Senate to Consider Ebola Legislation in September

The Senate has agreed to consider the Ebola Eradication Act by September 26. S. 1340 would provide relief through USAID for the current Ebola outbreak taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The legislation would clear the way for “multi-sectoral, non-humanitarian, and non-trade related” support, prioritizing activities to improve access to affected communities. It would authorize amounts necessary to effectively respond to the outbreak. USAID would be required to report to Congress on its efforts and any additional authorities required to improve the nation’s response to the outbreak within 30 days. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the bill would cost $70 million through fiscal 2024. As of July 31, the current Ebola outbreak has killed more than 1,800 Congolese. A similar measure (H.R. 3085) has been introduced in the House of Representatives, but it has yet to be considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

W&M to Draft Separate Surprise Billing Legislation

The House Ways and Means Committee is working to draft its own policy to hold patients harmless against surprise insurance gaps, according to the panel’s Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and its Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas). Their effort will be separate from the legislation that has already been advanced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

WH Announces Plans for September Health Policy Release

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway announced last week that the President will release his "elaborate" plan to overhaul the health care system next month. The details of the proposal remain unclear, and congressional Republicans have stated that they are also unfamiliar with any forthcoming proposals. A spokesperson for the President confirmed that the plan will protect people with pre-existing conditions, lower drug prices, end surprise medical bills, and ensure the highest quality of care.

Grassley Pushes for Surprise Inspections of Foreign Drug Manufacturers

Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is requesting that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reinstate unannounced inspections of foreign drug manufacturers. His letter notes that a pilot program under the Obama administration which used unannounced inspections found violations that "otherwise would have been hidden because of the advanced warning system." Sen. Grassley also points toward the importance of unannounced inspections given the recent push by the Administration to import drugs from Canada in an effort to reduce drug prices. The August 6 letter was sent to leaders of both the FDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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