Results and analysis from the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, attorneys general and state legislative races.

Illinois

Despite winning the Presidential race in Illinois and retaining their majorities in both state legislative chambers, Democrats had a weaker than expected night, ceding ground from their Blue Wave strength in the Chicago suburbs in 2018.

North Carolina

All eyes were on North Carolina last night as results were tallied in one of the nation’s most critical swing states. Some of the state’s polling places had technical difficulties in the morning, leading the State Board of Elections to vote to extend some precincts’ closing times in an emergency voting session.

South Carolina

In what can only be described as a red Republican wave, upsets resonated across the Palmetto State on Tuesday night and into the day Wednesday.  Penry Gustafson defeated Democrat Vincent Sheheen, who served 20 years in the Senate, by a 51-49 margin, while Floyd Nicholson, who represents a district that has been Democratic since at least 1966, was defeated 56-44% by Republican Billy Garrett.  Republican Josh Kimbrell also defeated Spartanburg Democrat Glenn Reese 55-45. With the retirement of Senators John Matthews and Paul Campbell, there are now five open seats on the influential Senate Finance Committee.

Texas

Since 2016, Texas added 1.8 million registered voters to the voter rolls and hit an all-time record high of 16.9 million registered voters.  During the early voting period, almost 9.7 million people, or 57.3% of registered voters in the state, voted early.  This was a 47% increase from the number of voters who voted early in the 2016 general election.  In fact, before Election Day, 735,000 more people had voted early this year in Texas than had voted in the entire 2016 presidential election. On Election Day, over 1.4 million people voted in Texas, making this the highest election turnout our state has ever seen with over 11.1 million people in total voting.  While the Democrats were hopeful for big wins in Texas, that was not the case in last night’s election.  2021 in Texas state politics will look very similar to 2020.

Virginia

Virginia’s 2020 election results — like numerous other states’ — are still being tabulated given the unprecedented number of early votes cast in person and via mail-in ballots. Due to changes in election procedures passed by the General Assembly during the spring 2020 session, as well as court rulings that witness signatures are no longer required for mail-in ballots given the risks caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the landscape of how Virginians voted this year changed dramatically. Additionally, several races may not be called until after noon on Friday given that this is the first year Virginia can count absentee ballots that arrive after Tuesday — through noon Friday — as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

Read more on the U.S. Elections on McGuireWoods Consulting’s website.

This week in Washington: Washington is relatively quiet because of Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd.

Senate

Grassley, Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Transparency and Accountability within the Federal Government
On Oct. 26, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), along with Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Jody Hice (R-GA), introduced bipartisan legislation to increase transparency and accountability within the federal government. The Oversight.gov Authorization Act would formally authorize the establishment and maintenance of a website to help the public more easily access reports that have been generated by the independent work of Inspectors General (IGs). Additionally, the bill would improve accountability over funds related to COVID-19 federal spending and the work of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee by bolstering the webpage dedicated to housing this information as mandated under the CARES Act. Find the bill here.

Administration

CMS Advances Seven Finalists in Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge
On Oct. 29, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced seven finalists who will advance to the final round of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Health Outcomes Challenge. This multistage competition launched last year with more than 300 entities proposing AI solutions for predicting patient health outcomes aimed at revolutionizing health care for potential use by the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. In this last stage of the competition, the seven finalists will further develop algorithms that demonstrate how AI tools can be used to predict unplanned hospital and skilled nursing facility admissions and adverse events, and also will develop predictive algorithms for a standard target to be selected by CMS. CMS will announce the grand prize winner (who will receive up to $1 million in prize money) and runner-up (who will receive up to $230,000 in prize money) by the end of April 2021.

