Patient Safety and Quality

State of Play:   On October 24, President Trump signed into law the “Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act” or the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act” (P.L. 115-271), which passed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority in Congress.   This fall, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updated its strategic framework for tackling the opioid crisis, which uses science as a foundation for its comprehensive strategy.  HHS’s five-point strategy to combat the opioid crisis incudes improvements in  additional prevention, treatment and recovery services; data;  pain management; targeting of overdose-reversing drugs; and  research.

HLC Position:  HLC believes the best prospects for addressing the opioid crisis lie in collaboration and innovation in the public and private sectors.  HLC continues to emphasize the positive role of the private sector in coordinating care to deliver safe and effective patient-centered, evidence-based care that improves value.  HLC supports creating incentives for health plans and other providers to link plan members with community-based resources that can protect individual health and well-being and reduce rehospitalization rates.  HLC continues to advocate for streamlining quality measures across federal and commercial programs.  HLC also promotes safe harbor legislation as an innovative healthcare liability solution that provides greater protection against liability for utilizing evidence-based medical practices, including through health information technology.

 HLC Recent Activity:

  • HLC participates in the Partnership to Amend 42 CFR Part 2, which seeks to align Part 2 substance use disorder information with HIPAA to allow appropriate access to patient information that is essential for providing whole-person care.
  • HLC staff continues to meet with Senate offices to encourage passage of legislation to align 42 CFR Part 2 with HIPAA.
  • In October, HLC signed a multistakeholder letter by The Partnership to Amend 42 CFR Part 2 urging Senate leadership to bring H.R. 6082, “The Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety (OPPS) Act,” to the Senate floor for a vote during the lame-duck session.
  • On October 2, HLC staff attended a panel convened by the Pew Charitable Trusts, titled “How to Better Match Patients With Their Electronic Health Records,” which examined new research on ways to improve match rates to improve patient safety.
  • On July 31, HLC wrote the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in support of its hearing on “Reducing Healthcare Costs: Decreasing Administrative Spending.” The letter supported medical liability reform to incentivize the development of quality and safety measures.
  • On July 27, HLC Chairman George Barrett represented HLC at the first meeting of the National Academy of Medicine Opioid Action Collaborative.
  • On July 25, HLC wrote a letter in support of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s full committee markup of H.R. 6378, “Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPA).”
  • On July 17, HLC held a Capitol Hill briefing, “Ensuring Patient Safety Through Evidence-Based Medicine.” Congressman Ami Bera, M.D., (D-CA) and Dave Kendall of Third Way highlighted how evidenced-based medicine improves the quality of care, value, and patient safety, with liability safe harbors incentivizing its adoption.
  • On July 13, HLC responded to HHS regarding the administration’s request for information (RFI) to lower drug prices and reduce out-of-pocket costs. The letter supported the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) recently released guidance on drug and device manufacturer communications with payers, formulary committees, and similar entities, as well as addressed policy barriers such as Medicaid Best Price and certain fraud and abuse laws that need modernization.
  • On June 15, HLC held a Capitol Hill briefing titled “Protecting Healthcare in Times of Tragedy.” Panelists from Amerisource Bergen, Ascension, and Johnson & Johnson discussed the importance of protecting healthcare facilities and maintaining manufacturer production capabilities to avoid critical supply shortages.