The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) last week held its second hearing in a three-part series on the 340B Drug Pricing Program.

The hearing was favorable for hospitals, with committee Democrats sharply questioning the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) repeated delays of the final rule on 340B drug ceiling prices and manufacturer civil monetary penalties. HRSA most recently has proposed delaying the rule for an additional year, to July 1, 2019.

America’s Essential Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, testified in March in the first hearing of the series. The third hearing is expected later this summer and will include a witness from  HRSA, which administers the 340B program.

House Opioid Package

Meanwhile, even as dozens of opioid-related bills have advanced through House committees, it is increasingly likely that a House floor vote on an opioid package will not take place before Memorial Day.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce last week held its second and final full-committee markup on an opioid-related legislative package. The committee advanced 30 bills, bringing the total number of opioid-related bills that will be considered on the House floor to 57. The newest round of bills aim to bolster prevention and public health efforts and improve coverage and payment issues within Medicaid and Medicare.

The House Committee on Ways and Means also held a full-committee markup of its opioid legislation last week. It advanced seven bills to change Medicare coverage as a response to the opioid epidemic and improve how the U.S. Postal Service monitors incoming packages for opioids.

The Senate Committee on Aging will hold a May 22 hearing on preventing and treating opioid misuse among older Americans.

Multiple committees in the House and Senate are expected to hold additional hearings and review legislation related to the opioid crisis in the coming weeks.

Committee Activity

The HELP committee will hold a May 22 hearing on health care workforce shortages and improving care. The committee also will hold an executive session on May 23 on S. 2852, a bill to reauthorize certain programs under the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a May 23 hearing on the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education Support Reauthorization Act.