On January 27, 2015, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on bipartisan public health legislation, including:
- Ensuring Patient Access to Effective Drug Enforcement Act (to improve enforcement efforts regarding prescription drug diversion and abuse);
- Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act (to amend the Controlled Substances Act to improve the efficiency, transparency, and consistency of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s process for scheduling new drugs);
- Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act (to provide demonstration grants to states with a shortage of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to streamline licensing requirements for military veteran EMTs);
- Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act (to reauthorize grants supporting state and rural development of trauma systems and authorize new regionalized emergency care model pilot projects); a bill to reauthorize language from the Public Health Service Act to fund trauma care centers; and
- National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) Reauthorization Act (to reauthorize programs to support state prescription drug monitoring programs).
On January 28, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved H.R. 22, the “Hire More Heroes Act," which is intended to allow businesses to hire veterans without them counting as a full-time employee under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if the veteran already has medical coverage through the TRICARE program or the Veterans Administration. The House approved the legislation earlier this month.
Looking ahead, the following hearings are scheduled next week:
- A February 3 Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing entitled “Examining the U.S. Public Health Response to Seasonal Influenza”; and
- A February 4 Senate Finance Committee hearing to consider the HHS budget request and review the Department’s operations, including ACA implementation. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell is scheduled to testify.