May 16, 2022
This Week in Health Policy for May 16
This Week (May 16-20)
House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “Revoking Your Rights: The Ongoing Crisis in Abortion Care Access.”
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on “Cybersecurity in the Health and Education Sectors.”
The House Appropriations Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “FY2023 Budget Request for the Food and Drug Administration.”
The Senate (Special Committee on) Aging will hold a hearing on “Mental Health Care for Older Adults: Raising Awareness, Addressing Stigma, and Providing Support.”
Last Week (May 9-13)
Health Care Highlights
HHS urges states to prepare for the end of the PHE. On Tuesday (May 10), leaders from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to state governors urging them to use the full 12-month period for Medicaid redeterminations and to review the nearly 1,000 Medicaid flexibilities granted during the public health emergency (PHE). The letter stated that the department does “not yet know when the PHE will end,” but reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to giving states at least 60-days’ notice before allowing the PHE to expire. This suggests if the Biden administration does not make an announcement by Monday (May 16), the PHE is likely to continue until at least mid-October. Health care organizations including the American Hospital Association (AHA) urged the administration this week to “maintain the PHE until we experience an extended period of greater stability.”
Biden unveils plan to fight inflation and lower drug costs. On Tuesday (May 10), the White House unveiled the Biden-Harris inflation plan, which touts the administration’s recent move to address the Affordable Care Act’s “family glitch” and calls on Congress to pass legislation to rein in prescription drug prices and health premiums, as well as legislation lower the cost of long-term care.
White House hosts global pandemic response summit. On Thursday (May 12), the White House hosted government and private sector leaders from around the globe for the 2nd Global COVID-19 Summit. During the summit, the White House announced several new efforts to support global vaccination, testing, and treatment efforts and expand countries’ ability to prevent and detect future health threats. During the summit, Vice President Kamala Harris called on Congress to pass supplemental COVID-19 relief funding. Progress on a Senate-negotiated $10 billion COVID-19 relief bill stalled in April in light of objections from both Republicans and Democrats over the Biden administration’s plan to end the use of Title 42, which restricted migrants’ U.S. entry amid the pandemic, on May 23. In the absence of a COVID-19 relief bill, the Biden administration is considering ways it can “claw back” COVID funds. In fact, the Department of Justice already has used the False Claims Act and Stark Law to recoup Paycheck Protection Program loans.
White House announces plan to address nationwide formula shortage. On Thursday (May 12), the White House said the Federal Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Justice will announce steps to combat the shortage of infant formula in the United States, including measures to address price gouging and allow the importation of formula from foreign countries.
White House announces broadband deal. On Monday (May 9), the White House announced a new partnership with 20 internet service providers to increase access to affordable high-speed internet for low-income households. Households can qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program if their income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level or if a member of the household is enrolled in Medicaid or other eligible federal programs. The move comes as federal and state lawmakers consider extending telehealth flexibilities made available during the PHE.
Senate vote to codify Roe v. Wade fails. On Wednesday (May 11), the Senate failed to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act in a 49-52 vote. The bill would have codified a woman’s right to an abortion established in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and barred states from enacting certain restrictions on abortion care, such as mandatory waiting periods.
House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health markup of bipartisan User Fee, mental health and research bills. On Wednesday (May 11), the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health advanced six bipartisan health care bills to the full House Energy & Commerce Committee. Committee leaders expressed strong support for the bills and the importance of passing legislation to reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) user fee agreements, the Food and Drug Amendments of 2022 (H.R. 7667), before the current user fee agreements expire on Sept. 30. Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) noted that while CURES 2.0 was not included in the markup, the committee was able to make progress on key priorities — such as the Advanced Research Project Agency-Health Act, or the ARPA-H Act, (H.R. 5585) — and that the committee will work to advance the rest of CURES 2.0 on a bipartisan basis.
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing on “FY 2023 Budget Request for the National Institutes of Health.” On Wednesday (May 11), the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing to review the National Institutes of Health’s fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request. During the hearing, lawmakers raised concerns about the $5 billion request for the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H.
Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on “FY2023 budget for the Indian Health Service.” On Wednesday (May 11), the Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee held a hearing to review the FY 2023 budget request for the Indian Health Service (IHS). During the hearing, acting IHS Director Elizabeth Fowler told lawmakers the IHS is “chronically underfunded,” and the nearly $30 billion budget increase would provide needed resources.
The House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on “Healthy Aging: Maximizing the Independence, Well-being, and Health of Older Adults.” On Thursday (May 12), the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss policies to improve the health and well-being of older adults. During the hearing, lawmakers and witnesses discussed the need to invest in evidence-based healthy aging programs, including those that support seniors’ nutrition, mental health, and primary care, as well as those designed to prevent falls among seniors.
The House Veterans' Affairs Health Subcommittee hearing on “Innovative Care Delivery at VA: Partnering to Improve Infrastructure and Operational Efficiency.” On Thursday (May 12), the House Veterans' Affairs Health Subcommittee held a hearing on ways to improve the VA’s aging infrastructure. Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX), who led the hearing, emphasized the importance of VA engaging in innovative partnerships and acquisitions to improve veterans’ access to care.
Reports, Studies, and Journals
JAMA: Trends of Prescription Drug Manufacturer Rebates in Commercial Health Insurance Plans, 2015-2019. The researchers conducted an economic evaluation of prescription drug rebates in the commercial market and found the median rebate rose steadily from 2015 to 2019 across individual, small group, and large group health plans. The authors noted that these rebates do not necessarily reduce patients’ cost sharing when passed on to plans.
CDC’s National Vital Statistics Rapid Release: Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts. Preliminary data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics show more than 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021, up 15% from 2020. The data show overdose-related deaths disproportionately impacted Black, Native American, and Hispanic populations.
CDC’s National Health Statistics Reports: Telemedicine Use in Children Aged 0-17 Years: United States, July-December 2020. The CDC report found about 17.5% of children under age 18, or 12.6 million children, used telemedicine within the past 12 months. The study was conducted between July and December 2020, meaning the data includes telemedicine use from before the COVID-19 pandemic.