This Week in Washington: Sen. Manchin Expresses Support for a More Limited Budget Reconciliation Package That Includes Health Provisions
House Energy and Commerce Committee Passes the Lymphedema Treatment Act
On July 13, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Lymphedema Treatment Act by a voice vote. The bill would extend Medicare coverage to lymphedema compression treatment items.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Dick Durbin Introduce Bill to Create a New Food Safety Administration
On July 13, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Food Safety Administration Act, which would transfer the Food and Drug Administration’s food authorities to a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) called the Food Safety Administration.
Reps. Eshoo and Pallone Call for USPSTF Process Reevaluation
On July 13, Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) wrote to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra calling for a reevaluation of the United States Preventive Services Taskforce (USPSTF) process to improve patient access to preventative services. The USPSTF is a volunteer panel of disease prevention experts that makes recommendations related to clinical preventative services. Private insurers are required to cover preventative services that receive a grade A or B from the USPSTF with no cost-sharing. In the letter, Reps. Eshoo and Pallone argue that time lapses between USPSTF recommendations and decreased funding have resulted in a disconnect between best clinical practices and the most recent USPSTF recommendations.
Energy and Commerce Committee Leadership Request Update on FDA’s Efforts to Improve Food Safety
On July 12, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) wrote to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf requesting an update on the agency’s plans to improve food safety. The members cited concerns with the FDA’s recent handling of the infant formula shortage.
Rep. Huffman Introduces Bill to Increase HCSM Transparency
On July 11, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced the Health Share Transparency Act, which would provide consumers with information directly before they enroll in Health Care Sharing Ministry (HCSM) coverage, in an effort to prevent deceptive practices. Health Care Sharing Ministries are organizations in which healthcare costs are shared among members, who are typically of the same religious group. HCSM members generally contribute monthly payments to cover the expenses of other members. The bill also includes measures to hold accountable HCSMs that fail to make timely disclosures. In a press release, Rep. Huffman argued that HCSMs sometimes take advantage of citizens seeking care, and use their religious basis to avoid regulation.
Sen. Manchin Expresses Support for Limited Budget Reconciliation Package
On July 14, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he would only support a budget reconciliation package with provisions that permit two years of Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax credits and Medicare drug price negotiations. Sen. Manchin’s position means that Democrats will have to decide whether to support a less ambitious reconciliation package that leaves out measures to address the Medicare trust fund tax loophole and the Medicaid gap. Manchin has said he will not support other provisions related to climate change and tax changes. The tight margins in the Senate mean that Sen. Manchin’s vote is needed to pass the reconciliation package.
Sens. Warren, Booker and Padilla Call for Declaration of National and Public Health Emergency Due to Restrictions to Reproductive Care
On July 14, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) led a group of 18 Senate Democrats in a letter to President Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra calling for the declaration of a national and public health emergency due to Americans’ lack of access to reproductive care. In the letter, the senators state that declaring a national and public health emergency would ensure that abortion and reproductive care are available and affordable.
Sen. Burr Introduces New Bill to Reauthorize FDA User Fee Programs
On July 14, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the Food and Drug Administration Simple Reauthorization Act. The bill would reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) prescription, generic, biosimilar and medical device user fee agreements. Sen. Burr’s bill is a narrower version of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Landmark Advancements Act, which passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in June. Sen. Burr’s version does not contain measures granting the FDA authority to regulate cosmetics, dietary supplements, laboratory-developed tests and other measures that he believes could stifle innovation. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee which has jurisdiction over the FDA stated she was still interested in the broader bill the committee produced. Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) stated that Sen. Burr’s bill will only delay the user fee reauthorization process. If the user fee reauthorization is not passed by September, a number of FDA programs will be disrupted and staff will have to be let go.
Sens. Feinstein, Murray and Warren Ask for Robust Funding for the Title X Family Planning Program
On July 13, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led a group of 15 senators in a letter to congressional leadership calling for robust funding for the Title X Family Planning Program. The senators argued that the Title X Family Planning Program, which provides birth control and family planning services, needs more funding now that 19 states have moved to impose bans or severe restrictions on abortion. A companion letter in the House was led by Reps. Judy Chu, Dina Titus (D-NV), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) and was signed by 128 members.
Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.