Package Includes Committee Priorities to Lift the Oil Export Ban, Permanently Reauthorize 9/11 Heroes Health Program, and Boost Funding for Cures
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) hailed the inclusion of several important committee public health initiatives in the recently released year-end spending package. In addition to the public health measures, the package also includes committee priorities to boost NIH and FDA funding by $2 billion, lift the 40-year-old ban on oil exports, and permanently reauthorize the World Trade Center Health Fund for 9/11 first responders. The House is expected to consider the package on Friday, building upon the committee’s bipartisan #RecordOfSuccess.
“We have a lot to be proud of as we work to improve public health, take care of our 9/11 heroes, boost cures research, create jobs, and keep energy affordable,” said Chairman Upton. “Each effort on its own is an important accomplishment, and collectively, they represent our committee member’s legislative expertise, diligence, and tenacity to get the job done.”
Among the Public Health Initiatives Included in the Year-End Package:
Improving Patient Safety
Section 502 includes a policy that was originally part of H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, that will improve patient safety and encourage the adoption of innovative medical technologies. The provision will incentivize newer technology over older systems, to ensure that the best is utilized. Older technology can produce less detailed images, often times resulting in more scans which is costly and exposes patients to unnecessary scans. This provision is also included in H.R. 2550, the Medical Imaging Modernization Act of 2015, authored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).
Caring for our Seniors
Seniors who receive their care in a home setting are not able to access certain services because of the structure of the Durable Medical Equipment (DME) payment system. Section 504 includes a provision that would ensure seniors receiving care in a home setting are not denied access to certain disposable wound care treatments. This provision is similar to one contained in H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act. This provision is also included in H.R. 1018, the Patient Access to Disposable Medical Technology Act of 2015, authored by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC).
Helping Children with Rare Diseases
Section 765 extends the Rare Pediatric Disease Priority Review Voucher (PRV) Program from March 16, 2016, to September 30, 2016. H.R. 6 included a comprehensive reauthorization of the RPV program which would clarify the current law so FDA would interpret the definition to include the manifestation of disease, as originally intended by Congress. This provision extends current policy, and is similar to H.R. 1537, the Advancing Hope Act of 2015, authored by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX).
Delaying Onerous Menu Labeling Requirements
Section 747 grants restaurants and similar retail food establishments a delay of having to comply with menu labeling requirements until December 2, 2016, or until one year after FDA releases guidance. This provision is included in H.R. 2017, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, authored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).
Addressing Mental Illness
Title II includes funding for the Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) grant program which treats individuals with serious mental illnesses. AOT programs currently exist in 45 states as an alternative to long-term inpatient care. Court-ordered AOT allows a court to direct treatment in the community for patients with the greatest need for help. This provision is similar to what is included in H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015, authored by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA).