POLICY BRIEFINGS


Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


THIS WEEK'S BRIEFING - FEBRUARY 3, 2020


House Passes Suicide Research, Fentanyl Analogues Legislation


The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4704, the Advancing Research to Prevent Suicide Act, by a roll call vote of 385-8. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah), directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research on the science of suicide. It was reported out of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in December.

The House also considered the Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act (S. 3201) last week. The bill would extend for 15 months the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) authority to regulate all new fentanyl analogues as Schedule I drugs. The previous order was scheduled to expire in February. The bill was passed by a vote of 320-88, despite opposition from the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus due to concerns that it will continue failed “war on drug” polices and exacerbate mass incarceration. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent earlier this month and will now be sent to the President’s desk for his signature.


Coronavirus Declared Public Health Emergency


The United States has implemented strict travel restrictions in an effort to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 300 people in China and infected more than 14,000 worldwide. Members of the House of Representatives were briefed on the situation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) last week. U.S. health officials will send a team of science and research specialists to China to study the coronavirus and determine the scope of the outbreak. They also announced that efforts are underway to identify diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines to help combat the virus.

Bipartisan leadership of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have written to Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chad Wolf requesting more information on what the administration is doing to stem the spread of the virus. Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-Mich.) cite a 2016 reporting finding “system-wide gaps in ensuring all airport travelers received full health screenings” during the Ebola virus outbreak as the reason for their inquiry. The ask for details about how DHS plans to determine where to implement airport screenings. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, and DHS Secretary Wolf, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) called on the administration to implement a targeted travel ban on all commercial flights between the U.S. and China, allowing U.S. citizens living in China to return only under “appropriate, elevated monitoring.”


2020 Presidential Election: Iowa Caucuses and Beyond


Today, Democrats will gather in Iowa for the first of 57 caucuses and primaries that will take place over the next four months. The first stage of the race to become the Democratic presidential nominee will include four contests in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Although these states award a relatively small number of delegates, they have historically injected energy into the campaigns of the victors. The month of March will see 29 contests that award 62% of available delegates, with more than half of those occurring on Super Tuesday (March 3rd, 2020). The following month of April, with its 11 primaries, will carry added significance if a clear leader is not established after the eventful month of March. The primary season will conclude with 13 primaries taking place in May and early June. At this point, the candidate who has amassed the majority of delegates will go on to receive the Democratic nomination at the Democratic National Convention on July 13th, 2020.

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