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Pallone on Committee Passage of 17 Health Bills

Jul 15, 2020
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) released the following statement today after the Committee voted to favorably report 17 bills to the full House of Representatives that will improve quality and access to health care:

“Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed 17 bills that will help ensure Americans have access to the health care they need during this unprecedented crisis.  Taken together, these bills will expand coverage and access to care, strengthen mental health parity, provide mental health support to first responders, enhance transparency and operability of the Strategic National Stockpile and improve the safety of America’s food, drugs and medical devices.  I am grateful to members on both sides of the aisle for their hard work on these important bills and I look forward to their consideration on the House Floor.”

H.R. 2477, the “Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act of 2019,” was introduced by Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).  The legislation would improve beneficiary outreach and education, reduce gaps in coverage, and simplify the Medicare Part B enrollment process.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 3935, the “Protecting Patients Transportation to Care Act,” was introduced by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Tom Graves (R-GA) and Sanford Bishop of (D-GA).  The legislation would amend the Medicaid statute to include non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) in the list of mandatory Medicaid benefits by codifying current Medicaid NEMT regulations. The bill would also require state Medicaid programs to have in place a utilization management process for the benefit.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5201, the “Telemental Health Expansion Act of 2019,” was introduced by Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Bill Johnson (R-OH).  The legislation would permanently include a patient’s home as an eligible originating site for mental health services delivered via telehealth and remove Medicare’s geographic restrictions for such services, enabling providers to be reimbursed by Medicare for mental health services delivered via telehealth in urban and rural areas and in the patient’s home.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5534, the “Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act,” was introduced by Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Michael Burgess (R-TX).  The legislation would permanently remove the 36-month limit for Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs following a kidney transplant.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 7539, the “Strengthening Behavioral Health Parity Act,” was introduced by Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Bilirakis, Katie Porter (D-CA) and Fred Upton (R-MI).  The legislation would help improve and strengthen enforcement of existing mental health parity laws.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 1646, the “Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Act of 2019” or the “HERO Act of 2019,” was introduced by Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA).  The legislation would create a data system at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to capture public safety officer suicide incidences and study successful interventions, authorize grants for peer support behavioral health and wellness programs within fire departments and emergency medical service agencies, and require the development of best practices for addressing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in public safety officers and educational materials.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 2117, the “Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research Act of 2019” or the “FASTER Act of 2019,” was introduced by Rep. Matsui.  The legislation would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to include sesame as a major allergen and allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), through regulation, to add other food ingredients as major allergens based on the prevalence and severity of allergic reactions to the food ingredient.  Additionally, the bill would require FDA to include patient experience data on treatments for patients with food allergies in its reports on patient experience data.  The bill was favorably reported by voice vote.

H.R. 2271, the “Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act,” was introduced by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Tom Cole (R-OK) and Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA).  The legislation would require CDC to revise the Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Investigation Reporting Form, authorize CDC to make grants to improve the completion of comprehensive death scene investigations for sudden unexplained infant death (SUID) and sudden unexplained death in children (SUDC), authorize grants through the Administration for Children and Families to assist states in investing in core capacity to review 100 percent of all infant and child deaths and to develop review programs and prevention strategies, authorize new grants through the Health Services and Resources Administration to develop and implement educational programs and outreach related to sleep-related SUID and programs to develop and deploy support services for families who have had a child die of SUID or SUDC, express that it is the sense of Congress that additional research is needed to improve the understanding of epidemiology of SUID and SUDC and would require the
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to report data on SUID and SUDC.  The bill was favorably reported by voice vote.

H.R. 2468, the “School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act,” was introduced by Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Phil Roe (R-TN).  The legislation would add a preference for grants to those states that have additional access to certain health care professionals and programs.  To be eligible for this preference, states would have to require: (1) the presence of a school nurse or other trained personnel on school premises during school operating hours; (2) that there be a school-based allergies and asthma program, including a method to identify all students in the school with a diagnosis of allergies and asthma; (3) an individual student allergies and asthma action plan for each student with a diagnosis of allergies and asthma; (4) education for staff about allergies and asthma; (5) efforts to reduce environmental triggers of allergies and asthma; and (6) a coordinated support system for students.  The bill was favorably reported by voice vote.

