Paul to Support Supreme Court Nominee; Kavanaugh Meets with Undecided Senate Democrats

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has announced that he will support Brett Kavanaugh, the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Paul had previously expressed concerns about Kavanaugh’s position on the right to privacy and the bulk collection of data.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) also met with Kavanaugh last week, making him the first Democrat to do so. Manchin was one of only three Democrats that voted last year to confirm Trump’s other Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Manchin has repeatedly stated that maintaining protections for people with preexisting conditions is a priority for him as he evaluates Kavanaugh’s record. He plans to wait until after Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings before making a decision on the nomination. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), who also voted in favor of Gorsuch, plans to meet with Kavanaugh on August 15. Democrats do not have a means of blocking the nomination on their own, even with a unified caucus. If Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is unable to make the vote, Democrats would need at least one Republican to vote no. The two most likely Republican targets, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), remain undecided.

Senate Passes Suicide Hotline, Animal Drug User Fee Legislation

The Senate passed S. 1015, the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, by unanimous consent last week. The bill is aimed at making the U.S. suicide prevention hotline more user-friendly and accessible; it would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in consultation with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to study and report on the feasibility of designating an N11 dialing code to be used for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system. The bill previously passed the House by a vote of 379- 1, and will now be sent to the President for his signature. The Senate also passed the Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2018 (H.R. 5554) by unanimous consent last week. The bill will reauthorize user fee programs relating to new animal drugs and new generic animal drugs. The House previously passed the bill by voice vote on July 16.

Bipartisan Children’s Hospice Bill Introduced

A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at addressing gaps in care for children in need of hospice and palliative services. H.R. 6560, the Children’s Program of All-Inclusive Coordinated Care Act, would allow states to develop programs tailored to seriously ill Medicaid patients and their families. The programs would include palliative care, counseling, respite, expressive therapy, and bereavement benefits. The bill was introduced by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and is supported by the co-chairs of the Congressional Childhood Cancer Caucus, Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). The bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where DeGette is a senior member.

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

H.R.6639 — To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for coverage under the Medicare program of digital retinal imaging with remote interpretation; Sponsor: Rep. Reed, Tom [R-NY-23]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means

H.R.6641 — To amend title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act and title XVIII of the Social Security Act to prohibit health insurance issuers, group health plans, Medicare Advantage organizations, and prescription drug plan sponsors from limiting drug price information a pharmacy may give to a consumer; Sponsor: Rep. Paulsen, Erik [R-MN-3]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means

H.R.6642 — To amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to sunset the limit on the maximum rebate amount for single source drugs and innovator multiple source drugs; Sponsor: Rep. Burgess, Michael C. [R-TX-26]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.6646 — To amend the Older Americans Act of 1965 to authorize services to be provided to individuals with Alzheimers disease or a related disorder with neurological and organic brain dysfunction who have not attained 60 years of age; Sponsor: Rep. Rice, Kathleen M. [D-NY-4]; Committees: House - Education and the Workforce

S.Res.600 — A resolution recognizing July 28, 2018, as “World Hepatitis Day”; Sponsor: Sen. Hirono, Mazie K. [D-HI]; Committees: Senate - Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

S.3302 — A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the non-applicability of non-Department of Veterans Affairs covenants not to compete to the appointment of physicians in the Veterans Health Administration, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Sen. Boozman, John [R-AR]; Committees: Senate - Veterans’ Affairs

S.3305 — A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to establish rules for payment for graduate medical education (GME) costs for hospitals that establish a new medical residency training program after hosting resident rotators for short durations; Sponsor: Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ]; Committees: Senate – Finance

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