HHS Standing Committee Newsletter | Oct. 7 Edition

10/7/2020

HHS Newsletter

From Congress

Senate Help Committee Holds Vaccine Hearing | Sept. 9, 2020

The committee heard from National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins and Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams. Both spoke about the science and data that will be needed for vaccine decisions and approvals. 

Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week | Sept. 17, 2020

The week was designated by President Donald Trump in an effort to continue to raise awareness about the ongoing issues with the opioid and addiction crisis in America. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has worked to develop recommendations to help with coronavirus (COVID-19) response efforts in conjunction with the opioid epidemic.

Energy and Commerce Pass Bipartisan Health Bills | Sept. 21, 2020

The 10 bills addressed many health issues, including suicide prevention, maternal health, assisting emergency responders, and how to strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile among others.

House Oversight Holds Hearings on Prescription Drugs | Sept. 30, 2020

The committee held hearings over two days with pharmaceutical executives to hear about the costs of prescription drugs in the United States. Chief executive officers (CEO) from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Teva Pharmaceuticals, Amgen, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and Novartis’ CEO, and Celgene’s former CEO testified before the committee regarding current and increasing prices on prescription drugs.

House Oversight and Investigations Committee Hearing on Vaccines | Sept. 30, 2020

The committee held a remote hearing to discuss vaccine development, including safety and effectiveness. Committee members heard from public health experts from several universities and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

From the Administration

Preparedness Resource Published | Sept. 9, 2020

The assistant secretary for the Office of Preparedness and Response published resources with the Administration of Community Living and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It is designed to help support nurses, social workers, case managers and others who are overseeing discharge planning for adults with disabilities after COVID-19 treatment.

National Decline in Youth E-Cigarette Use | Sept. 13, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data from the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which found that 1.8 million fewer youth in the U.S. are currently using e-cigarettes compared to 2019. The FDA still remains concerned that an estimated 3.6 million U.S. youth currently use e-cigarettes and acknowledges the ongoing work that needs to be done to curb youth use.

Executive Order on Drug Pricing Released | Sept. 13, 2020

The order directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to start the process of limiting what Medicare will pay for prescription drugs or biological products. It calls for Medicare to receive the “most-favored-nation” price for certain prescription drugs. The price would be defined as “the lowest price, after adjusting for volume and differences in national gross domestic product, for a prescription drug a manufacturer sells in a member country of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.” Read more.

Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Awards Given to States and District of Columbia | Sept. 17, 2020

Nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia were awarded financial incentives for their increases in the number of children adopted from foster care. In total, states were awarded a combined total of $70.4 million that was based on their successful adoption and guardianship efforts.

Executive Order on Health Reforms Released | Sept. 24, 2020

The order addresses the health issues of consumer choice, affordability, quality of care for vulnerable populations, prescription drug costs, telemedicine and other health care overhauls. The issue has been raised that without regulations many of the proposals cannot move forward.

CMS Withdraws Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule | September 2020

After months of feedback from stakeholder groups, including state and local organizations and health care providers, the proposed rule has been withdrawn, for now. The rule would have reined in supplemental Medicaid payments for low-income health programs, which allowed states to respond to changing needs. The rule also required greater transparency and accountability, as states are responsible for reporting these payments to the CMS. Stakeholders raised concerns that the rule could have reduced states’ ability to receive federal matching funds included in congressional COVID-19 relief packages. Read more.

Funding Announced for Vaccine Preparedness and the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program | September 2020

The HHS announced that the CDC will provide $200 million to 64 jurisdictions for COVID-19 vaccine preparedness through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, and through existing cooperative agreements for immunizations and vaccines for children. These and other funds will help states prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine. Awards will be determined by a population-based formula. Read more.

HHS Announces $20 Billion Available in Phase 3 of COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund | Oct. 1, 2020

In the third round of funding from the Provider Relief Fund, providers who have already received funds are eligible to apply for funding that will take into consideration additional financial losses and changes in operating expenses due to COVID-19. Providers who were not eligible in previous funding, including behavioral health providers, are also eligible to apply. Applications open on Oct. 5, 2020.

Administration of Children and Families Developed Public Engagement Section of ALL-IN Foster Adoption Challenge | September 2020

The ALL-IN Foster Adoption Challenge, championed by the Administration of Children and Families’ Assistant Secretary Lynn Johnson, recently released a new public engagement section of its webpage to encourage members of the public to share their support of the challenges work of getting children adopted in their forever homes.

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