This week in Washington: House passes bipartisan continuing resolution (CR) to avoid government shutdown; Senate set to pass the CR this Tuesday.


House Committee on Rules: Legislative Meeting
Sept. 21, 2020: The House Committee on Rules met to discuss the rule by which the continuing resolution will be considered on the floor of the House.

  • H.R. 8337 — Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act

Find more information on meeting here.

Why this is important: The continuing resolution (CR) passed the House, 359-57. The bill is set to be considered by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: COVID-19: An Update on the Federal Response
Sept. 23, 2020: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing for a COVID-19 federal response update. Find more information on the hearing and panel here.

Why this is important: This hearing took place as the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) latest report showed that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) federal response to COVID-19 needs improvement.


House Passes Bipartisan Continuing Resolution (CR) to Fund Government
On Sept. 22, the House passed a continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown, 359-57. The bipartisan CR will fund the government until Dec. 11. The CR is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate on Sept. 29, the day before the funding deadline. It is expected to pass the Senate.

The CR includes a number of health care provisions. The legislation funds community health centers, national health services corps and teaching hospitals that operate graduate medical education programs. The legislation also provides clarification that drugs used in medication-assisted treatment can continue to get Medicaid rebates and provides an increase in funding for the Medicaid improvement fund, protection of Medicare beneficiaries from an expected Part B premium hike and extension of FDA’s rare pediatric disease priority review voucher program.

In addition, the legislation includes Medicare and Medicaid extenders including delaying cuts in Medicaid disproportionate share hospitals, the Money Follows the Person demonstration and the Community Mental Health demonstration. The legislation also provides some relief for Medicare providers by extending the deadline and lowering interest for certain COVID-19 provider relief payments. Find H.R. 8337 (Continuing Resolution) here.

House Passes 10 Health Care-Related Bills
On Sept. 21, the House passed 10 bills that had been reported to the House for consideration from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. All passed on a voice vote. The bills address the maternal mortality crisis, study and prevention of sudden infant and child death, ensure Medicaid beneficiaries have access to non-emergency medical transportation and support programs to prevent self-harm and suicide. In addition, the legislation includes efforts to strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile and legislation to further develop a national continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing industry and permit the Food and Drug Administration to destroy unsafe medical devices. The bills passed are:

  • H.R. 4866, the “National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act of 2019,” introduced by Chairman Pallone and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY). The legislation would amend the 21st Century Cures Act to direct FDA to designate National Centers of Excellence (NCEs) in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing. NCEs would work with FDA and industry to craft a national framework for continuous manufacturing implementation, including supporting additional research and development of this technology, workforce development, standardization and collaborating with manufacturers to support adoption of continuous manufacturing. The bill authorizes $80 million to be appropriated for NCEs each year from fiscal year (FY) 2021 through FY 2025.
  • H.R. 7574, the “Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act of 2020,” introduced by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Susan Brooks (R-IN). The legislation would make several improvements to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and incorporates language from a number of bipartisan bills introduced in the 116th Congress. Specifically, the bill would improve the financial security of the SNS by authorizing the sale of products to other federal departments or agencies from within six months of product expiration. It would also improve the ability of the SNS to maintain and procure medical supplies by requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that the contents of the SNS are in good working order and, as necessary, conduct maintenance on contents of the stockpile, among other provisions.
  • H.R. 2271, the “Scarlett’s Sunshine on Unexpected Death Act,” introduced by Reps. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Tom Cole (R-OK) and Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA). The legislation would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to revise the Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Reporting Form, authorize CDC to award grants to improve the completion of comprehensive death scene investigations for sudden unexplained infant death (SUID) and sudden unexplained death in children (SUDC), to increase the rate of comprehensive, standardized autopsies in cases of SUID and SUDC and to train medical examiners, coroners, death scene investigators, law enforcement and health professionals on standard death scene investigation protocols. The bill authorizes grants through the Health and Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) related to SUD and SUID.
  • H.R. 4995, the “Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act of 2019,” introduced by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Bob Latta (R-OH), Alma Adams (D-NC) and Steve Stivers (R-OH). The legislation creates new programs in the Public Health Service Act to improve maternal health, including programs to strengthen maternal health quality and access to care in rural areas, programs to address racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes, and grants to implement best practices in maternal health care and strengthen training programs.
  • H.R. 3935, the “Protecting Patients Transportation to Care Act,” introduced by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Tom Graves (R-GA) and Sanford Bishop of (D-GA). The legislation would amend the Medicaid statute to include non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) in the list of mandatory Medicaid benefits by codifying current Medicaid NEMT regulations. The bill would also require state Medicaid programs to have in place a utilization management process for the benefit.
  • H.R. 1646, the “Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Act of 2019” or the “HERO Act of 2019,” introduced by Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA). The legislation would create a data system at CDC to capture public safety officer suicide incidences and study successful interventions, authorize grants for peer support behavioral health and wellness programs within fire departments and emergency medical service agencies and require the development of best practices for addressing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in public safety officers and educational materials.
  • H.R. 4564, the “Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2019,” introduced by Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Don Beyer (D-VA) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA). The legislation would increase the authorization funding level of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program to $50 million each year, from FY 2020 through FY 2022. The bill also directs HHS to establish a plan for maintaining the program and includes a pilot program to research, analyze and employ various innovative technologies and platforms for suicide prevention.
  • H.R. 4585, the “Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act,” introduced by Reps. Beyer and Greg Gianforte (R-MT). The legislation would direct HHS, in coordination with CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to carry out a national suicide prevention media campaign to advertise the new 9-8-8 number, when it becomes effective, raise awareness for suicide prevention resources and cultivate a more effective discourse on how to prevent suicide. The bill would also provide guidance to TV and social media companies on how to talk about suicide by creating a best practices toolkit.
  • H.R. 5619, the “Suicide Prevention Act,” introduced by Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Matsui. The legislation would establish two grant programs to prevent self-harm and suicide. The first program would authorize CDC to award grants to state, local and tribal health departments to expand surveillance of self-harm and the second program would authorize SAMHSA to award grants to hospital emergency departments for programs to prevent self-harm and suicide attempts among patients after discharge.
  • H.R. 5663, the “Safeguarding Therapeutics Act,” introduced by Reps. Guthrie and Eliot Engel (D-NY). The legislation would extend FDA’s administrative destruction authority to medical devices, which would allow FDA to destroy certain imported medical devices, such as diagnostic tests or surgical masks in instances where FDA believes such medical devices are adulterated, misbranded or unapproved and may pose a threat to the public health, as the agency currently does with regard to drugs.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.