E&C GOP Seek Details on COVID-19 Research

Republican leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has sent letters to three different U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies requesting information about research activities related to COVID-19 and other coronaviruses, including the sources of funding for such research. Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Subcommittee on Health Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Ranking Member Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) are asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide details about their research activities by February 16. Copies of the letters can be found here.

Ways and Means Leadership, Membership Update

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) will assume the position of ranking member on the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee this week, following Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Calif.) departure from Congress. Buchanan is the second- ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) will fill the opening on the committee left by Nunes. Murphy, a urologist, will serve on the Health Subcommittee. Dr. Murphy ran in North Carolina’s Third Congressional District special election in 2019 to replace Rep. Walter B. Jones, Jr., who passed away in office after serving in Congress for more than 22 years. Murphy is the only practicing surgeon in Congress and is also a Vice-Chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus.

McNerney, Langevin to Retire

Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) announced that they will not seek reelection at the end of the 117th Congress. They join 26 other Democrats and 13 Republicans who will not be running for reelection to the House of Representatives in November. McNerney was first elected to Congress in 2016. He is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Langevin has served in the House of Representatives since 2000. He is the first quadriplegic to serve in the House and currently sits on the House Armed Services Committee and Homeland Security Committee.

Cherfilus McCormick Sworn In

Representative-elect Sheila Cherfilus McCormick was sworn in to the House of Representatives last week. She will fill the Florida district 20 seat of the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D), increasing the Democratic majority in the House to 222- 212. Cherfilus-McCormick has most recently worked as the CEO of Trinity Health.

More Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), David Trone (D- Md.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas), and Troy Carter (D-La.) are the latest members to announce that they have tested positive. Massie is the only member in this group known to not be vaccinated. According to GovTrack.us, more than 125 members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since March 2020.

CBO Examines Hospital, Physician Pricing Practices

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a new report examining the potential reasons the prices paid by commercial health insurers for hospital and physician services are higher, rise more quickly, and vary more by area than the prices paid by the Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) program. The agency concludes that greater market power among providers consistently leads to higher prices for commercial insurers. “Commercial insurers may try to obtain lower prices by excluding providers from their networks, but in many cases, their ability to do that is limited,” CBO says. “The prices that Medicare FFS pays providers are set administratively through laws and regulations, and providers can either take them or leave them.” CBO also asserts that providers do not raise the prices they negotiate with commercial insurers to offset the lower prices paid by government programs – also known as cost shifting – as the share of patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid is not related to the higher prices in the commercial market.

GAO Reports on Operation Warp Speed Management

Anew report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) asserts that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assumed control of the effort formerly known as Operation Warp Speed (OWS) without the personnel needed to oversee it properly. Operation Warp Speed refers to the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines previously run by the Department of Defense (DOD). HHS assumed full control of vaccine distribution and supply at the start of this year. GAO reports that HHS will require multiple additional contractors to continue these programs and recommends that DOD work to support HHS in this effort. GAO makes five recommendations related to workforce needs, scheduling best practices for vaccine-related activities, and lessons learned from key stakeholders. HHS did not concur with GAO’s recommendation on workforce needs.

January 24, 2022: | Page 1 Page 2 Page 3



 -  2023

 +  2022

 +  2021

 +  2020

 +  2019

 +  2018