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On the Hill: Pandemic Preparedness Bill, OMB Nomination

Bipartisan leaders of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) released draft legislation to improve the nation’s public health and medical capacity to respond to future pandemics and public health crises.

The proposal, among other initiatives, seeks to:

  • improve coordination within the federal government for preparedness and readiness activities;
  • invest in the public health workforce;
  • bolster the supply chain;
  • enhance data collection; and
  • improve drug and medical countermeasure research and development.

Of note for essential hospitals, the proposal would reauthorize several trauma care grants and provide additional support for programs to mitigate social determinants of health and reduce health disparities.

The committee seeks feedback on the draft language; responses are due Feb. 4.

Talks Continue on Federal Budget

Congressional appropriators continue to negotiate topline numbers to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2022 in advance of the Feb. 18 deadline. America’s Essential Hospitals continues to advocate for a COVID-19 supplemental appropriations package that would help essential hospitals as they respond to the pandemic.

Supreme Court Justice Breyer Announces Retirement

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer last week announced his intent to retire from the high court upon completion of the term. While the White House and Senate are in the earliest stages of the nomination and confirmation process, confirming a new justice will take significant time in the upper chamber and add to an already busy legislative calendar for Democrats.

Senate Committee to Consider OMB Nomination

The Senate Committee on Budget scheduled a Feb. 1 hearing to consider the nomination of Shalanda Young as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Young currently is acting director and deputy director of OMB. Prior to joining OMB, she spent more than a decade in the top Democratic role for the House Committee on Appropriations.

Other Hearings of Note

A Feb. 1 Senate HELP Committee hearing focuses on mental health and substance use disorder. The hearing includes testimony by Michelle Durham, MD, MPH, from association member Boston Medical Center.

The House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a Feb. 2 hearing on America’s mental health crisis. The Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth also has planned a hearing examining the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund and Medicare financing.

Meanwhile, the House Committee on Ways and Means Health Subcommittee will hold a Feb. 3 hearing on bridging the health equity gap for people with disabilities and chronic conditions.

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About the Author

Christina Fagnano is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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