The finalists are:

  • Ann Arbor Algorithms (Sterling Heights, MI)
  • ClosedLoop.ai (Austin, TX)
  • Deloitte Consulting, LLP (Arlington, VA)
  • Geisinger (Danville, PA)
  • Jefferson Health (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (Princeton, NJ)
  • University of Virginia Health System (Charlottesville, VA)

CMS to Make COVID-19 Vaccines, Treatments Free for Medicare Beneficiaries
On Oct. 28, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) announced that the COVID-19 vaccines would be free to all Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare will cover, in entirety, the up to $2.6 billion cost of paying doctors to administer coronavirus vaccines, and doctors will bill traditional Medicare for all beneficiaries so private Medicare Advantage plans do not need to cover the cost. CMS will also make antibodies and other COVID-19 treatments free to seniors by paying hospitals extra for using newly approved or authorized COVID-19 treatments and by paying outpatient providers for those products separately from bundled payments. Medicare will pay doctors $28.39 to administer coronavirus vaccines. For vaccines that require two doses, Medicare will pay $16.95 for the first dose and $28.39 for the second dose. These rates will be geographically adjusted and recognize the costs involved in administering the vaccine, according to an interim final rule.

HHS Rewards 10,000-Plus Nursing Homes for COVID-19 Mitigation
On Oct. 28, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced more than $330 million will be distributed this week to nursing homes that HHS determined made significant reductions in COVID-19 cases and deaths in their facilities between August and September. There will be four more opportunities for nursing homes to qualify for the incentive funds. Find more information here.

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

This week in Washington: Mnuchin and Pelosi continue discussions for COVID-19 stimulus package.

House

Bipartisan Members Defend Preexisting Condition Protections, Disagree on Definition
On Oct. 20, the House Ways & Means oversight subcommittee had a bipartisan group of members pledge support for protecting people with preexisting conditions. The members disagreed on what defines preexisting condition protections. Republican members of the committee said preexisting conditions protections only work if coverage is affordable and said non-Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant products like short-term plans, which do not have to cover preexisting conditions or other essential health benefits, are a sufficient alternative. Find more information here.

Senate

Alexander Defends NIH Dr. Fauci after President Trump’s Negative Comments
On Oct. 19, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TX) defended the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Anthony Fauci, after President Trump called Fauci a “disaster,” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alexander called Dr. Fauci one of the country’s most distinguished public servants.

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

On Nov. 10, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for California v. Texas, the case challenging the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) constitutionality. This case centers on the ACA’s minimum essential coverage provision, the “individual mandate” requiring that people maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage.

In NIFB v Sebelius, the mandate was upheld as constitutional because the Supreme Court saw it as a tax. In 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which eliminated the individual mandate penalty effective Jan. 1, 2019, raising questions about the mandate’s constitutionality.

At the time the ACA was passed, the individual mandate was seen as a principle part of the law and how it would work. Since Congress zeroed out the penalty for failing to have minimum coverage, the thinking on the importance of the mandate has changed. Originally, 20 states led by Texas brought suit. However, after the 2018 elections, two states chose not to continue their participation.

In the lower court decision, the judge found the mandate unconstitutional. The appeals court agreed, but sent the decision back to the lower court for the judge to review what elements of the law might be severable and thus would not fall. Twenty-one states, led by California, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intercede before the lower court judge could review the law to determine what from the ACA was intertwined with the individual mandate and what was not.

The Trump administration has not defended the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate. Instead, the Department of Justice agrees with the state and individual plaintiffs in the case that the individual mandate is no longer constitutional because of the penalty elimination by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Supreme Court to Address Standing

The U.S. Supreme Court will address whether the plaintiffs have standing to challenge the individual mandate, by considering the following:

  • Is the mandate unconstitutional now? If the plaintiffs have standing, then the Supreme Court must determine whether Congress’ act in zeroing out the penalty renders the individual mandate unconstitutional.
  • If the individual mandate is unconstitutional, what else from the law falls and what can be kept in place? Should the Supreme Court find the individual mandate unconstitutional, it then must decide if the entire law must be struck or if parts of the law can be retained because they do not rely on the mandate being implemented. This would include the Medicare and Medicaid sections of the law and provisions that went into effect before the implementation of the mandate. The court must decide whether insurance reforms in the law fall with the mandate.
  • If the entire ACA is determined invalid, then the Supreme Court will consider whether the entire law is unenforceable nationwide or whether it should be unenforceable only to the extent that provisions injure the individual plaintiffs.

The U.S. Supreme Court could hand down a decision as late as June 2021. The ACA’s future will be determined by litigation that likely will go on for several years.

