Health Subcommittee Chair Guthrie Opening Statement at Subcommittee Markup of 17 Bills
Washington, D.C. — Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY) delivered the following opening remarks at today’s Health Subcommittee markup of 17 bills.
Excerpts and highlights below:
HELPING BABIES & FIGHTING THE OPIOID CRISIS
“Today we are marking up legislation to fight the opioid crisis, promote access to life-saving therapies for rare and life-threatening diseases, and to bolster our ability to effectively respond to emerging biological and pathogenic threats.
“We are also continuing this committee’s work to address the fentanyl and opioid crisis.
“First, we will be marking up legislation that I am leading alongside Representative Kuster to reauthorize key provisions from the 2018 Support for Patients and Communities Act before their expiration on September 30.
“This bill, H.R. 4531, the Support for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act of 2023, would provide access to life-saving treatment and recovery support services, prevention programming, and long-term recovery services for individuals seeking help overcoming their substance use disorder.
“This bill includes the scheduling of Xylazine.
“Xylazine, also known as Tranq, is an animal tranquilizer that is increasingly found in illicit opioids and other drugs.
“It does not respond to overdose reversal medications, like naloxone, which can make overdoses more fatal.
“This bill places Xylazine in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act, which will help our law enforcement keep this substance off our streets while maintaining access for veterinarians and ranchers to use on animals.
“The bill would also lift unnecessary barriers to treatment for vulnerable populations, by promoting sustained access to medication assisted treatment for Medicaid beneficiaries and access to long-term recovery services for individuals.
“H.R. 4531 also includes solutions that would promote access to long-term recovery services, like workforce training and peer support services.
“This also includes reauthorizing a key priority of mine, the Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers program, which provides targeted resources to communities that are significantly impacted by the overdose epidemic.”
PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD PREPAREDNESS
“Next is a set of bills to ensure our public health system is prepared to respond to emerging health threats.
“Mr. Hudson has two bills to address the emerging treats: H.R. 4421, Preparing for All Hazards and Pathogens Reauthorization Act, and H.R. 4420, Preparedness and Response Reauthorization Act.
“These two bills will accomplish several goals.
“First, both pieces of legislation will streamline our response infrastructure within the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, or ASPR.
“Additionally, these bills include efforts to shore up our diagnostic testing infrastructure and domestic manufacturing capacity for medical countermeasures during a future public health emergency, areas of weakness in our current system that we all saw firsthand falter during our initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On top of that, these bills also contain several provisions focused on improvements to our Strategic National Stockpile, including clarifying ASPR’s responsibility over the Strategic National Stockpile.
“Many of the provisions incorporated in H.R. 4420 and 4421 are bipartisan, and I appreciate Mr. Hudson’s long-standing leadership on these issues.”
WORKING TO ADDRESS DRUG SHORTAGES
“Despite these significant improvements to our public health system, it is disappointing that these bills and overall efforts to reauthorize many of these programs is becoming a partisan exercise, through no fault of committee Republicans.
“We have been clear about the need to address drug shortages, which was why in March of this year, we sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration requesting information related to certain drugs in shortage, as well as how the agency has used its existing authorities to address ensure these drugs can get to patients as quickly as possible and ensure there are no future shortages.
“Chair Rodgers and Senator Crapo also released a request for information to solicit feedback from a wide range of stakeholders and identify thoughtful, targeted solutions to address these shortages, and announced yesterday we’re hopeful to release a discussion draft in the coming weeks.
“Committee Republicans stand ready to address this important issue, but we have made clear on countless occasions that this is not the process to engage on those.”
ADDITIONAL SOLUTIONS TO HELP VULNERABLE PATIENTS
“Finally, there is a set of public health bills that reauthorize programs that provide support for patients and their families.
“This includes H.R. 3391 from Mr. Bilirakis to help identify the root causes of pediatric cancers and other conditions, H.R. 3226 from Dr. Miller-Meeks and Ms. Eshoo to support better outcomes for preterm babies, in addition to legislation to advance our knowledge of rare diseases that will help lead to the availability of therapies for these diseases.
“In closing, I am proud of the legislation we are marking up today and I look forward to advancing these important bills to the full committee.”