Toomey, Klobuchar Introduce Medical Device Tax Repeal

Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have introduced legislation (S. 692) to permanently repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) medical device tax. The 2.3 percent federal excise tax on medical devices has been suspended and delayed since it became law. Most recently, the tax was retroactively delayed and will now go into effect on January 1, 2020. The Senate bill currently has 25 bipartisan cosponsors.

Dems to Include Money for Gun Violence Research in CDC Funding

Democratic appropriators plan to request funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct research on gun violence, according to Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). The subcommittee’s ranking member Tom Cole (R-Okla.) has opposed such provisions in the past but has more recently appeared open to a compromise, suggesting that gun violence research be funded while preserving the Dickey-Amendment, which prohibits federal researchers from advocating for gun control. It is unclear how gun violence research funding would fare in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Hoyer Previews House Appropriations Plans

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) hopes to spend the month of June passing the 12 annual appropriations bills, he told the House Budget Committee last week. Lawmakers will first have to reach an agreement to raise spending caps under the Budget Control Act (BCA) so that appropriators have top-line spending limits to work with. Without a new agreement, discretionary spending caps will be cut to the levels outlined in the BCA for fiscal year (FY) 2020 – approximately $126 billion less than FY 2019. The White House plans to request deep cuts to nondefense discretionary spending, while tapping into Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds to remain within the cap for defense spending, a plan which Democrats say they will oppose. The first part of the President’s budget is expected to be released today.

Eli Lilly to Release Authorized Insulin Generic

Drug company Eli Lilly announced last week that it will introduce a less expensive, authorized generic version of its insulin that will cost half the price of the brand-name drug. The pricing process surrounding insulin, which has seen significant increases in cost in recent years, is the subject of several congressional investigations. While Eli Lilly’s decision was praised by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, policymakers also cautioned that more needs to be done to ensure access to life-saving medications like insulin. Following the announcement, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reminded Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi to respond to his previous request for information regarding insulin pricing practices.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Meetings

House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy hearing “Examining the Public Health Risks of Carcinogens in Consumer Products;” 10:00 a.m., 2154 Rayburn Bldg.; March 12

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing “The Fiscal Year 2020 HHS Budget;” 12:00 p.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; March 12

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing “Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs: Reducing Barriers to Market Competition;” 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; March 13

House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Service, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing “Department of Health and Human Services Budget Request for FY 2020;” 2:00 p.m., 2358-C Rayburn Bldg.; March 13

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies hearing to examine the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other emerging health threats; 10:00 a.m., 124 Dirksen Bldg.; March 14

Senate Finance Committee hearing “The President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget;” 10:15 a.m., 215 Dirksen Bldg.; March 14

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