Read more on healthcare policy on the McGuireWoods Consulting website.

 

This week in Washington: Mnuchin and Pelosi continue discussions for COVID-19 stimulus package.

House

Democrats Ask GAO to Investigate Legality of President Trump’s Medicare Drug Gift Cards
On Oct. 13, House Energy & Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), House Ways & Means Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) and Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the legality of President Trump’s $200 Medicare drug discount cards. President Trump promised to hand out $200 gift cards to help Medicare Part D beneficiaries cover their copays. Only seniors would receive the cards before the election. However, the Democratic members say in the letter that the cards are almost like buying votes, and question whether the cards are legal before an upcoming presidential election.

Pelosi Rejects Trump Administration’s $1.8 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Package, Mnuchin Willing to Negotiate Further
On Oct. 12, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected the Trump administration’s $1.8 billion COVID-19 stimulus offer. She argued that the proposal ignored key economic issues during the pandemic and is $400 billion less than the Democrats’ proposal. The topline spending amounts and some of the major provisions have been confirmed, but no one has publicly seen the text. Democrats oppose an insufficient strategy for COVID-19 testing and tracing, and liability protection, which would shield corporations from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin responded that the Trump administration is willing to compromise with House Democrats over a provision on testing in a relief proposal.

Senate

Sen. Alexander and Rep. Walden Ask for Input on Modernizing 340B Drug Pricing Program
On Oct. 9, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR) released a statement calling for input on how to improve the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Suggestions from stakeholders must be submitted by Oct. 30, 2020, to the following email addresses: 340B@help.senate.gov and 340B@mail.house.gov. Find the full statement here.

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

This week in Washington: Negotiations for COVID-19 stimulus package are ongoing; House and Senate are in recess.

House

Energy and Commerce Republican Leadership Requests GAO Review of Contact Tracing Apps

On Oct. 9, House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee ranking member Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee ranking member Brett Guthrie (R-KY) sent a letter to the Comptroller General Gene Dodaro to request a technology assessment of COVID-19 contact tracing apps by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In the letter, the members ask GAO to review the use of these apps in other countries as well. Find the full letter here.

House Democrats Introduce Bill Penalizing Labs for Slow COVID-19 Test Results

On Oct. 2, Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Mike Sherrill (D-NJ) and Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced a bill to penalize laboratories that take longer than three days to provide coronavirus test results and to reward fast turnarounds. The Strictly Pay for Efficient and Expedited Delivery of Your (SPEEDY) COVID- 19 Tests Act would pay 25 percent more for COVID-19 test results returned within 24 hours. Medicare pay rates would remain the same if results are delivered within two days, and pay rates from before the pandemic would apply to tests when results take three days. After 72 hours, labs would receive no reimbursement for processing a COVID-19 test. The bill also threatens to pull labs’ ability to participate in Medicare if they do not process samples within 28 days. All tests must be processed within 28 days. The bill provides an additional 36-hour extension for rural communities and labs supporting medically underserved areas. Find the bill here.

Senate

Sen. Alexander and Rep. Walden Ask for Input on Modernizing 340B Drug Pricing Program

On Oct. 9, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR) released a statement calling for input on how to improve the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Suggestions from stakeholders must be submitted by Oct. 30, 2020, to the following email addresses: 340B@help.senate.gov and 340B@mail.house.gov. Find the full statement here.

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

This week in Washington: The Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government until Dec. 11 was signed by President Trump; House passes COVID-19 stimulus bill.

House

House Democrats Pass Revised HEROES Act
On Oct. 1, the House passed H.R. 6800, the revised Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), with a vote of 214 to 207. This version of the bill costs $2.2 trillion and includes a new provision that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) $1.5 million to hold one or more advisory committee meetings to discuss coronavirus vaccine authorization or approval requests. The bill creates a special enrollment period in healthcare.gov and Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax credits for anyone who has lost a job, and increases Medicaid matching funds, but does not include subsidies for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). The bill also provides $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures and $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine. The bill adds $50 billion to the provider relief fund. The Senate has shown no interest in this bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin continue to discuss COVID-19 stimulus funding. Find the bill here.

