This Week in Washington: House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health holds hearing on a range of legislation concerning public health programs, patient wellbeing and caregiver support; HHS and FTC request information on group purchasing organization and drug wholesaler business practices.

House

House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee On Health Holds Hearing on Multiple Patient and Caregiver Proposals

On Feb. 14, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to discuss proposals aimed at improving public health, emergency medical services, maternal and pediatric health, disease research and prevention, support for family caregivers and access to care for patients.

The proposals were:

H.R. 6160, To amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize a lifespan respite care program: Reauthorizes the Lifespan Respite Care Program through fiscal year 2028. The Lifespan Respite Care Program empowers coordinated state systems to provide accessible, community-based respite care services for family caregivers of children and adults.

H.R. 7208, To reauthorize the Traumatic Brain Injury program: Reauthorizes certain Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) programs aimed at improving TBI prevention, patient advocacy systems and access to TBI rehabilitation.

H.R. 7251, To amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize certain poison control programs: Reauthorizes certain poison control programs including the maintenance of the national toll-free phone number, the promotion of poison control center utilization and the maintenance of a program that awards grants to accredited poison control centers.

H.R. 7153, To reauthorize the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, and for other purposes: Reauthorizes the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act which works to prevent suicide and burnout, as well as address mental and behavioral health conditions among healthcare professionals. The legislation would direct the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prioritize the allocation of resources for healthcare professional mental health and substance use disorder services.

H.R. 6960, Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act of 2024: Reauthorizes the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program for fiscal years 2024 through 2029.

H.R. 4646, SIREN Reauthorization Act: Reauthorizes and modifies the Rural Emergency Medical Services Training and Equipment Assistance Program for fiscal years 2024 through 2028.

H.R. 7213, Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act of 2024: Reauthorizes the Autism Coordination Committee, the Developmental Disabilities Surveillance and Research Program and other programs concerning autism education, early detection and intervention for fiscal years 2025 through 2029.

H.R. 7189, Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act of 2024: Reauthorizes a national congenital heart disease research, surveillance and awareness program through fiscal year 2029.

H.R. 7218, Building Our Largest Dementia (BOLD) Infrastructure for Alzheimer’s Act of 2024: Reauthorizes programs focused on improving Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementia education, early detection, diagnosis, patient and caregiver support, risk reduction and other activities at currently appropriated levels for fiscal years 2025 through 2029.

H.R. 2706, Charlotte Woodward Organ Transplant Discrimination Prevention Act: Prohibits healthcare providers from denying or restricting an individual’s access to organ transplants solely on the basis of the individual’s disability, except in limited circumstances.

H.R. 620, Alzheimer’s Accountability and Investment Act: Requires the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue to submit an annual budget estimate to Congress to achieve the initiatives and goals included in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.

H.R. 619, NAPA Reauthorization Act: Reauthorizes the National Alzheimer’s Project through 2035, updates the project’s purpose and expands the membership and reporting requirements of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services.

H.R. 6829, Cardiomyopathy Health Education, Awareness, Research, and Training in the Schools (HEARTS) Act of 2023: Directs HHS to develop and distribute educational materials regarding cardiomyopathy, automated external defibrillators and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to school administrators, educators, health professionals and families. It would also direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to report on its national cardiomyopathy surveillance and research activities to Congress.

H.R. 7224, To amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize the Stop, Observe, Ask, and Respond to Health and Wellness Training Program: Reauthorizes the Stop, Observe, and Respond to Health and Wellness Training Program through fiscal year 2029. The program trains healthcare and social service providers to identify potential human trafficking victims and work with law enforcement as well has address other issues related to human trafficking.

H.R. 7300, Reauthorization of the Family-to-Family Health Information Centers: Reauthorizes funding for family-to-family health information centers through fiscal year 2029.

H.R. 7268, DeOndra Dixon INCLUDE Project Act of 2024: Reauthorizes the NIH Investigation of Co-Occurring Conditions Across the Lifespan to Understand Down Syndrome Project and requires the NIH to report on the program’s progress and related research.

H.R. 5012, SHINE for Autumn Act of 2023: Allows HHS to award grants for data collection and reporting related to still births and requires HHS to issue guidelines and educational materials regarding proper training and processes for the collection of stillbirth data. It would also require HHS to establish a perinatal pathology fellowship program within an existing training program.

H.R. 3916, SCREENS for Cancer Act of 2023: Reauthorizes the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program through fiscal year 2028 and modifies and updates program reporting requirements.

H.R. 4534, Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act of 2023: Requires HHS to conduct an interagency review on the status of women with lung cancer and to identify research and education opportunities.

For more information, click here.

House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health Holds Hearing on VA Use of Artificial Intelligence

On Feb. 15, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to examine the current and potential future uses of artificial intelligence at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Announced witnesses were:

  • Charles Worthington, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Gil Alterovitz, Ph.D., Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Artificial Intelligence Institute
  • Carolyn Clancy, M.D., Assistant Under Secretary for Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks
  • Prashant Natarajan, Author
  • Gary Velasquez, Chief Executive Officer of Cogitativo
  • Charles Rockefeller, Co-Founder and Head of Partnerships at CuraPatient
  • David Newman-Toker, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence

For more information, click here.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairmen Request GAO Study on Sales of Lab Equipment

On Feb. 12, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and two subcommittee chairmen, Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA), sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examine the sale of used and excess laboratory equipment and protective clothing by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture.

The chairmen are warning that the sale of this equipment could facilitate biological terrorism or warfare and are requesting the GAO investigate how federal agencies oversee the sales and exports of dual-use biological equipment.

For more information, click here.

Editor’s Note: The House is in recess until Feb. 28 and the first appropriations deadline is March 1.

Senate

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sends Letter Concerning Data Broker Sale of Personal Information

On Feb. 13, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler concerning the sale of personal information by data broker Near Intelligence, Inc.

The chairman is concerned about the Near Intelligence, Inc. sale of location and device data it obtained from individuals without first obtaining their informed consent. Sen. Wyden is requesting the FTC to intervene in the company’s bankruptcy proceedings to ensure that all personal data is destroyed and is also requesting the SEC to examine whether misleading statements made by the company to investors constitute securities fraud.

For more information, click here.

Senators Form Medicare Payment Reform Working Group

On Feb. 9, Sens. Blackburn (R-TN), Thune (R-SD), Barrasso (R-WY), Stabenow (D-MI), Warner (D-VA) and Cortez Masto (D-NV) announced that they would form a Medicare payment reform working group to explore and propose long-term reforms to the physician fee schedule and make updates to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.

For more information, click here.

Editor’s Note: When senators return after the Presidents Day recess, they will have to address the impeachment of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. No other business can be done on the senate floor while the impeachment trial is ongoing.

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