This Week in Washington: President Biden announces ending date of COVID-19 PHE, House begins investigations into COVID-19 origins; State of the Union scheduled for Feb. 7



House Energy and Commerce Committee Begins Investigation into COVID-19 Origin

On Feb. 2, Reps. Rodgers (R-WA), Griffith (R-VA) and Guthrie (R-KY) began the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation into the origin of COVID-19. The members sent letters to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and EcoHealth Alliance requesting the preservation of any document detailing research done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

For more information, click here.

House Democrats Introduce the Protect Social Security and Medicare Act

On Feb. 2, Reps. Pocan (D-WI), Doggett (D-TX) and Frost (D-FL) introduced the Protect Social Security and Medicare Act. The bill would raise to two-thirds the vote threshold needed to introduce any legislation in the House that would reduce benefits under either program.

House Passes Pandemic is Over Act

On Jan. 31, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pandemic is Over Act with a vote of 220-210. If enacted, the bill would immediately terminate the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The bill is not expected to pass in the Senate.

For more information, click here.

Reps. Pallone, Eshoo and Castor Send Letter Urging Action on Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance Plans

On Jan. 31, Reps. Pallone (D-NJ), Eshoo (D-CA) and Castor (D-FL) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury, urging the departments to roll back short-term limited-duration health insurance plans before Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) redeterminations begin on March 31, 2023.

For more information, click here.

House Republicans Introduce Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act

On Jan. 31, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-MO) and GOP Doctors Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-OH), and Rep. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), introduced H.R. 485, the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act, which would expand access to cures and prevent discrimination against Americans with disabilities. On Feb. 1, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health held a hearing titled “Lives Worth Living: Addressing the Fentanyl Crisis, Protecting Critical Lifelines, and Combatting Discrimination Against Those with Disabilities.” The legislation was discussed at the hearing.

H.R. 485 would prohibit the use of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) in all federal programs—an expansion from the current prohibition that only applies in a limited fashion to the Medicare program.

The bill would also prohibit the importation of price controls from countries that use QALYs.

House and Senate Members Urge Investment in KidneyX Program

On Jan. 30, Reps. DelBene (D-WA) and Bucshon (R-IN), along with Sens. Cardin (D-MD) and Young (R-IN), sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), urging President Biden and OMB Director Shalanda Young to add a $25 million investment to the president’s fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget for KidneyX. KidneyX is a public-private partnership between the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) devoted to the development of the world’s first artificial kidney. The members stressed the high cost of kidney disease treatment and the urgent need for artificial kidneys in their letter.

For more information, click here.


The Ensuring Kids Have Access to Medically Necessary Dental Care Act is Introduced

On Feb. 2, Sens. Cardin (D-MD), Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. Barragán (D-CA) reintroduced the Ensuring Kids Have Access to Medically Necessary Dental Care Act. The bill would eliminate lifetime and annual limits for children receiving dental care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The bill would also require CHIP to cover dental services for eligible children who are not currently enrolled in the program.

Senators Send Letter to CMS in Support of Medicare Advantage Program

On Feb. 1, Sens. Cassidy (R-LA), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Scott (R-SC), Peters (D-MI) and Capito (R-WV), along with 57 other senators, issued a letter to Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Brooks-LaSure expressing their support of the Medicare Advantage (MA) Program. The senators urged Administrator Brooks-LaSure and CMS to take steps toward sustaining and strengthening the MA Program.

For more information, click here.

American Values Act Reintroduced

On Jan. 31, Sens. Risch (R-ID), Cruz (R-TX), Rubio (R-FL), Young (R-IN), Hagerty (R-TN), Johnson (R-WI) and Barrasso (R-WY) reintroduced the American Values Act. The bill would permanently prohibit the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds to pay for abortion services overseas.

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