This week in Washington: Senate agrees on infrastructure compromise, budget resolution with reconciliation instructions to be voted on.


76 Members of Congress Request CMS Guidance for States to Extend Postpartum Medicaid Coverage
On July 26, a group of 14 Senate and 62 House members wrote to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure requesting that CMS take immediate steps to implement the State plan option authority authorized by the American Rescue Plan to provide 12 months’ postpartum Medicaid coverage. The letter encourages CMS to issue guidance in the form of a State Medicaid Director Letter with an accompanying toolkit for states to facilitate implementation of the State plan no later than April 1, 2022. The letter can be found here.

Rep. Trone’s Bill to Safely Dispose of Opioids Heads to President Biden’s Desk
On July 28, Rep. David Trone (D-MD) announced that his bill, the Dispose Unused Medications and Prescription (DUMP) Opioids Act, passed the House floor and will now head to President Biden’s desk to be signed. The House bill was cosponsored by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA). The identical Senate version of the bill was introduced by Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) and passed the Senate earlier this year with unanimous consent. The DUMP Opioids Act would expand the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 to allow anyone to dispose of controlled substance medications at VA center drop boxes. The bill text can be found here.


Infrastructure Bill Compromise Includes Two Drug-Related Offsets
On July 28, the Senate voted 67-32 to take up a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill after a compromise was reached. The bill still needs to be turned into legislative text and pass both the Senate and the House. The infrastructure deal includes two offsets related to drugs: it would delay the Trump-era Part D Drug Rebate Rule and require drug companies to refund Medicare for leftover medicine when vials contain more than patients need. The rebate rule was intended to eliminate Part D rebates unless they are shared upfront at the point of sale, and its delay will offset $49 billion. The measure, which requires drug companies to pay back Medicare Part B for unused portions of drugs packaged in vials, would save $3 billion over a decade.

Sens. Cassidy and Schatz Introduce Public Health Emergency Response and Accountability Act
On June 27, Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Public Health Emergency Response and Accountability Act. The bill would provide automatic funding for a new Public Health Emergency Fund based on a formula similar to the budget authority provided to FEMA, with the goal of facilitating a quick response to future public health emergencies.
The bill text can be found here.

Senators Ask HHS to Support Policies that Would Allow Americans to Personally Import Certain Prescription Drugs from Canada
On July 27, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Angus King (I-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting that the agency support policies to allow Americans to personally import certain prescription drugs from Canada. The letter states that the Biden administration’s recent Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy recognized that importing safe drugs from Canada could lower U.S. prescription drug prices. Sens. Klobuchar, Grassley, King and Collins recently introduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, which would allow for the importation of certain prescription drugs from approved Canadian pharmacies.
The letter can be found here.

Senate to Hold Executive Session on Nominations and Bills
On Aug. 3, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold an executive session to consider several nominations and bills. The executive session agenda items can be found below:

  • Nomination of David Weil to be the administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor
  • Nomination of Catherine Lhamon to be assistant secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education
  • Nomination of Javier Ramirez to be the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
  • S. 1486, The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
  • S. 1543, The Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act
  • S. 2425, The Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act
  • S. 2401, The 21st Century Assistive Technology Act
  • Any additional business for consideration

The meeting will not be broadcast to the public. For more information, click here.

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