U.S. Senate

  • On July 6, 2015, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee convened a hearing entitled "Small Business Health Care Challenges and Opportunities." Witnesses included: Thomas Harte, owner of Landmark Benefits; James Scott, owner of Applied Policy; Sabrina Corlette, Senior Research Fellow and Project Director, Georgetown University; and Kelly Conklin, owner of Foley Waite, LLC. More information on the hearing may be found here.
  • On July 8, 2015, the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee convened a hearing entitled “Stopping an Avian Influenza Threat to Animal and Public Health”. Witnesses for the hearing included: John R. Clifford, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Anne Schuchat, M.D., Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Assistant Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); Christopher P. Currie, Director, Homeland Security and Justice, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); Jack Gelb, Jr., Ph.D., Director, Avian Biosciences Center, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Delaware; and Scott Schneider, Owner, Nature Link Farm, and President, Wisconsin Poultry and Egg Industries Association. More information on the hearing may be found here.

House of Representatives

  • On July 10, 2015, the House passed the “21st Century Cures Act” (H.R. 6) as amended by a vote of 344-77. Five amendments were passed; an amendment by Representative Dave Brat (R-VA), which would have made new funding provisions discretionary, instead of mandatory, failed. The measure now heads to the Senate. On July 8th, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 6. In the document, the President praises certain aspects of the bill, while expressing concern about the use of oil sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a source of funding. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate on the measure may be found here.
  • On July 8, 2015, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee convened a hearing entitled “Medicaid at 50: Strengthening and Sustaining the Program.” Witnesses included Vikki Wachino, Deputy Administrator, CMS, and Director, Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, CMS; Carolyn Yocom, Director, Health Care, Government Accountability Office (GAO); accompanied by Katherine Iritani, Director, Health Care, GAO; and Anne Schwartz, Executive Director, Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC). More information on the hearing may be found here. During the hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) cautioned that the trajectory of Medicaid spending is problematic, and he noted that program outlays are projected to double in the next decade. “I believe that Congress will be increasingly forced to take steps to modernize the Medicaid program,” he said. Witness Carolyn Yocom, GAO, provided an overview of GAO findings as outlined in a recently-released report entitled “Medicaid: Overview of Key Issues Facing the Program”.
  • On July 8, 2015, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill by voice vote. The bill provides for approximately $2.6 billion in discretionary funding for the FDA. Total funding for the FDA, including revenue from user fees, is $4.6 billion – $106 million above fiscal year 2015. Within this total, food safety activities are increased by $41.5 million, and medical product safety activities are increased by $4.2 million. More information on the measure may be found here.