to take up other measures – including gun control legislation – immediately upon its return from recess.  In the interim period before floor consideration, key Senators are continuing to work on additions to the bill, including with respect to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.  The House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment has scheduled a hearing titled “The Foundations for a New Water Resources Development Act” for April 16th at 10:00am.
  • Implementing MAP-21: The House T&I Subcommittee on Highways and Transit has scheduled a hearing titled “Implementing MAP-21: The State and Local Perspective” for April 25th at 10:00am.  No witnesses had been identified as of the time of publication.


Contact Information
For additional insights about likely policy developments, please feel free to contact the authors of this section: Jessica Monahan at 202-457-6302 or jmonahan@pattonboggs.com and Jared Fleisher at 202-457-6341 or jfleisher@pattonboggs.com.