The House this week will begin voting on legislation to combat the opioid epidemic.
The majority of the bills coming up for a vote were recently passed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce or the House Committee on Ways and Means. Lawmakers will vote on the bills over the next two weeks, aiming to complete voting by the July Fourth recess.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Finance has scheduled a June 12 markup of an opioid bill, the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018. The legislation would increase access to telemedicine, require physicians to screen Medicare patients for painkiller misuse, and encourage states to expand access to residential treatment programs. Senate leadership has indicated work on opioid legislation likely will continue into August, as Senate Republican leadership recently announced a shortened recess to allow lawmakers to focus on appointing judicial nominees.
340B and Prescription Drug Costs
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) announced it will hold a June 19 hearing on the effective administration of the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Capt. Krista Pedley, PharmD, MS, director of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office of Pharmacy Affairs, will testify.
The HELP Committee also will hold a June 12 hearing on the administration’s recently released blueprint to lower prescription drug costs. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will testify.
Meanwhile, the House Committee on the Judiciary will hold a June 14 hearing on S. 2837, the Preventing Drug Diversion Act of 2018, and S. 974, the Creating and Restoring Equal Access To Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act. America’s Essential Hospitals sent a letter of support for the CREATES Act to the House Judiciary Committee.
Other Committee Activity
The Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a June 15 hearing on public health bio-preparedness, including responding to biological attacks, pandemics, and emerging infectious disease outbreaks.