POLICY BRIEFINGS


Schumer Previews June Work Agenda


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) outlined his agenda for the coming month in a Dear Colleague letter last week. When the Senate reconvenes on June 7, Democrats will seek to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7) and to begin confirmation of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees. The chamber may also consider gun safety and LGBTQ equality legislation and vote on the For the People Act (S. 1). Schumer notes that committees will also continue their work on the administration’s Build Back Better economic agenda during the June work period.


HELP Advances Maternal, Mental Health Bills


The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced six pieces of bipartisan legislation last week aimed at improving maternal and mental health care. The bills included:

  • The Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act (S.1675),
  • The Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services (MOMS) Act (S.1491),
  • The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act (S.1658),
  • The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (S.610),
  • The Supporting the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the Food and Drug Administration Act (S.1662), and
  • The Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act (S.1608).
Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) stated that she will be pushing to get these bills passed into law as soon as possible.


Burr Releases Policy Brief on CDC Pandemic Response


Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-N.C.) released a new policy brief last week on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) pandemic response and making recommendations for agency reform. Modernizing CDC: Ensuring a Strategic Approach and Improving Accountability is the first in a series of briefs on the federal government’s pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. The first policy brief makes the following recommendations:

  • CDC needs strong, effective leadership to lead cultural change at the agency, ensuring its scientific integrity and relationship with the public as a trusted source for public health information are preserved.
  • CDC needs a strategic plan to guide and prioritize the agency’s work to align with strategically set goals and include accompanying performance measures.
  • CDC must keep pace with scientific advancement and better fulfill its mission to protect the public health during future responses by developing more frequent and effective partnerships with private industry and academic institutions.


Georgia Senators Push for Closing Medicaid Coverage Gap


Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) have sent a letter to Senate leadership encouraging them to use the President’s proposed infrastructure package to expand Medicaid in the states that have not yet done so. “Closing the coverage gap and providing more Americans with quality, affordable health care coverage is the most effective policy to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities and would be a major step towards decreasing the high rates of uninsured Americans in non-expansion states,” the lawmakers write. They note that they are currently working on legislation to provide health coverage to those living in non-expansion states, and suggest that closing the coverage gap could be done by creating a federal Medicaid look-alike program that is run through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).


Duckworth Requests More Guidance on Mask Usage


Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Il.) has sent a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky requesting recommendations on the usage of masks in school, child care, camp, and sports settings. The lawmaker argues that this guidance is particularly important for parents, caregivers, and people with compromised immune systems. “Though young people are not as likely as seniors or people with certain pre-existing conditions to become severely ill or die from COVID-19, their health is still at risk,” Duckworth writes. “Children now account for over 20% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and several hundred have died. That risk can be mitigated by ubiquitous mask wearing.” On Friday, the CDC updated its guidance for youth camps.


Panels Begin Return to Pre-Pandemic Proceedings


The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee are expected to return to pre-pandemic hearing proceedings following the Memorial Day recess. Senators and witnesses will attend in-person, and individuals who are vaccinated can forgo the wearing of masks. The panels are expected to maintain six feet of distance between people during hearings. Congressional committees each create their own operating rules and regulations; Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has said that his panel will continue holding hybrid hearings for the time being.


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


House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Member Day hearing; 10:00 a.m., June 9

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing “PFAS: the View from Affected Citizens and States;” 10:00 a.m.; June 9

House Homeland Security Committee hearing “Cyber Threats in the Pipeline: Using Lessons from the Colonial Ransomware Attack to Defend Critical Infrastructure;” 12:00 p.m.; June 9

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health legislative hearing “Legislation to Promote Access to Safe Vaccines;” time TBD; June 15


Recently Introduced Health Legislation


H.R.3461 — To amend title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act to improve health care coverage under vision and dental plans, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Clarke, Yvette D. [D-NY-9]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.3463 — To amend the Public Health Service Act to authorize the use of the Strategic National Stockpile to enhance medical supply chain elasticity and establish and maintain domestic reserves of critical medical supplies, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Dingell, Debbie [D-MI-12]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.3467 — To amend the Public Health Service Act to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to support research and programmatic efforts that will build on previous research on the effects of, adverse childhood experiences; Sponsor: Rep. McBath, Lucy [D-GA- 6]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.3468 — To amend the CARES Act to expand a national awareness and outreach campaign to address the importance and safety of plasma donation, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Peters, Scott H. [D-CA-52]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

S.Res.231 — A resolution expressing support for the designation of May 17, 2021, as “DIPG Pediatric Brain Cancer Awareness Day” to raise awareness of and encourage research on diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma tumors and pediatric cancers in general; Sponsor: Sen. Rubio, Marco [R-FL]; Submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent.

S.1793 — A bill to amend title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act to improve health care coverage under vision and dental plans, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Sen. Manchin, Joe, III [D-WV]; Committees: Senate - Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

S.1795 — A bill to address mental health issues for youth, particularly youth of color, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ]; Committees: Senate - Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

S.Res.235 — A resolution designating May 15, 2021, as “National MPS Awareness Day”; Sponsor: Sen. Bennet, Michael F. [D-CO]; Submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent.



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