Finance Committee Releases Third Mental Health Discussion Draft

The Senate Finance Committee released its third discussion draft of legislation to address the nation’s mental health care system last week. The bipartisan package includes provisions to support 400 new Medicare-funded residency slots per year to train psychiatrists, provide Medicare Part B coverage for family and marriage therapists and mental health counselors, and expand social worker services. The bill would also expand Medicare’s Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) Physician Bonus Program and increase the number of mental health care providers in the Medicaid program. The Committee has previously released related discussion drafts on youth mental health and to address the role of telehealth in mental health care.

COVID-19 Panel Releases Report on Nursing Home Neglect

The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released a report last week detailing alleged neglect by five for-profit nursing home chains during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the report, companies were short-staffed, failed to provide proper personal protective equipment, and encouraged employees to continue working with COVID-19 symptoms or confirmed cases of COVID-19. The report argues that these problems were exacerbated by opaque ownership structures that allowed the companies to avoid accountability. The panel’s investigation examined 850 facilities that serve more than 80,000 residents across the country.

Senate Confirms New OSTP Director

The Senate confirmed Arati Prabhakar, PhD as the next director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in a 56-40 vote. Prabhakar will be the first woman, immigrant, and person of color to lead the White House’s science office. She is an engineer and the former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). With her confirmation, Prabhakar also becomes Chief Advisor to the President for Science and Technology -- a cabinet-level position.

NIH Dedicates New Alzheimer’s Research Building to Retiring Sen. Roy Blunt

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Lawrence Tabak dedicated the new Roy Blunt Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, which is located on the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., last week. The building will house the NIH Intramural Research Program’s Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias. The facility is named in honor of Senator Blunt (R-Mo.), who will be retiring from Congress when his current term ends, in recognition of his leadership and commitment to public health, research, and the NIH.

FDA Releases Guidance to Increase Access to Naloxone

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an immediately-in-effect guidance last week regarding the distribution of approved naloxone products. Exemption and Exclusion from Certain Requirements of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) for the Distribution of FDA-Approved Naloxone Products During the Opioid Public Health Emergency clarifies that the agency will not enforce certain Drug Supply Chain Security Act requirements, such as federal product tracing and verification requirements, for harm reduction programs distributing FDA-approved naloxone to underserved communities while an opioid public health emergency (PHE) declaration is in place. Wholesale distributor licensing requirements will also not apply to harm-reduction suppliers during the PHE. The guidance is intended to address obstacles to naloxone access but does not change the prescription-only status of naloxone products. It is a part of the agency’s work on the FDA Overdose Prevention Framework to address the opioid PHE.

IRS Releases Guidance on Improperly Forgiven PPP Loans

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued guidance regarding improper forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The guidance confirms that if a taxpayer’s loan has been forgiven based upon misrepresentations or omissions, the taxpayer is not eligible to exclude the forgiveness from their income on their taxes. Under the terms of the PPP loan program, lenders can forgive the full amount of the loan if the recipient was eligible to receive the PPP loan, the loan had been used to pay eligible expenses, and the loan recipient applied for loan forgiveness.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Markups

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing “Veteran Suicide Prevention: Capitalizing on What Works and Increasing Innovative Approaches;” 10:00 a.m.; September 29

House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing “Examining the Harm to Patients from Abortion Restrictions and the Threat of a National Abortion Ban;” 10:00 a.m.; September 29

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hearing “Trustworthy AI: Managing the Risks of Artificial Intelligence;” 10:30 a.m.; September 29

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

S.Res.771 — A resolution supporting the designation of September 19, 2022, as “National Stillbirth Prevention Day”, recognizing tens of thousands of American families that have endured a stillbirth, and seizing the opportunity to keep other families from experiencing the same tragedy; Sponsor: Merkley, Jeff [Sen.-D-OR]; Committees: Senate - Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

S.Res.772 — A resolution recognizing the seriousness of myotonic dystrophy and expressing support for the designation of September 15, 2022, as “International Myotonic Dystrophy Awareness Day”; Sponsor: Kaine, Tim [Sen.-D-VA]; Committees: Senate - Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

H.Res.1363 — Supporting the designation of September 19, 2022, as “National Stillbirth Prevention Day”, recognizing tens of thousands of American families that have endured a stillbirth, and seizing the opportunity to keep other families from experiencing the same tragedy; Sponsor: Adams, Alma S. [Rep.-D-NC-12]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.Res.1370 — Supporting the goals and ideals of National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day; Sponsor: Lee, Barbara [Rep.-D-CA-13]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

H.R.8876 — The Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act of 2022; Sponsor: Davis, Danny K. [Rep.-D-IL-7]; Committees: House - Ways and Means; Energy and Commerce

H.R.8877 — To direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to evaluate the extent to which the substitution of interchangeable biological products may be impeded by differences between the system for determining a biological product to be interchangeable and the system for assigning therapeutic equivalence ratings to drugs, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Miller-Meeks, Mariannette [Rep.-R-IA-2]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

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