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Healthcare Today - February 16, 2024


House Energy & Commerce Health Committee Holds Legislative Hearing: On Wednesday, the House Energy& Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a legislative hearing on several health program reauthorizations, including the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, the SIREN Reauthorization Act, the Emergency Medical Services for Children's Program Act, the Multi Cancer Early Detection Act, and other legislative proposals. Many bills forwarded have bipartisan and bicameral support, and the Subcommittee is pressing for their passage amidst current Congressional deadlock. 


House Small Business Committee Holds Hearing on EPA Regulation: On Wednesday, the House Committee on Small Business, chaired by Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) held a hearing on “burdensome” EPA regulations and their impact on American businesses. Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA) and Rep. Rob Stauber (R-MN) were especially concerned with EPA regulations “stifling” medical innovation, as Rep. Stauber specifically pointed out the potential impacts of EPA’s proposed rules to limit ethylene oxide as a sterilizer. 


House Budget Committee Holds Hearing on CBO Projections: On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), held a 10-hour hearing featuring CBO Director Phillip Swagel on the Office’s processes for projecting policy budgets. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) pointed out issues related to the increased costs to the federal government of delaying treatments until the age of Medicare eligibility. Other Democrats asked questions about whether the ACA has reduced cost growth in Medicare, to which Swagel replied there was evidence that may be the case with certain provisions of the law. Swagel also agreed with Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS) that Congress must “take action to adjust our fiscal trajectory.”


FTC Launches Probe on Drug Shortages: On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission announced a new investigative probe and concurrent RFI to better understand the cause of key American drug shortages, especially regarding cancer and pediatric drugs. The Commission states the inquiry will center on GPOs and drug wholesalers, their centralized role in the U.S. drug market, and their compensation models. Public comments on the issue can be submitted via the Federal Register and are due by April 15.  


Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) Leading Effort for Permanent Telehealth Legislation: On Tuesday, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) stated his desire to see permanent telehealth access legislation passed before the end of the calendar year. Warner spoke to the National Rural Health Association in Washington, saying telehealth waivers cannot be "another extender”. Sen. Warner has consistently led efforts to expand telehealth accessibility. He is an original cosponsor and a tireless advocate for the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, legislation that would expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare and make permanent COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities. He also discussed his work on the Senate Finance Committee to seek policy advising on the issue from HHS and Secretary Xavier Becerra. 

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