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On The Hill: Senate Sets Key Health Panel Rosters

Last week, the Senate announced rosters for key panels with health care jurisdiction, including the committees on Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), as well as the Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Health Care.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will chair the HELP Committee and in news reports signaled his intention to move “very aggressively” on the high cost of prescription drugs. He shares committee leadership with the panel’s ranking Republican, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a gastroenterologist and first physician to sit as HELP ranking member or chair since 1933.

On the Finance Committee’s Health Care Subcommittee, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) will serve as chair alongside ranking member Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). Stabenow has announced she will retire when her fourth term ends in 2025, leaving the Senate without one of its most ardent mental health advocates. Stabenow has championed many issues aligned with essential hospitals’ priorities, having secured 10 years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), pushed Medicare and TRICARE to better cover Alzheimer’s care, and co-authored legislation to extend community health center funding.

In the House of Representatives

Also, the Pandemic is Over Act (H.R. 382) passed the House last week. It would terminate the public health emergency (PHE) effective immediately on the date of enactment. Its sponsor is House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.). This policy is separate from the approach outlined by the Biden administration, which last week announced it would end the PHE May 11. The unwinding of the PHE will bring about a raft of policy changes affecting patients, health care providers, and states.

On the Schedule this Week

As the 118th Congress continues its historically slow start, the biggest action on Capitol Hill this week is Biden’s State of the Union Address Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 9 pm ET. As for Congress, both the House and Senate will convene this week.

On Thursday, Feb. 9, at 9 am ET, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold a business meeting to consider 29 nominations and five bills, including one that would require the FTC to study the role of intermediaries in the pharmaceutical supply chain and provide Congress with appropriate policy recommendations.

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