POLICY BRIEFINGS


Lawmakers Request More Aid for Health Care Coverage


Agroup of 18 Senate Democrats have sent a letter to the White House requesting more federal aid for lowering Americans’ health insurance premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs. The lawmakers, led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), argue that such expenses are deterring individuals from obtaining health insurance coverage. “To make historic progress toward covering the uninsured, and to ensure that having coverage truly delivers affordable access to health care and improved financial security, additional federal assistance to reduce cost-sharing expenses is critical,” the senators write. They also urge the administration to undertake a new effort to close coverage gaps in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs.


Oversight Panel Investigates AbbVie Price Hikes, Emergent Vaccine Manufacturing


The House Oversight and Reform Committee has released a new staff report investigating price hikes and patent activity undertaken by pharmaceutical manufacturer AbbVie. The report outlines how the company used its market power and the patent system to increase sales of its rheumatoid arthritis medication Humira in the U.S. while lowering its prices abroad. The analysis is based on internal company documents obtained by the committee. Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Chair David Cicilline (D-R.I.) also sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last week urging the agency to open a formal inquiry into AbbVie’s actions to delay competition from biosimilar products.

The committee also released its initial findings from its investigation into vaccine manufacturer Emergent BioSolutions Inc. The report details the company’s failure to address deficiencies in its vaccine production following warnings stemming from a series of FDA inspections last year. The warnings suggested that Emergent required “extensive training of personnel” and “strengthening of the quality function,” and that it had a deficient virus contamination control strategy. The probe also includes information related to the contract awarded to Emergent by the Trump administration and the company’s relationship with former administration official Robert Kadlec.


GAO Releases New Report on COVID-19 in Nursing Homes


Anew report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that 94% of nursing homes in the U.S. reported multiple COVID-19 outbreaks over the last year. The coronavirus pandemic killed more than 132,000 nursing home residents across the approximately 15,000 nursing homes in the nation. Only 64 facilities reported no outbreaks at all, while 85% of facilities experienced outbreaks that lasted for 5 weeks or more.


Stakeholders Push for Investment in Health Care Infrastructure


Acoalition of more than 229 health care stakeholder organizations is urging congressional leadership to include investments in the medical research enterprise as lawmakers consider initiatives to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure. The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research endorses the bipartisan RISE Act (H.R. 869/S. 289), which would provide one-time emergency funding for federal research agencies, including $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The groups also encourage additional support for extramural and intramural research facility upgrades and further investments in high-speed computation, greater data repository capacity, and improved biocontainment capabilities.


AAMC Leads Letter on Increasing GME Residency Slots


The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) spearheaded a letter to congressional leadership last week pushing for the inclusion of support for physician training in upcoming legislative efforts to improve the nation’s infrastructure. The letter, which was signed by members of the Graduate Medical Education (GME) Advocacy Coalition, endorses passage of the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (S. 834/H.R. 2256) to alleviate the shortage of physicians in the U.S., which is estimated to reach between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians by 2033. The legislation would gradually provide 14,000 new Medicare-supported GME positions targeted at hospitals serving patients in health professional shortage areas, hospitals in states with new medical schools or branch campuses, and hospitals already training over their Medicare caps.


Hart Health Strategies COVID-19 Resources


Hart Health Strategies Inc. continues to update the following resources related to the coronavirus pandemic. Please remember to clear your cache to ensure you download the most recent documents.


Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Markups


Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee markup of S. __, Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act; S. 1491, Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services Act; S.__, Supporting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration Act; S. 1301, Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act; S. 610, Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act; S. 1658, Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act; 10:00 a.m.; May 25

House Appropriations Committee hearing “FY 2022 Budget Request for the National Institutes of Health;” 10:00 a.m.; May 25

House Appropriations Committee hearing “Fiscal Year 2022 Defense Health and Medical Readiness;” 11:00 a.m.; May 25

Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution hearing “Stop Gun Violence: Safe Storage;” 2:30 p.m.; May 25

House Appropriations Committee hearing “FY 2022 Budget Request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;” 10:00 a.m.; May 26

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Depts. of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education hearing “National Institutes of Health’s FY22 Budget and the State of Medical Research;” 10:00 a.m.; May 26

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing “ A Shot at Normalcy: Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence;” 11:00 a.m.; May 26

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security hearing to examine proposed budget estimates and justification for FY2022 for the Department of Homeland Security; 2:00 p.m.; May 26

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs hearing to examine proposed budget estimates and justification for FY2022 for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); 2:30 p.m.; May 26

House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs hearing “USAID FY22 Budget Request;” 11:00 a.m.; May 27

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing “Investing in a Better VA: Examining the Role of Infrastructure in Veterans’ Access to Care and Benefits;” 2:30 p.m.; May 27


Recently Introduced Health Legislation


H.Res.402 — Recognizing the devastating impact of COVID-19 in India and expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to COVID assistance to India; Sponsor: Rep. Sherman, Brad [D-CA-30]; Committees: House - Foreign Affairs

H.R.3236 — To prohibit the President from taking any action to support the waiver of obligations of members of the World Trade Organization under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights in relation to the prevention, containment, mitigation, or treatment of COVID-19 unless a statute is enacted expressly authorizing such a waiver with respect to the prevention, containment, mitigation, or treatment of COVID-19, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Salazar, Maria Elvira [R-FL-27]; Committees: House - Foreign Affairs; Ways and Means

H.R.3256 — To prohibit Federal funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology; Sponsor: Rep. Perry, Scott [R-PA-10]; Committees: House - Foreign Affairs

H.R.3258 — To amend title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act to improve patient access to anti-cancer oral medications, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Sewell, Terri A. [D-AL-7]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.3259 — To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to combat the opioid crisis by promoting access to non-opioid treatments in the hospital outpatient setting; Sponsor: Rep. Sewell, Terri A. [D-AL-7]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce; Ways and Means

S.1654 — A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to include certain over-the-counter dietary supplement products as qualified medical expenses; Sponsor: Sen. Cramer, Kevin [R-ND]; Committees: Senate – Finance

S.1660 — A bill to expand access to health care services for immigrants by removing legal and policy barriers to health insurance coverage, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Sen. Booker, Cory A. [D-NJ]; Committees: Senate – Finance

S.1662 — A bill to increase funding for the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration and for the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health; Sponsor: Sen. Lujan, Ben Ray [D-NM]; Committees: Senate - Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

H.Res.404 — Expressing support for the designation of the 17th day in May as “DIPG Awareness Day” to raise awareness and encourage research into cures for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) and pediatric cancers in general; Sponsor: Rep. Dingell, Debbie [D-MI-12]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.Res.407 — Expressing support for the designation of September 2021 as “National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month”; Sponsor: Rep. Lynch, Stephen F. [D-MA-8]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.3263 — To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish in the Department of Homeland Security a medical countermeasures program, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Miller-Meeks, Mariannette [R-IA-2]; Committees: House - Homeland Security

H.R.3264 — To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require research and development to identify and evaluate the extent to which critical domain risks within the United States supply chain pose a substantial threat to homeland security, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Katko, John [R-NY-24]; Committees: House - Homeland Security

H.R.3269 — To amend the Controlled Substances Act to list fentanyl-related substances as schedule I controlled substances, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Buchanan, Vern [R-FL-16]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce; Judiciary



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