WASHINGTON, DC– Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) remarks at a Health Subcommittee markup examining 13 health bills, including bipartisan proposals to promote health and increase the safety of medical products.
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Chairwoman Eshoo. At today’s subcommittee markup we will advance 13 legislative proposals to improve health outcomes and improve the safety of and access to medical products.
Three of the bills before us today are bipartisan initiatives that advance public health and wellness in children. H.R. 2271, the Scarlett’s Sunshine on Sudden Unexpected Death Act, improves our efforts to further understand both sudden unexplained infant death (SUID) and sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC). H.R. 4801, the Healthy Start Reauthorization Act, reauthorizes grants for services that help reduce infant mortality and improve pregnancy outcomes. And finally, H.R. 2468, the School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act, permits the Department of Health and Human Services to give preference in asthma grants to states with comprehensive school-based allergy and asthma management programs. I’m pleased that the committee has worked together in a bipartisan fashion to advance these bills that will help improve health outcomes in children.
We will markup several bipartisan priorities that aim to improve the safety of America’s medical product supply chain and improve patient access to treatments. H.R. 5663, the Safeguarding Therapeutics Act will protect Americans from dangerous counterfeit medical devices by extending FDA’s administrative destruction authority to these products. H.R. 4866, the National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act will provide the Agency with tools to promote the development and implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies, which have the potential to increase our manufacturing resiliency and reduce quality issues that often trigger drug shortages.
We will also markup three bipartisan bills that increase patient access to essential services. H.R. 1379, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act, provides children with congenital anomalies access to medically necessary treatment. This is an important cause, and nobody should be denied medically necessary coverage for a congenital anomaly. I know my friends on the other side of the aisle have agreed to work with us in a bipartisan way to make sure the bill is drafted in a way that doesn’t swing the door wide open to coverage of all sorts of cosmetic services, and that’s important. I appreciate their commitment to working towards this shared goal before we get to a full committee markup. But for the patients supporting this bill – we want to help, and we want to get this right so you can access the care you need.
H.R. 2477, the BENES Act, provides greater outreach to beneficiaries eligible for Medicare Part B and works to limit enrollment penalties they face if they do not sign up on time. We want to make sure the full range of options, including Medicare Advantage plans and other private sector options, are available to seniors to avoid late enrollment penalties, and we’ll keep working with my friends across the aisle on that as the bill progresses.
We will also consider a bill introduced by Mr. Carter, H.R. 3935, the Protecting Patients Transportation to Care Act, a bill that would codify, in Title XIX of the Social Security Act, the longstanding mandatory Medicaid transportation benefit. We will introduce a bipartisan amendment at the full committee markup that will add critical program integrity measures as well as Technical Assistance. I want to thank Mr. Carter for his work and leadership on this issue.
We will also consider H.R. 5534, a bill introduced by the Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee, Dr. Burgess. This bill will fix disparities in Medicare coverage for individuals who have received kidney transplants and currently only receive three years of coverage for immunosuppressive drugs. Extending coverage to these drugs is cost effective and will result in better outcomes for those with kidney transplants. More opportunities to move people off dialysis through transplants will immeasurably improve the overall health and quality of life of those suffering from End-Stage Renal Disease.
Additionally, we will move forward with two bills that help address barriers to treatments. H.R. 5668, the MODERN Labeling Act, will allow for the updating of outdated drug labels so providers have the most up-to-date information when discussing treatment options with their patients. H.R. 4712 will close a loophole in the Orphan Drug Act that may enable drug companies to block competition by claiming their drug may not be profitable, despite a demonstrated ability to rake in billions.
We will also markup H.R. 5279, the Cosmetic Safety Enhancement Act. I appreciate the ongoing discussions the Majority has engaged in with respect to cosmetics regulation. I hope conversations continue to progress and that we can find solutions to address issues that are still unresolved. Among these are ensuring the legislation includes strong federal preemption language and an appropriate exemption for small businesses. These are issues I believe to be critical to achieving bipartisan agreement.
I look forward to advancing these measures today and continuing our bipartisan conversations to address outstanding concerns before reporting these bills out of committee.