Washington, D.C. — Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY) delivered the following remarks at the beginning of today’s subcommittee markup on 19 bills.
Excerpts and highlights from his prepared remarks:
19 BILLS BEFORE THE COMMITTEE
“Before us today — we have 19 bills that address many important areas, including improving vaccination rates, addressing the opioid epidemic, and reducing maternal mortality.
“I am disappointed that the bipartisan bill, H.R. 3969, that Rep. Curtis and Rep. Cardenas have worked on to address Medical Loss Ratio is not included in this markup.
“I am also disappointed that Rep. Bilirakis’s bill, H.R. 4074, that would expand the availability of supplemental benefits to certain Medicare Advantage enrollees is not a part of our markup.”
MANUFACTURING TECH FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
“I am pleased that my bill with Chairman Pallone, H.R. 4369, the ‘National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act,’ is included.
“Continuous manufacturing technology allows for prescription drugs to be produced nonstop, as opposed to traditional batch manufacturing which requires hold times between each manufacturing step, slowing down the process. Greater adoption of this technology will result in drugs entering the market faster.
“This pioneer technology will help prevent drug shortages and allow us to scale up production of drugs more easily, which can help us be better prepared for future public health emergencies.
“This bill will create partnerships between the FDA and universities to research and develop innovative, advanced manufacturing technologies. This bill is important as we work to ensure our drug supply chain does not depend too heavily on other countries, such as China.”
FIGHTING SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS
“I’m also pleased this markup includes bills to address substance use disorders.
“This week — CDC released preliminary data on overdose deaths, and the results are heartbreaking.
“Last year, during the height of the COVID-19 public health emergency, we lost an estimated 93,331 people in the U.S. to overdoses. This is unfortunately a new record and the highest annual jump in at least three decades.
“One of the driving factors for this surge in overdose deaths is fentanyl. According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, in 2020, more than 57,000 overdose deaths were from synthetic opioids, largely due to fentanyl.
“I urge my colleagues to work together to permanently add fentanyl analogues to the DEA’s schedule I of scheduled drugs. The current temporary scheduling expires on October 22, 2021.
“Before us today we have, H.R. 2364, the Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act which would direct the CDC and other federal agencies to conduct a public awareness campaign on the dangers of synthetic opioids.
“In my home state of Kentucky, exposure of fentanyl recently killed a two-year-old.
“Fentanyl analogues are very dangerous due to their potency and often come across our borders illegally only to harm Americans.
“Today, we will examine H.R. 654, which would give the Drug-Free Communities Program the flexibility it needs to continue serving local communities and youth in drug prevention efforts.
“H.R. 2051, the Methamphetamine Response Act would officially declare methamphetamine as an emerging drug threat, which would require the Office of National Drug Control Policy to develop, implement, and make public a national plan to prevent methamphetamine addiction and overdoses from becoming a nationwide crisis.
“H.R.2355, the Opioid Prescription Verification Act would help stop ‘pharmacy shopping’ of opioid and other controlled substance prescriptions, which are then sold illegally. This bill is vital to help crack down on illegal prescriptions of controlled substances.
“While I’m pleased the committee is marking up substance use disorder bills today, I also hope the committee can commit more resources and focus on this important issue to ensure next year we don’t break another terrible record on overdose deaths.”
MATERNAL HEALTH & COVID-19 VACCINES
“As someone who represents many rural communities, I’m proud to cosponsor the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act to increase access to health services for women in rural areas, expand telehealth grants to include maternal health providers, and improve the quality of care and training for maternal health providers.
“This bill would unite health care providers to develop and implement programs to address underlying causes of maternal mortality and morbidity.
“Today we are also examining several bills pertaining to vaccines. I support efforts to give every American the opportunity to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and other preventable diseases when a vaccination is recommended.
“I am specifically interested in the Vaccine INFO Act, which will help provide resources on the importance of vaccines to nursing home staff and residents.
“Lastly, I am encouraged to see a bipartisan agreement on Medicaid funding for the territories and look forward to discussing this bill today.
“I want to thank Chair Eshoo, members of the subcommittee, and committee staff for their hard work on these 19 bills.
“However, I do want to stress that we must work together to pay for these bills that are not offset.”