Energy and Commerce Asks for Details on Avian Flu Preparedness

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-Col.) have written to Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Nicole Lurie seeking details on the administration’s emergency preparedness on the spread of avian influenza. HPAI H5 viruses have “the potential to threaten public health indirectly through pressures on the flu vaccine development process, which still mostly requires chicken eggs,” the members write. The letter goes on to request information regarding the administration’s efforts to prevent disruption to the development of the flu vaccine and what is being done to prepare local communities for the potential spread to humans.

California Enacts Strict New Vaccination Law

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed into law a new bill imposing one of the strictest new school vaccination laws in the country. The bill limits who could request an exemption from vaccine requirements for religious and other personal reasons. The legislation will require nearly all public school children to be vaccinated. The bill follows an outbreak of measles fueled by low vaccination rates in California last year.

New Express Scripts Findings on Exchange Plan Rx Spending

According to a new report from Express Scripts on 2015 Public Exchange Plan Rx Trends, 2015 enrollees in the health care exchanges established by the 2010 health care law are younger and healthier than earlier exchange enrollees, driving down the cost of prescription drug plans and patients’ out of pocket costs. Notably, newer enrollees are using fewer high-costs specialty medications. New exchange enrollees in the first quarter of 2015 had 34 percent fewer adjusted specialty pharmacy claims than enrollees in the first quarter of the previous year.

Upcoming Congressional Meetings and Hearings

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security: hearing titled “Small Business Health Care Challenges and Opportunities;” 2:00 p.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; July 7

Senate Appropriations State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee: markup of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016; 3:00 p.m., 116 Dirksen Bldg.; July 7

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee: hearing on “Medicaid at 50: Strengthening and Sustaining the Program;” 10:15 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; July 8

House Appropriations Committee: markup of FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations Bill; 10:15 a.m., 2359 Rayburn Bldg.; July 8

Senate Appropriations Committee: markup of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016; 10:30 a.m., 106 Dirksen Bldg.; July 9

House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA): markup of Pending Legislation; 2:00 p.m.; 334 Cannon Bldg.; July 9

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee: hearing on: “H.R. 272; H.R. 353; H.R. 359; H.R. 421; H.R. 423; H.R. 1356; H.R. 1688; H.R. 1862; H.R. 2464; H.R. 2914; H.R. 2915; draft legislation to clarify the role of podiatrists in VA; and, draft legislation to authorize VA major medical facility construction projects for FY 2015 and to make certain improvements in the administration of VA medical facility construction projects;” 10:00 a.m.; 334 Cannon Bldg.; July 14

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