This week in Washington: Reconciliation negotiations continue.


House Passes Four Public Health Bills

On Oct. 20, the House voted to pass four public health bills. The first, the Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act (H.R. 3635), aims to secure medical supply chains and would allow the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to transfer supplies from the strategic national stockpile to other federal agencies or departments under specific conditions. In addition, the bill would require HHS to maintain reserves of certain critical supplies.

The second bill, the National Centers of Excellence in Advanced and Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act (H.R. 4369), would allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to designate educational institutions as National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing.

The third bill, the Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act (H.R. 654), would waive a federal grantee’s matching requirements for grantees that cannot meet the Drug-Free Communities Support Program match during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fourth bill, the State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act (H.R. 2378), would authorize the State Opioid Response (SOR) Grant Authorization Program and align the program’s grants with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funding.

House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health to Discuss Legislation

On Oct. 26, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “Caring for America: Legislation to Support Patients, Caregivers, and Providers” to discuss legislation. The bills to be discussed are listed below.

  • H.R. 1474, the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Act
  • H.R. 1667, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
  • H.R. 3297, the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2021
  • H.R. 3320, the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2021
  • H.R. 5583, the Helping Enable Access to Lifesaving Services Act or the HEALS Act
  • H.R. 5594, the Enhancing the Community Health Workforce Act
  • H.R. 5602, the Bolstering Infectious Outbreaks Preparedness Workforce Act of 2021 or the BIO Preparedness Workforce Act of 2021

CBO Releases Score of Healthcare Provisions of the House Reconciliation Bill

On Oct. 19, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote to Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) providing additional information and cost estimates on the health provisions in the House reconciliation legislation. While the CBO has not scored the Build Back Better Act in its entirety, it did study the potential impact of increasing the premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The letter, with more detailed information and cost estimates, can be found here.


Senate Appropriations Labor-H Released

On Oct. 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the nine remaining fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills. The Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education and related agencies bill text can be found here, the explanatory statement here and the bill summary here.

Sen. Wyden Requests Review of Pharmacy Closures

On Oct. 20, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure requesting that the agency review pharmacy closures. Specifically, Sen. Wyden voiced his concern that Medicare Part D plan fees and pharmacy benefit managers are contributing to pharmacy closures, many of which have occurred in rural areas.

The letter can be found here.

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