Houses Passes Bill to Extend Medicaid to Postpartum Beneficiaries
On Sept. 29, the House passed a bipartisan bill that would create a new state plan option to extend Medicaid eligibility for up to one year after a beneficiary gives birth. The bill, introduced last year by Reps. Robin Kelly (D-IL), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Michael Burgess (R-TX), also incentivizes states that choose to extend Medicaid for postpartum beneficiaries by increasing their federal Medicaid match 5 percent. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the bill would increase off-budget revenues by $649 million. Find the Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness (MOMMA’s) Act here.

Senate

Six Republican Senators Join Democrats on Motion to Debate Legislation to Block DOJ Concerning the Affordable Care Act
On Oct. 1, six Senate Republicans [Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)] voted with Democrats on a procedural motion to debate a bill that would block the Department of Justice (DOJ) from arguing against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the Supreme Court in November. Five of the six Republican senators are up for reelection this cycle. The bill was not expected to pass but was a message to the Trump administration ahead of the Supreme Court case.

Bennet, Young Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Create New Antibiotic Subscription Model
On Sept. 30, Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced legislation to establish a payment model under which antibiotic developers could get upfront payment for new antibiotics. The bill builds upon an existing framework to improve data collection for antibiotic use. The Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to set up a committee, the Committee on Critical Need Antimicrobials, to develop a pilot subscription and reimbursement model that incentivizes manufacturers to create antibiotics for targeted microbes. Find the bill here.

President Signs CR to Avoid Government Shutdown
On Sept. 30, the Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government through Dec. 11, avoiding a government shutdown. The CR extends funding for several Medicare and Medicaid programs, among other health care program extenders. The full package includes Medicare and Medicaid extenders, a delay in cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospitals and an extension of the repayment deadline and lowered interest for certain COVID-19 provider relief payments. It also includes a clarification that drugs used in medication-assisted treatment can continue to get Medicaid rebates, an increase in funding for the Medicaid improvement fund, protection of Medicare beneficiaries from an expected Part B premium hike and extension of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rare pediatric disease priority review voucher program. Find more information from McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president Stephanie Kennan here.

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

This week in Washington: House passes bipartisan continuing resolution (CR) to avoid government shutdown; Senate set to pass the CR this Tuesday.

Hearings/Markups

House Committee on Rules: Legislative Meeting
Sept. 21, 2020: The House Committee on Rules met to discuss the rule by which the continuing resolution will be considered on the floor of the House.

  • H.R. 8337 — Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act

Find more information on meeting here.

Why this is important: The continuing resolution (CR) passed the House, 359-57. The bill is set to be considered by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: COVID-19: An Update on the Federal Response
Sept. 23, 2020: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing for a COVID-19 federal response update. Find more information on the hearing and panel here.

Why this is important: This hearing took place as the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) latest report showed that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) federal response to COVID-19 needs improvement.

House

House Passes Bipartisan Continuing Resolution (CR) to Fund Government
On Sept. 22, the House passed a continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown, 359-57. The bipartisan CR will fund the government until Dec. 11. The CR is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate on Sept. 29, the day before the funding deadline. It is expected to pass the Senate.

The CR includes a number of health care provisions. The legislation funds community health centers, national health services corps and teaching hospitals that operate graduate medical education programs. The legislation also provides clarification that drugs used in medication-assisted treatment can continue to get Medicaid rebates and provides an increase in funding for the Medicaid improvement fund, protection of Medicare beneficiaries from an expected Part B premium hike and extension of FDA’s rare pediatric disease priority review voucher program.

In addition, the legislation includes Medicare and Medicaid extenders including delaying cuts in Medicaid disproportionate share hospitals, the Money Follows the Person demonstration and the Community Mental Health demonstration. The legislation also provides some relief for Medicare providers by extending the deadline and lowering interest for certain COVID-19 provider relief payments. Find H.R. 8337 (Continuing Resolution) here.

