LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY

On Wednesday, July 23, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will meet to consider several health related bills, including: S. 315, Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research and Education (MD-CARE) Amendments of 2013; S. 2154, Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act of 2014; S. 531, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Act; S. 2405, Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act; S. 2406, Improving Trauma Care Act of 2014; and S. 2539, Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2014.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will continue its focus on 21st Century Cures by hosting a roundtable on Wednesday, July 23. The discussion will focus on the rise of personalized medicine and innovations in technology. Participants will include representatives from federal agencies, health care providers, academia, the nonprofit sector, and the private sector.

Eager to court the female vote on trips back home during the August recess, Senate Democrats and Republicans have introduced competing bills addressing the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 573 U.S. ___ (2014). The Democratic legislation, S. 2578, essentially reverses the decision that limits access to contraception. It failed on a test vote last week, 56-43. The Republican legislation, S. 2605, reaffirms that employees should be allowed to use their own funds to purchase contraception. The Republican bill is not expected to be considered on the Senate floor.

Partisan politics are also playing out on the other side of the Capitol. The Republican-controlled House Committee on Rules is expected to markup a resolution authorizing the chamber to sue President Barack Obama over his use of executive authority to delay the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. Last week, the Committee on Rules convened legal experts to discuss differing interpretations of the Constitution regarding the role of the presidency. House Democrats have been outspoken against the resolution.

THIS WEEK’S HEARINGS:

  • Tuesday, July 22: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing titled “21st Century Cures: Examining Barriers to Ongoing Evidence Development and Communication.” The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety will hold a hearing titled “Coal Miners’ Struggle for Justice: How Unethical Legal and Medical Practices Stack the Deck Against Black Lung Claimants.”
  • Wednesday, July 23: The House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing on the integrity of the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax credit.
  • Thursday, July 24: The House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on the future of Medicare Advantage health plans.

OTHER

MEDICARE’S FINANCIAL OUTLOOK

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released estimates that in coming decades, growth of federal spending on health care will continue to decrease as a proportion of the overall economy. This decline is due, in part, to cost controls implemented through the Affordable Care Act. Medicare is also estimated to remain financially solvent through 2030. This is five years longer than the CBO had previously estimated.