H.R. 4564, the “Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2019,” was introduced by Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Don Beyer (D-VA) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA).  The legislation would increase the authorization funding level of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program to $50 million each year, from Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 through FY 2022.  The bill also directs HHS to establish a plan for maintaining the program and includes a pilot program to research, analyze, and employ various innovative technologies and platforms for suicide prevention.  The bill was favorably reported by voice vote.

H.R. 4585, the “Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act,” was introduced by Reps. Beyer and Greg Gianforte (R-MT).  The legislation would direct HHS, in coordination with CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to carry out a national suicide prevention media campaign to advertise the new 9-8-8 number, when it becomes effective, raise awareness for suicide prevention resources, and cultivate a more effective discourse on how to prevent suicide.  The bill would also provide guidance to TV and social media companies on how to talk about suicide by creating a best practices toolkit.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 4712, the “Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act,” was introduced by Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Carter and David McKinley (R-WV).  The legislation would update the Orphan Drug Act to require drug manufacturers seeking orphan drug designations to demonstrate the absence of any reasonable expectation that the costs they incur in developing and making those drugs available in the United States for such disease or condition will be recovered.  The bill, as amended, would also direct FDA and the drug manufacturer to take into consideration the sales of all drugs for the rare disease or condition developed by the same manufacturer under the same orphan drug designation. The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 4866, the “National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act of 2019,” was introduced by Chairman Pallone and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY).  The legislation would amend the 21st Century Cures Act to direct FDA to designate National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (NCEs).  NCEs would work with FDA and industry to craft a national framework for continuous manufacturing implementation, including supporting additional research and development of this technology, workforce development, standardization and collaborating with manufacturers to support adoption of continuous manufacturing.  The bill authorizes $80 million to be appropriated for NCEs each year from FY 2021 through FY 2025.  The bill was favorably reported by voice vote.

H.R. 5619, the “Suicide Prevention Act,” was introduced by Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Matsui.  The legislation would establish two grant programs to prevent self-harm and suicide. The first program would authorize CDC to award grants to State, local, and Tribal health departments to expand surveillance of self-harm and the second program would authorize SAMHSA to award grants to hospital emergency departments for programs to prevent self-harm and suicide attempts among patients after discharge.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5663, the “Safeguarding Therapeutics Act,” was introduced by Reps. Guthrie and Eliot Engel (D-NY).   The legislation would extend FDA’s administrative destruction authority to medical devices, which would allow FDA to destroy certain imported medical devices, such as diagnostic tests or surgical masks in instances where FDA believes such medical devices are adulterated, misbranded or unapproved and may pose a threat to the public health, as the agency currently does with regard to drugs.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 5668, the “Making Objective Drug Evidence Revisions for New Labeling Act of 2020” or the “MODERN Labeling Act of 2020,” was introduced by Reps. Matsui and Guthrie.  The legislation would give additional authority to FDA to require modifications of outdated labeling for generic drugs.  The bill would also require FDA to report any actions taken under this new authority to update labeling for covered drugs, including the number of drugs, description of the changes and the rationale, as well as any FDA recommendations to modify the program, among other things.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

H.R. 7574, the “Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act of 2020,” was introduced by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Susan Brooks (R-IN).  The legislation would make several improvements to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and incorporates language from a number of bipartisan bills introduced in the 116th Congress.  Specifically, the bill would improve the financial security of the SNS by authorizing the sale of products to other Federal departments or agencies from within six months of product expiration.  It would also improve the ability of the SNS to maintain and procure medical supplies by requiring the Secretary of HHS to ensure that the contents of the SNS are in good working order and, as necessary, conduct maintenance on contents of the stockpile, among other provisions.  The bill was favorably reported, as amended, by voice vote.

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