House Passes 10 Health Care-Related Bills
On Sept. 21, the House passed 10 bills that had been reported to the House for consideration from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. All passed on a voice vote. The bills address the maternal mortality crisis, study and prevention of sudden infant and child death, ensure Medicaid beneficiaries have access to non-emergency medical transportation and support programs to prevent self-harm and suicide. In addition, the legislation includes efforts to strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile and legislation to further develop a national continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing industry and permit the Food and Drug Administration to destroy unsafe medical devices. The bills passed are:

  • H.R. 4866, the “National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act of 2019,” introduced by Chairman Pallone and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY). The legislation would amend the 21st Century Cures Act to direct FDA to designate National Centers of Excellence (NCEs) in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing. NCEs would work with FDA and industry to craft a national framework for continuous manufacturing implementation, including supporting additional research and development of this technology, workforce development, standardization and collaborating with manufacturers to support adoption of continuous manufacturing. The bill authorizes $80 million to be appropriated for NCEs each year from fiscal year (FY) 2021 through FY 2025.
  • H.R. 7574, the “Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act of 2020,” introduced by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Susan Brooks (R-IN). The legislation would make several improvements to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and incorporates language from a number of bipartisan bills introduced in the 116th Congress. Specifically, the bill would improve the financial security of the SNS by authorizing the sale of products to other federal departments or agencies from within six months of product expiration. It would also improve the ability of the SNS to maintain and procure medical supplies by requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that the contents of the SNS are in good working order and, as necessary, conduct maintenance on contents of the stockpile, among other provisions.
  • H.R. 2271, the “Scarlett’s Sunshine on Unexpected Death Act,” introduced by Reps. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Tom Cole (R-OK) and Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA). The legislation would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to revise the Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Reporting Form, authorize CDC to award grants to improve the completion of comprehensive death scene investigations for sudden unexplained infant death (SUID) and sudden unexplained death in children (SUDC), to increase the rate of comprehensive, standardized autopsies in cases of SUID and SUDC and to train medical examiners, coroners, death scene investigators, law enforcement and health professionals on standard death scene investigation protocols. The bill authorizes grants through the Health and Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) related to SUD and SUID.
  • H.R. 4995, the “Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act of 2019,” introduced by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Bob Latta (R-OH), Alma Adams (D-NC) and Steve Stivers (R-OH). The legislation creates new programs in the Public Health Service Act to improve maternal health, including programs to strengthen maternal health quality and access to care in rural areas, programs to address racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes, and grants to implement best practices in maternal health care and strengthen training programs.
  • H.R. 3935, the “Protecting Patients Transportation to Care Act,” introduced by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Tom Graves (R-GA) and Sanford Bishop of (D-GA). The legislation would amend the Medicaid statute to include non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) in the list of mandatory Medicaid benefits by codifying current Medicaid NEMT regulations. The bill would also require state Medicaid programs to have in place a utilization management process for the benefit.
  • H.R. 1646, the “Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Act of 2019” or the “HERO Act of 2019,” introduced by Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA). The legislation would create a data system at CDC to capture public safety officer suicide incidences and study successful interventions, authorize grants for peer support behavioral health and wellness programs within fire departments and emergency medical service agencies and require the development of best practices for addressing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in public safety officers and educational materials.
  • H.R. 4564, the “Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2019,” introduced by Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Don Beyer (D-VA) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA). The legislation would increase the authorization funding level of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program to $50 million each year, from FY 2020 through FY 2022. The bill also directs HHS to establish a plan for maintaining the program and includes a pilot program to research, analyze and employ various innovative technologies and platforms for suicide prevention.
  • H.R. 4585, the “Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act,” introduced by Reps. Beyer and Greg Gianforte (R-MT). The legislation would direct HHS, in coordination with CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to carry out a national suicide prevention media campaign to advertise the new 9-8-8 number, when it becomes effective, raise awareness for suicide prevention resources and cultivate a more effective discourse on how to prevent suicide. The bill would also provide guidance to TV and social media companies on how to talk about suicide by creating a best practices toolkit.
  • H.R. 5619, the “Suicide Prevention Act,” introduced by Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Matsui. The legislation would establish two grant programs to prevent self-harm and suicide. The first program would authorize CDC to award grants to state, local and tribal health departments to expand surveillance of self-harm and the second program would authorize SAMHSA to award grants to hospital emergency departments for programs to prevent self-harm and suicide attempts among patients after discharge.
  • H.R. 5663, the “Safeguarding Therapeutics Act,” introduced by Reps. Guthrie and Eliot Engel (D-NY). The legislation would extend FDA’s administrative destruction authority to medical devices, which would allow FDA to destroy certain imported medical devices, such as diagnostic tests or surgical masks in instances where FDA believes such medical devices are adulterated, misbranded or unapproved and may pose a threat to the public health, as the agency currently does with regard to drugs.

