Advocacy Newsletter: Legislative and Policy Highlights

March 13, 2023

What to expect in 2023? Congressional Leadership and Committee Assignments

As we enter the 118th Congress, we thought it would be helpful to provide insight regarding Congressional Leadership and Committee Assignments, especially committees with jurisdiction over SNMMI legislative and policy priorities.

The 118th Congress welcomes 48 new Republicans and 38 new Democrats, with several notable retirements and leadership shakeups.

  • Longtime Republican Leader on the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) retired and Representative Jason Smith (R-MO) is now Chair of the full Committee. Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is newly appointed to Chair the Health Subcommittee.
  • In the U.S. Senate, Committee leadership is relatively the same with the exception of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) leaving her Chairmanship on the Senate HELP Committee to lead the Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee and Republican Richard Burr (R-NC), the former Ranking Member, is succeeded by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA).
  • Leadership shakeup on the Senate Appropriations Committee with long time Republican and Democratic leaders retiring. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) served in Congress a total of 44 years and handed the Republican gavel to Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Democratic Leader on the Committee also retired following an impressive 48 years serving in Congress.

SNMMI congratulates all Members of Congress on their committee assignments and looks forward to working together to advance legislative priorities important to the nuclear medicine community. 

Cathy S. Cutler, PhD, presented at the recent CMS MEDCAC Meeting

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) held a public meeting with the Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) on February 13-14, 2023.

Cathy S. Cutler, PhD, SNMMI Vice President-elect, presented on behalf of SNMMI. Dr. Cutler is the Director of the Medical Isotope Research and Production Program at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The meeting focused primarily on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) final report as well as current criteria used to assess coverage with evidence development (CED) when examining whether clinical studies qualify for Medicare coverage. The MEDCAC is expected to make recommendations to CMS based on the information gathered from stakeholders during the meeting. Notably, the current CED criteria has not been evaluated in eight years; however, there have been numerous advances in technology and treatments.

Dr. Cutler provided several recommendations to the Agency including:

  • Urging CMS to rely more on targeted and real-world evidence collection such as Electronic Health Records (EHR), Administrative Claims, and Clinical records to satisfy CED requirements, promote accountability, and ensure accuracy of information.
  • Urging CMS to include criteria for terminating any CED requirements at the time a CED NCD is created as well as implement a process for further review every five years to assess need and receive feedback from stakeholders.
  • Urging CMS to streamline their review process to improve efficiency and the burden on providers and manufacturers, implement oversight of the program, set strict adherence guidelines and timeframe for review.

CED impacts access to new technologies, limits coverage, and stifles innovation. While CMS has a process in place to remove NCDs that are no longer reflective of current medical practice, this decision is typically made by Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) and may or may not apply to CED NCDs. 

Congressional Appropriations- DOD Funding

The 2024 Appropriations season is currently underway with budget hearings scheduled to begin in March regarding the President’s FY24 Budget proposal. SNMMI continues to engage with lawmakers urging inclusion of nuclear medicine report language in the Appropriations legislative package.

SNMMI Staff had several positive Hill meetings highlighting the SNMMI Centers of Excellence, the importance of nuclear medicine in early diagnosis treatments, as well as the expansion of innovative research to improve quality of care for patients. The goal is to increase awareness and encourage more nuclear medicine specific research and grant funding.

So far, SNMMI Staff has met with the following Congressional offices:

  • Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Lead Sponsor of the FIND Act and Member of the Senate Finance Committee
  • Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lead Sponsor of the FIND Act and Member of the Senate HELP Committee and Appropriations Committee
  • Senator Wicker (R-MS), Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
  • Senator Duckworth (D-IL), Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
  • Senator Boozman (R-AR), Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee
  • Senator Casey (D-PA), Member of the Senate Finance Committee and HELP Committee
  • Senator Cramer (R-ND), Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Veterans Affairs Committee
  • Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Chairman of the Defense Subcommittee
  • Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations, Labor-HHS Subcommittee
  • Representative Neal Dunn (R-FL), Lead Sponsor of the FIND Act and Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
  • Representative Mike Turner (R-OH), Member of the House Armed Services Committee
  • Representative Gallego (D-AZ), Member of the House Armed Services Committee
  • Representative Greg Murphy (R-NC), Member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Health and Oversight Subcommittee
  • Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN), Member of the House Appropriations Committee, Defense Subcommittee and serves on the global health caucus
  • Representative Garamendi (D-CA), Member of the House Armed Services Committee
  • Representative Slotkin (D-MI), Member of the House Armed Services Committee and Veterans Affairs Committee
  • Representative Cuellar (D-TX), Member of the House Appropriations Committee

2023 Robert E. Henkin Government Relations Fellowship

Applications are now open for the 2023 Robert E. Henkin Fellowship. This is a one-year fellowship opportunity for early career professionals interested in learning more about advocacy.

The deadline to apply is March 15, 2023. 

Fellows will be awarded a $1,000 stipend, have the opportunity to serve on the SNMMI/ACNM Committee on Government Relations, as well as, participate in the Annual Advocacy Day in Washington, DC.