Senate Committee on Finance: Part 1: Protecting the Reliability of the U.S. Medical Supply Chain During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Tuesday, July 28, 2020: The Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the U.S. medical supply chain in a two-part series. Find more details on the hearing here.
Why this is important: Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) argued that the main concerns around PPE and medical equipment are the fault of the U.S.’s major supplier, China. Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) believes that the concerns revolve around a lack of organization and oversight by the Trump administration and its agencies. Members agreed that increased domestic production was a first step toward solving the supply chain concerns.
House Committee on Energy and Commerce: Improving Access to Care: Legislation to Reauthorize Key Public Health Programs
Wednesday, July 29, 2020: The Subcommittee of Health on the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing to discuss the following legislation:
- H.R. 2075, the “School-Based Health Centers Reauthorization Act of 2019”
- H.R. 4078, the “EARLY Act Reauthorization of 2019”
- H.R. 4439, the “Creating Hope Reauthorization Act”
- H.R. 4764, the “Timely Reauthorization of Necessary Stem-cell Programs Lends Access to Needed Therapies Act of 2019” or the “TRANSPLANT Act of 2019”
- H.R. 5373, the “United States Anti-Doping Agency Reauthorization Act of 2019”
Find more details on the hearing here.
Senate Committee on Finance: Part 2: Protecting the Reliability of the U.S. Medical Supply Chain During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Thursday, July 30, 2020: The Senate Committee on Finance held a second hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the U.S. medical supply chain, in a two-part series. Find more details on the hearing here.
Why this is important: The witnesses across the supply chain agreed that more oversight by the agencies of the Trump administration, and more transparent allocation and bidding could help lessen the counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPE) and price gouging.
House Approves $1.3 Trillion Spending Package for 2021
On July 31, the House approved a $1.3 trillion appropriations package for the 2021 fiscal year, 217-197. The package included the spending bills for Defense; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Commerce, Justice and Science; Energy and Water; Financial Services and general government; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.
House Republicans Accuse States of Not Using CARES Act Funds
On July 30, the House Ways & Means Republicans said a recently released Treasury Inspector General (IG) report proves states do not need extra COVID-19 funds, as several states have not even spent half of their CARES Act allocations. House Ways & Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) pointed out that the IG report shows while Michigan and New Jersey’s governors have specifically asked for more relief, they have spent 3 percent and 2.1 percent respectively of their CARES Act funds from March 1 through June 30. The Senate GOP proposal gives states greater flexibility in spending their CARES Act funds instead of sending them more money.
Senate GOP Proposal Includes Liability Limits, Telehealth Waiver Extensions
On July 27, Senate Republicans unveiled their proposal for the next COVID-19 response bill. The draft includes a provision that would keep Medicare Part B premiums in place for next year instead of increasing the premium. The idea is to protect Medicare’s 62.5 million beneficiaries from a spike in the Part B premium which is anticipated because of less money flowing into the program in the midst of the pandemic. However, beneficiaries would pay an average of $3 a month extra until the shortfall caused by freezing the premiums is recouped. In addition, the proposal would delay providers’ repayment of Medicare funds they received as part of the initial COVID-19 response. Repayment would be delayed until Jan. 1, 2021. Find the proposal here.
Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.