Congress Awaits Health Provisions in President’s Budget
On Tuesday, February 9, President Barack Obama will submit his FY 2017 Budget Request to Congress, which is expected to include several large-scale investments for the nation’s health. Last week, the White House released a “sneak preview” of the Budget, which includes: $755 million for cancer research as part of the “moonshot” to cure cancer; a legislative proposal to provide any state that takes up the Medicaid expansion option the same three years of full federal support that states that expanded in 2014 received; a commitment to changes in the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage, otherwise known as the “Cadillac Tax”; and $1 billion in mandatory funding over two years to address prescription drug abuse and heroin use.
On Wednesday, February 10, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell will provide testimony on the Budget to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The next day, she will also address the Budget in her testimony to the Senate Committee on Finance.
Health Bills Slated for House Floor Consideration
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has announced that several health care bills will be considered on the floor this week.
On Tuesday, the following pieces of health legislation are expected to be considered under suspension of the rules: H.R. 3016, the Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act, as amended, which clarifies the role of podiatrists in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); H.R. 3106, the Construction Reform Act of 2016, which makes certain changes in the administration of Department medical facility construction projects; H.R. 3262, To provide for the conveyance of land of the Illiana Health Care System of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Danville, Illinois; H.R. 4056, To authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs all right, title, and interest of the United States to the property known as “The Community Living Center” at Lake Baldwin Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, Orlando, Florida, as amended; H.R. 4437, To extend the deadline for the submittal of the final report required by the Commission on Care; H.R. 3234, the VA Medical Center Recovery Act, which establishes within the VA an Office of Failing Medical Center Recovery; and H.R. 2915, the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act, which directs the Secretary of the VA to identify mental health care and suicide prevention programs that are effective in treating women veterans.
Later in the week, the House is expected to consider H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015, which seeks to improve and clarify disclosure requirements for restaurants and other retail food establishments.
Senate HELP Committee to Mark Up Health Legislation
On Tuesday, February 9, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a markup to consider several health care bills. In January, Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced the Committee’s schedule for the “step by step” consideration of biomedical innovation bills. This process, aimed at legislation that is somewhat similar to language in the House-passed 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6), begins with this markup.
Legislation to be considered on Tuesday includes: S. 2030, the Advancing Targeted Therapies for Rare Diseases Act of 2015, which allows the sponsor of an application for the approval of a targeted drug to utilize data and information from the sponsor’s previously approved targeted drugs; S. 1622, the FDA Device Accountability Act of 2015, which requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure training on least burdensome requirements for employees who review premarket submissions of medical devices; S. 2014, the Next Generation Researchers Act, which seeks to demonstrate a commitment to our nation’s scientists by increasing opportunities for the development of future researchers; S. 800, the Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at NIH Act, which seeks to improve, coordinate, and enhance National Institutes of Health (NIH) rehabilitation research; S. 849, the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act of 2015, which provides for systematic data collection and analysis and epidemiological research regarding neurological diseases; S. ___, the Preventing Superbugs and Protecting Patients Act; and S. ___, the Improving Health Information Technology Act.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, February 9: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a markup of health care bills, as described above.
- Wednesday, February 10: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “Examining Medicaid and CHIP’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage.”
- Wednesday, February 10: The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing titled “U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2017.”
- Wednesday, February 10: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere will hold a joint hearing titled “The Global Zika Epidemic: Emerging in the Americas.”
- Wednesday, February 10: The House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing titled “Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request.”
- Wednesday, February 10: The House Committee on Rules will meet on H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015.
- Wednesday, February 10: The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing titled “Breaking the Cycle: Mental Health and the Justice System.”
- Wednesday, February 10: The Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing which “will unveil and examine a new, troubling scam by global drug traffickers perpetrated against our nation’s seniors.”
- Thursday, February 11: The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “Choice Consolidation: Improving VA Community Care Billing and Reimbursement.”
- Thursday, February 11: The House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications will hold a hearing titled “Improving the Department of Homeland Security’s Biological Detection and Surveillance Programs.”
- Thursday, February 11: The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing titled “The President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget.”
- Thursday, February 11: The Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold a markup, which will include consideration of: S. 483, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015, which seeks to improve enforcement efforts for prescription drug diversion and abuse; and S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, which authorizes the Attorney General to award grants to address prescription opioid abuse and heroin use.
- Friday, February 12: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing titled “Outbreaks, Attacks, and Accidents: Combatting Biological Threats.”
SAMHSA Releases Proposed Rule Focused on Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records
On Friday, February 5, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a proposed rule titled “Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records.” The proposed rule seeks to amend the Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records regulations, which were last substantively updated in 1987. According to HHS, the proposed rule will “facilitate health information exchange to support delivery system reform efforts” and ensure privacy for patients seeking substance use disorder treatment.
The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on February 9, and comments are due April 11.