On March 18, the AAMC responded to a request for information (RFI) from the Healthy Future Task Force Subcommittee on Treatments, a group of House Republican lawmakers soliciting input from stakeholders on various policy issues. The response outlined the AAMC’s commitment to advancing medical research and innovation, as well as ensuring patient access to new drugs, therapies, and treatments.
The letter to subcommittee Chairs Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), and John Joyce (R-Ohio) highlighted key regulatory flexibilities that have enabled providers to leverage technology and improve patient care, such as through telehealth, the Acute Hospital Care at Home program, and remote patient monitoring. The letter also emphasized the necessity of sustained and predictable funding growth in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal agencies that fund basic research, which is the foundation of pioneering cures, diagnostics, preventive measures, and treatments.
The letter urged the subcommittee to work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to explore new alternative reimbursement models for curative therapies, while preserving and strengthening essential safety net programs like the 340B Drug Pricing Program and the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program. “An increasing number of patients who receive care at AAMC member institutions cannot afford the cost of their treatment. ... The AAMC supports efforts to reduce the costs of prescription drugs and improve access to care for patients,” the letter noted.
The response also urged the subcommittee to encourage the adoption of new and innovative drugs, devices, and diagnostics through regulatory flexibility. Specifically, the AAMC recommended that the subcommittee permanently extend telehealth flexibilities introduced during the COVID-19 public health emergency, which have expanded access to care for patients in rural and underserved communities. In addition, the letter recommended the extension of the Acute Hospital Care at Home program waiver, which gives hospitals the flexibility to provide care outside of the inpatient setting. The letter emphasized, “As teaching hospitals have surged to meet the capacity demands imposed on them by the [public health emergency], [Acute Hospital Care at Home] programs have become a valuable resource to both alleviate capacity issues and provide patients access to care.”
Also outlined were key recommendations to continue the United States’ leadership in medical research and innovation, including reliable funding growth for the NIH. The letter observed, “To be positioned to tackle future infectious disease challenges, the government needs to continually invest in sustained and predictable funding growth for biomedical research, through the NIH as well as other federal research agencies that fund basic research, interdisciplinary work, and translational science.” In addition, to increase efficiency in medical research, the letter recommended that Congress avoid cycles of delayed appropriations, which engender significant uncertainty in the NIH’s operational planning.
The response concluded by highlighting key recommendations for increasing access to medical research and diversifying clinical trials participation, including opportunities to address regulatory burden The letter noted the importance of establishing the Research Policy Board to provide recommendations to better harmonize regulations and reduce burden in the conduct of research.
The letter advocated for community-engaged research methods, which are instrumental in recruiting trial participants from historically marginalized communities. The letter stated, “The AAMC encourages community participation in the design, implementation, and evaluation of clinical research and recommends specific inclusion of local community partners in discussions regarding improving public awareness of clinical trials opportunities.”
The Healthy Future Task Force is one of seven Republican task forces created by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to identify issues facing the United States and develop policy solutions. The AAMC previously responded to the Subcommittee on Modernization and the Subcommittee on Security’s requests for information [refer to Washington Highlights, March 11, Feb. 11].