Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP): “COVID-19: Lessons Learned to Prepare for the Next Pandemic”
Tuesday, June 23, 2020: The Senate HELP committee held a hearing to cover the lessons learned from shortcomings of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in preparation for the future. Find more details on the hearing here.

Why is this important: According to the witness panel at the hearing, the U.S. was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic and needs to invest more in the tools needed to monitor outbreaks and respond rapidly to the next health crisis. The panel added that health security is national security, and should be treated as such, with more being spent on public health at all levels.

House Committee on Energy and Commerce: “Oversight of the Trump Administration’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic”
Wednesday, June 24, 2020: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a full committee hearing to discuss the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic thus far. Find more details on the hearing here.

Why is this important: FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the need for increased use of real-world evidence (RWE) to help regulators make decisions in real time, and he asked Congress to provide more support for advancing generation of RWE. He added that the FDA has an access-to-information issue.

House Committee on Ways and Means: “Examining the COVID-19 Nursing Home Crisis”
Thursday, June 25, 2020: The House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing to discuss the disproportionate effect COVID-19 is having on nursing home residents. Find more details on the hearing here.

Why is this important: According to the witness panel, the only way to truly protect the health and safety of residents and staff is for all facilities to have ready access to testing and require that residents and staff are regularly tested. Testing will help control the spread of the virus among the residents, staff and the community at large, as staff and others come and go from these facilities. Analysis suggests that up to 40 percent of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 have taken place in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.


House Votes Today on Democratic ACA Bill
On June 29, the House of Representatives will vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, a bill by House Democrats to enhance the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by boosting the law’s tax credits, reversing the Trump administration rules seen as undermining the law and encourage states to take up the Medicaid expansion. The bill also includes drug-pricing provisions as an offset. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score for the legislation, if the 14 states that have yet to take up the Medicaid expansion would do so, another 4 million people could gain coverage. Find the legislation here.


Murray and DeLauro Concerned Trump Administration’s Leadership Changes to COVID-19 Vaccine Project Could Delay Progress
On June 23, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), chair, wrote to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar about the Trump administration’s recent removal of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) employees from project leadership roles on several COVID-19 vaccine contracts. The members warned these changes could delay the progress toward a COVID-19 vaccine and urged the administration to reinstall BARDA employees immediately as project leads on COVID-19 vaccine contracts. Find the full letter here.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.