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.


Lawmakers Briefed on Coronavirus Outbreak

Areas in central China are experiencing an outbreak of a new SARS-like coronavirus that can cause sometimes fatal pneumonia. The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan in early December. Since then, cases have been reported in South Korea, Thailand, and Japan. There have been 1,372 confirmed cases of the virus in total, and 41 deaths. China has shut down travel to and from cities around Wuhan. The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that the virus can be passed from human to human, not just from animal to human.

As of Sunday afternoon, five cases have been confirmed in the United States, all people who recently traveled to China. More cases are expected to emerge in the coming weeks. The State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a travel advisory, warning U.S. citizens against taking unnecessary trips to the affected areas of China. Airport checkpoints have already been set up in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to screen passengers coming from China.

Lawmakers and congressional staff have been briefed by the CDC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and State Department officials about the situation. Lawmakers have called on China to be fully transparent about the virus outbreak, and some have raised concerns about whether China is doing enough to prevent its spread. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, has said that Congress is prepared to provide whatever funding is necessary for agencies to combat the virus.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) has written to CDC Director Robert Redfield to express her concerns with the spread of the coronavirus. “Given the spread of this virus, as well as indications that human-to-human transmission is occurring, it is imperative that Congress and the American people be kept up-to-date on the latest steps that CDC is taking in light of these developments,” the letter states. New Jersey senators Cory Booker (D) and Robert Menendez (D) have called on Redfield and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to send supplemental resources to U.S. airports that screen passengers daily from affected countries.

NH Delegation Requests Continued Opioid Response Grant Funding

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Reps. Anne Kuster (D-N.H.) and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) are asking the Trump administration to continue funding for the state opioid response (SOR) grant program in the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget proposal. They request at least $1.5 billion be allocated for the program in the coming year, in line with the amount provided in FY 2019 and 2020. They also request that the administration support continued flexibility for the use of the SOR grants so that states can address the full range of substance use disorders (SUD).

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