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Healthcare Today: July 21, 2023


Senate HELP Committee Advances PAHPA Reauthorization Legislation. The Senate Health, Energy, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted 17-3 to report the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) as amended to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate version would reauthorize FDA’s medical countermeasure priority review voucher program until 2028, enable FDA to require notifications from drug makers ahead of drug shortages, and allow FDA to gather supply chain information on active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a similar bill, which passed on a party-line vote, that did not include FDA shortage-related authorities.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Markup of Health Bills. On Wednesday, the E&C Committee held a markup of 15 healthcare-related bills. All pieces of legislation were advanced to the full House, including H.R. 824, Telehealth Benefit Expansion for Workers Act of 2023, H.R. 4421, Preparing for All Hazards and Pathogens Reauthorization Act, H.R. 4420, Preparedness and Response Reauthorization Act, and H.R. 4531, Support for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act.

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Holds Innovation Hearing. The E&C Health Subcommittee held a hearing on “Innovation Saves Lives: Evaluating Medicare Coverage Pathways for Innovative Drugs, Medical Devices, and Technology.” Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY) criticized CMS for limiting the scope of its proposed transitional device coverage plan to only five devices per year. Members stated concerns with CMS’ lack of transparency, oversight, and meeting timelines.

House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee Holds Markup. The Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee held a markup of nine bills to improve the delivery of care, benefits, and services to veterans. The subcommittee advanced H.R.3520, Veteran Care Improvement Act of 2023, H.R.3581, COPE Act, H.R.2683, VA Flood Preparedness Act, H.R.1774, VA Emergency Transportation Act, H.R.2768, PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Program Act, H.R.2818, Autonomy for Disabled Veterans Act, H.R.1278, DRIVE Act, H.R.1639, VA Zero Suicide Demonstration Project Act of 2023, and H.R.1815, Expanding Veterans' Options for Long Term Care Act.

FTC Rescinds Policy Statements Backing PBMs. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted unanimously Thursday to advise state and federal authorities to disregard its past statements and studies that opposed more regulatory oversight and transparency of PBMs. The vote withdrew 11 letters and reports the agency issued between 2004 and 2017warning against state legislation that would have required PBMs to disclose certain information about their business practices and finances to state governments.

HHS Announces $50 Million in New SAMHSA Substance Abuse Grants. HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced five grant programs aimed at combatting substance abuse and the overdose epidemic. The grant awards total $47.8 million and include programs to increase access to medication-assisted treatment, strengthen emergency department alternatives to opioids, prevent underage drinking, expand reentry programs for adults with substance use disorder (SUD), and enhance programming for pregnant and postpartum women with a primary diagnosis of an SUD.

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