There has been a flurry of recent legislative activity as the 110th Congress prepares to adjourn in the coming days. Congress has taken action on a wide range of health policy bills, addressing such issues as FDA drug and device approvals, internet pharmacy regulation, health care workforce issues, insurance coverage, and medical treatment, and patent protection for antibiotics. Specifically, the following legislation has been approved by the House and Senate and now await the President’s signature:
- H.R. 6353, the “Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act,” which would prohibit the sale of controlled substances over the Internet without a valid prescription and subject on-line pharmacies to a series of new restrictions.
- S. 3560, the “QI Program Supplemental Funding Act,” which would authorize an additional $45 million for the Medicare Qualifying Individuals (QI) program, which helps certain low-income individuals pay their Medicare Part B premiums. The legislation also includes provisions to modify the patent protections applicable to antibiotics and clarify the ability of generic drug companies to gain approval of and market generic antibiotics. In addition, the bill would expand the education activities under the Medicaid Integrity Program (MIP) and extend funding for the Medicare Improvement Fund to make improvements under the original Medicare program.
- Several measures aimed at expanding disease research and information resources, including: H.R. 1157, which would authorize grants for the development and operation of research centers for the study of environmental factors that may be related to the etiology of breast cancer; H.R. 1532, which would reauthorize the Preventive Health Services Regarding Tuberculosis program; H.R. 5265, which would promote research into the causes and treatments of various forms of Muscular Dystrophy; S. 1810, to authorize the HHS Secretary to collect and disseminate information regarding Down syndrome or other prenatally or postnatally diagnosed diseases and to coordinate the provision of support services for those who receive a diagnosis of one of those diseases; and S. 1382, which would authorize funding for the establishment of a national registry for the collection and storage of data on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
- S. 2932, which would reauthorize the poison center national toll-free number, provide grants for poison centers, and expand poison prevention education efforts.
- S. 1760, which would reauthorize the Healthy Start Initiative, which provides grants to reduce infant mortality and improve maternal health.
- H.R. 1343, which would provide funding to enable health centers to serve medically underserved populations and reauthorize the National Health Service Corps Scholarship and Loan Repayment programs.
In addition, the following bills have been approved by the House but are awaiting Senate action.
- H.R. 1014, the Heart Disease Education, Analysis Research, and Treatment (HEART) for Women Act, which would require new drug, biologics, and device applications submitted to FDA to include any clinical data possessed by the sponsor that relates to safety or effectiveness by gender, age, and racial subgroups. This information would be posted on the internet. The bill also would authorize research and public health activities to reduce cardiovascular disease in women.
- H.R. 6908, the “HIPAA Recreational Injury Technical Correction Act,” which would require timely disclosure of limitations and restrictions on coverage under group health plans.
- H.R. 758, which would require health insurers to cover minimum lengths of stay and secondary consultations for patients undergoing procedures to treat and diagnose breast cancer.
- H.R. 2583, the “Physician Workforce and Graduate Medical Education Enhancement Act ,” which would authorize a loan repayment program for hospitals to start a residency training program.
- H.R. 6568, which would expand research and educational activities related to pulmonary hypertension.
- H.R. 2994, which would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a national pain care education outreach and awareness campaign.
- H.R. 6469, which would increase funding for the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
- H.R. 5352, the “Elder Abuse Victims Act,” which would establish specialized elder abuse prosecution and research programs and activities to aid victims of elder abuse, provide training to prosecutors and other law enforcement related to elder abuse prevention and protection.
- H.R. 6901, which would improve treatment for methamphetamine addiction.