Launch of Bipartisan Personalized Medicine Caucus

Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) announced the launch of the Congressional Personalized Medicine Caucus last week. The group will hold its first briefing on February 26 to educate Congress and the public about the benefits of early detection, targeted treatment, and improved prevention strategies in personalized medicine.

Maloney, Warren Request Info on Gun-Related Health Care Costs

House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have written to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to request more information on U.S. health care costs associated with gun injuries. The lawmakers express interest in the cost of readmissions, rehab, long-term care, and other treatments resulting from gun violence particularly to federal health care programs.

President’s FY 2021 Budget Proposal Expected Today

President Trump is set to release his fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget proposal sometime today. Early reporting on the proposed budget suggest a 5% cut in domestic spending, including $135 billion in savings from drug pricing reform. The budget request is a largely symbolic document outlining the administration’s priorities that is unlikely to be considered by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives as it begins the annual appropriations process.

FDA Looks To Shorten Biosimilar Approval Process

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a guidance document last week that would shorten the application process for biosimilar manufacturers looking to expand the use of their products for different health conditions. The proposal would streamline the agency’s expanded-use application review process from 10 months to six months, and clarify that biosimilar manufacturers can request delay of FDA’s consideration of a specific use for the drug until reference product patents or exclusivity periods expire. The guidance is a part of the administration’s effort to increase generic competition and lower drug prices. It was also announced last week that the FDA will work together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to address false or misleading biologic product advertising and to prevent brand manufacturers from blocking biosimilar competition.

BPC Releases Bipartisan Rx for America’s Health Care

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) published a new report last week making recommendations for reforming the nation’s health care system. The BPC proposes a federally-funded and state-administered reinsurance program, auto-enrollment for subsidy-eligible individuals, restoration of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, expansion of federal outreach and enrollment activities, and the creation of premium tax credits for the middle-income population. The authors of the report argue in favor of limiting or eliminating the preferred tax treatment of employer-sponsored insurance, and of repealing the employer mandate. In an effort to reduce system-wide costs, the report recommends requiring hospitals to enter into negotiations with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). While many rural providers would be exempted, hospitals that choose not to negotiate would be prohibited from charging private insurers more than amounts defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FTC. The report would address the problem of surprise insurance gaps by limiting charges for out-of-network services to in-network rates. The BPC also suggests creating a state option for 12-month continuous Medicaid eligibility for adults.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Markups

House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing “Achieving Health Equity for America’s Minority Veterans;” 10:00 a.m., 210 Capitol Bldg.; February 11

Senate Judiciary Committee hearing “The Infant Patient: Ensuring Appropriate Medical Care for Children Born Alive;” 10:00 a.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.; February 11

House Education and Labor Committee markup of H.R 5800, Ban Surprise Billing Act; 10:15 a.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.; February 11

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Enviornment and Climate Change hearing “EPA’s Lead and Copper Proposal: Failing to Protect Public Health;” 10:30 a.m., 2322 Rayburn Bldg.; February 11

House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hearing “Balancing Work, Health, and Family: The Case for Expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act;” 2:00 p.m., 2175 Rayburn Bldg.; February 11

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to examine protecting the United States from global pandemics; 9:30 a.m., 342 Dirksen Bldg.; February 12

Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing “There’s No Place Like Home: Home Health Care in Rural America;” 9:30 a.m., 366 Dirksen Bldg.; February 12

House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization hearing “Data Privacy and Portability at VA: Protecting Veterans’ Personal Data;” 10:00 a.m., 210 Capitol Bldg.; February 12

House Budget Committee hearing “The President’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget;” 10:00 a.m., 210 Cannon Bldg.; February 12

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing “Protecting Women’s Access to Reproductive Health Care;” 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; February 12

House Ways and Means Committee markup of surprise billing measure; time and place TBD; February 12

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