This week in Washington: Biden Administration expresses support for WTO TRIPS Waiver.


House Energy and Commerce Hearing to Discuss HHS 2022 Budget Request
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on May 12 with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to discuss the HHS 2022 discretionary budget request. Representatives will likely use the hearing to ask Becerra about the Biden administration’s plans to cut prescription drug costs and expand coverage. More information about the hearing can be found here.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans Ask Blinken to Declassify Documents Related to Chinese Military Research
On May 6, House Energy and Commerce Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting a release of unclassified and declassified documents related to a statement in a Jan. 15 fact sheet. The fact sheet, which can be found here, references Chinese military research taking place at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). The WIV has been a focus of U.S. government concerns regarding possible links to the COVID-19 virus origin. In the letter, the representatives argue that declassifying and releasing these documents will help inform a complete investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter requests a response from Secretary Blinken by May 20. The complete letter can be found here.


Sen. Cornyn Continues Hold on Brooks-LaSure’s CMS Administrator Nomination
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has not lifted his hold on a floor vote for Chiquita Brooks-LaSure’s nomination for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator. Sen. Cornyn placed a hold on Brooks-LaSure’s nomination in response to the Biden administration’s April 16 decision to reverse an extension of Texas’s 1115 Medicaid waiver that was passed by the Trump administration. Brooks-LaSure’s nomination cannot move forward until the hold is lifted.

MACPAC Announces New Appointments
On May 3, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced five new appointments and two reappointments to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC). Current MACPAC Chair Melanie Bella will serve a second term. Commissioner Kisha Davis was named vice chair of MACPAC, and her term will end in 2023. Commissioner Katherine Weno was reappointed for a term that ends in 2023. New appointees to MACPAC include Heidi Allen, an associate professor at Columbia University School of Social Work; Robert Duncan, executive vice president of Children’s Wisconsin and president of Children’s Community Health Plan and Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin; Laura Herrera Scott, vice president of clinical strategy and product at Anthem; and Verlon Johnson, senior vice president of corporate strategy at CNSI.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.