This Week in Washington: Continuing Resolution Moves Forward and Senate Sets Up Vote on FDA Commissioner Nomination this Week


70 Republican House Members Call for Unwinding the Public Health Emergency Designation

On Feb. 11, House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), leading a group of 70 House Republicans, wrote to President Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, calling on them to accept the COVID-19 pandemic has become endemic, and requesting that the public health emergency designation be wound down.

The letter can be found here.

74 House Members Express Concern with CMS National Coverage Determination of Alzheimer’s Treatments

On Feb. 9, Sens. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Kevin Brady (R-TX), Brett Guthrie (R-WY) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) led a group of 74 House Republican members in a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. In the letter, members requested Secretary Becerra abandon and repropose the national coverage determination (NCD) that limited Medicare coverage for a class of Alzheimer’s treatments. The NCD only allows for Medicare coverage of Alzheimer’s treatments for clinical trials approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The letter notes that the NCD also excludes people with Down syndrome from participating in covered trials for Alzheimer’s treatments.

The letter can be found here.

House Passes Continuous Resolution to Fund Government Until March 11

On Feb. 8, the House voted 272-162 to pass a short-term government funding extension, also called a continuous resolution, that would push the funding deadline to March 11. The continuous resolution also includes an extension of Medicaid funding for territories and an extension of the Schedule 1 designation for fentanyl-related substances.

61 Members of Congress Write to Congressional Leadership Expressing Concern with the Physician Fee Schedule

On Feb. 8, Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) led 61 members of Congress in a letter to House and Senate leadership expressing their concerns regarding recent changes to the Physician Fee Schedule. In the letter, the members state that the 2022 Physician Fee Schedule cuts for office-based specialists will threaten the viability of these specialists, and request that relief be provided in upcoming omnibus appropriations legislation.

The letter can be found here.


Majority Leader Schumer Files Cloture on Califf’s Nomination

On Feb. 10, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on Dr. Robert Califf’s nomination to be Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner. This decision will limit debate on Califf’s nomination and set the stage for a full Senate vote this week.

Sens. Shaheen and Collins Introduce Bill That Aims to Ease Provider Relief Fund Requirements

On Feb. 9, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Improvement Actwhich aims to delay PRF reporting requirements until the end of the public health emergency. In addition, the bill would extend the use of PRF funding to improve workplace safety.

The bill text can be found here.

Sens. Cassidy and Baldwin Introduce Bill That Would Update Health Privacy Laws

On Feb. 9, Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Health Data Use and Privacy Commission Act, which aims to modernize health privacy laws and regulations by creating a health and privacy commission to research and make recommendations to Congress. In their press release, the senators state that healthcare technology companies have demonstrated the limits of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Sens. Sanders and Klobuchar Introduce Bill to Cap Prescription Drug Costs for Medicare Parts B and D

On Feb. 9, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced a bill that would establish a cap for covered prescription drug costs under Medicare Parts B and D. The bill would tie the Medicare reimbursement rates for prescription drugs to the rate paid by the Veterans Administration. On Wednesday afternoon Sens. Sanders and Klobuchar attempted to use a procedure that requires unanimous consent to have their bill be debated on the Senate floor, but Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) blocked the motion.

The bill text can be found here.

Sens. Thune and Menendez Introduce Bill That Aims to Incentivize Uptake of CHIP Health Services Initiatives

On Feb. 8, Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) School Behavioral Health Incentive Act. The bill aims to provide funding opportunities for states to participate in CHIP health services initiatives, or allow for states to develop their own health service initiatives with funding support from CHIP.

The bill text can be found here.

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