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

McGuireWoods Consulting’s 2020 U.S. Elections Roundup interactive website is your one-stop resource for this year’s presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, attorneys general and state legislative races.

Complete with concise information about how elections are shaping up around the country — including snapshots of primary results and hot-button ballot initiatives — our site provides a landscape view of our nation’s political scene and insights on potential shifts in the tide.

Our goal is to provide business leaders and constituents quick, reliable access to comprehensive information about this year’s elections. Based on a compilation of public polling and forecasting data collected and analyzed by Politico, UVA Center for Elections, Inside Elections, 270toWin and the Cook Political Report, information provided on our site will be updated as appropriate.

We hope you find our site helpful, and please let us know if you have any questions about our country’s most anticipated elections.

Visit MWC’s 2020 Election Website

Hearings/Markups

House Energy and Commerce Committee: Full Committee Markup
The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a full committee markup and favorably reported all 26 health-related bills to the House floor with bipartisan support. The legislation included expanding access to mental health services, combating the opioid epidemic, reauthorizing key public health programs, improving Medicare enrollment, streamlining public health data sharing for Tribes and facilitating access to marijuana for research. Find more information and summary of the legislation here.

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP): Vaccines – Saving Lives, Ensuring Confidence, and Protecting Public Health
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a full committee hearing for updates on how far along the government and its industry partners are in working to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19. The focus of the hearing was an upcoming vaccine for COVID-19. Find more information here.

Why this is important: The panel repeated to the committee that none of the safety and efficacy assessments would be skipped or abbreviated in creating a COVID-19 vaccine. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), efforts to shorten the timeline, but still achieve a safe and effective vaccine, are based in eliminating downtimes and assuming the costs of at-risk manufacturing.

House

Congress Negotiating a Continuing Resolution to Fund Government until 2021
On Sept. 8, the Trump administration and congressional leaders tentatively agreed to work on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open past Sept. 30 when current appropriations are due to expire. The CR would fund the government at 2020 levels until Congress passes a full appropriation bill for fiscal year 2021. The Trump administration included a list of items known as “anomalies” that it wants Congress to address in the CR. The Trump administration wants funding for Medicare and Medicaid extenders, most of which are set to run through Nov. 30, as well as a provision to extend funding for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rare pediatric disease priority review voucher program.

Senate

GOP Coronavirus Relief Package Fails to Pass Senate
On Sept. 10, a slimmed-down version of the Senate Republicans’ coronavirus relief bill failed to pass in the Senate after a vote to end debate on the legislation failed, 52-47. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the package that included liability protections for health care facilities, paycheck protection program money and funding for state COVID-19 testing. The total cost of the bill was about $500 billion, about half of what Republicans initially proposed earlier this summer.

Warren, Casey Release Report on USPS Delivery of Prescription Drugs Delayed by Postmaster’s Changes
On Sept. 10, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) released a report that mail deliveries of prescription drugs are running on average about a day later than usual due to recent actions by U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Some deliveries are delayed upwards of seven days, which the senators say could lead to seniors’ not receiving medicines when they need them and cause health care costs to rise.  Deliveries of prescription drugs by the Postal Service (USPS) took 18 percent to 32 percent longer after DeJoy began implementing new changes at the Postal Service, according to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) surveyed by the senators. Find the report here.

Carper, Cassidy Lead Bipartisan Letter to CDC, HHS for Improvement and Modernization of COVID-19 Data Collection and Management
On Sept. 8, Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) led a bipartisan group of senators in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve, automate and modernize COVID-19 data collection and management. The senators asked HHS and CDC to use technologically advanced systems and build on existing data sources in order to provide public health officials and community leaders with more accurate, real-time information as they make decisions about reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find the letter here.

Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.