The independent brawler has long championed a far-reaching proposal to transform the country’s health care into a single payer system, and has successfully broached the issue. One of the best fights Among the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. But since the Vermont senator is about to head the Senate Senate Assistance Committee In this Congress, he’s acutely aware that the policy isn’t anywhere near enough support to pass this year, though he’ll still introduce and debate the measure publicly.
From the top of his new health center, Sanders instead plans to push for action “very aggressively” on the rising cost of prescription drugs, saying there is an “incredible level of greed” within the drug industry. In an interview, he ticked off a broad list of areas he sees as ripe for bipartisan cooperation: lowering prescription drug prices, expanding primary care, strengthening the health workforce, and strengthening rural health care.
Sanders’ comments underscore the tightrope that a self-described democratic socialist must walk to pass legislation with a slim Democratic majority and find overlap with the committee’s Republican nominee, Sen. Bill Cassidy (Los Angeles), the gastroenterologist and health policy specialist that Sanders did not. I’ve worked with many before. Some people on and off Capitol Hill secretly wondered Whether Sanders will be able to build consensus among Republicans and within the Democratic caucus remains to be seen.
The 81-year-old plans to prove the skeptics wrong by sitting down and talking to every lawmaker on his committee about their priorities, and he said he’s already begun discussions with Cassidy.
- “Look, there are areas where there won’t be bipartisan support,” Sanders said. “There will be areas, and I will do my best to pursue these areas.”
The Senate Health Committee has broad jurisdiction over the nation’s public health agencies, the Food and Drug Administration and other aspects of federal health policy. (Medicare for All and enabling the federal insurance program to negotiate the price of drugs are technically within the purview Senate Finance Committee(But that doesn’t mean Sanders couldn’t use his high-profile platform to promote both policies.)
Although a Medicare-for-all hearing isn’t at the top of his list right now, Sanders didn’t offer a glimpse into his upcoming hearing schedule, other than to say he plans to “take the show on the road” by holding events outside of Washington, D.C. Nor did he hint at any health executives he intended to move to Capitol Hill.
It’s “a little bit premature,” Sanders said, though he cited a letter he sent her yesterday accident Asking the company to abstain More than four times its price Corona Virus Vaccine as an example of the issues he plans to pursue. accident, For its part, the company said it is “committed to pricing that reflects the value that covid-19 vaccines bring to patients, health care systems, and society.”
In a shot of warning, Sanders indicated that the committee has subpoena power. “We will use it wisely, but we are prepared to use it when necessary,” he said.
Sanders is known for his diatribes against the drug industry. Not surprisingly, cutting drug costs is high on his agenda, though it’s unclear what can be done in a divided Congress, especially after Democrats passed their drug pricing bill last year without GOP support.
The incoming president did not detail specific policies, but said importing drugs is an option. Last year, Sanders tried to push Comprehensive modification Allowing imports of medicines from other countries through the aid committee to no avail, though he would have the power to make it more of a priority as committee chairman.
The drug industry’s powerful lobby rejected this idea. with the current situation, Brian Newell, Spokesman pharmaceutical research and manufacturers america, “The last thing we should do is pursue a risky import plan that would endanger the health and safety of the American people,” he said.
“If you’re really an industry you’re in [Sanders’s] “You should be concerned,” said one Democratic pharmaceutical lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity to be forthright. “He’ll go out and get all the pressure he’s got, and he’ll find a way to actually pass something on.”
But one thing Sanders won’t do? Pay attention to pressure groups.
- He said, “My job is to listen to the needs of the American people, not the industry.” “I am interested in learning as much as I can, but we are not going to sit around and be pressured by powerful corporate interests.”
On tap today: House lawmakers to consider two abortion-related bills
Members of the House of Representatives are expected to introduce a resolution today condemns the attacks on facilities, churches, and anti-abortion groups, in addition to a measure that would Forcing doctors to provide care For infants who survive an attempted abortion – which is extremely rare.
Before the House vote, Rep. Nancy Mays (RS) warned that the Republican Party It should be more intermediate On the subject of abortion, noting that the fall Roe v. Wade Last year played a big role in mid term elections.
“We learned nothing from the midterms if this is how we’re going to operate in the first week,” said Mays. Politico said Olivia BeversAdding that the bills stand no chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate. “What we’re doing this week is lip serviceShe said.
Representative Catherine Clark (Democrat):
leaders coming from Senate Appropriations Committee – Sens. Patty Murray (D-wash) f Susan Collins (R-min) – issued a joint statement He pledged yesterday to work to “finance the government in a responsible and partisan manner.”
Murray previously served as the top Democrat in the Senate Assistance Committeeemerging as a bipartisan dealmaker in an era of increasingly polarized Congress.
why does it matter: As chair and ranking member of the committee, it will be up to Murray and Collins to oversee legislation that allocates federal funding across the entire government annually, including to critical health agencies such as Department of Health and Human Services and FDA.
Majority Leader in the House Steve Scales (Republic no.) and an actor. Christopher H. smith (RN.J.), co-chair of the Pro-life Congressional CaucusNext week, he will speak at March 50th for Life, an annual January event protesting against abortion on the anniversary Roe v. Wade the Al Masirah Fund for Life Education and Defense Announced yesterday.
FDA advisors are meeting in Narcan next month
the Food and Drug AdministrationAdvisory Committee is the meeting February 15th to consider whether Emerging Bio SolutionsA drug to reverse an opioid overdose must be approved for use without a prescription.
Last month, the agency approved Emergent’s request to sell an over-the-counter naloxone nasal spray, called Narcan, Review case priority. The health regulator is expected to issue a decision by March 29, Reuters mentioned.
Main context: Every state and DC It has already enacted a form of legislation to increase access to naloxone, such as allowing licensed pharmacists and practitioners to dispense the drug to anyone at risk of an opioid overdose or who has a standing statewide order authorizing naloxone use.
However, public health experts say eliminating the prescription requirement could expand access to the drug as the Biden administration seeks to stem a wave of overdose deaths nationwide.
In other news from across the agencies…
New this morning: almost 16 million The Federal Department of Health announced this morning that people have registered for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act markets since the beginning of the 2023 open enrollment period on November 1.
Health insurance exchanges gained approx 3.1 million New entrants are up to date, and the annual subscription season runs through January 15th.
HHS is mandated to reimburse 340B hospitals
It will be up to Department of Health and Human Services to Make a plan on how hospitals enrolled in the federal drug discount program compensate for years of underpayments, stat reports.
What happened: A federal court yesterday returned the payment issue to HHS in the latest chapter in a years-long legal dispute between hospitals serving low-income patients in exchange for discounted drugs through the 340B program and the federal government over Medicare payment rates.
The fight has reached the Supreme Court Unanimous ruling In June, the Trump administration acted illegally when it slashed Medicare payment rates for drugs acquired by hospitals through the 340B rebate program.
More than six months after the ruling, hospitals are still awaiting more than $1 billion in repayment. The district court’s decision dealt a disappointing blow to the industry groups, who he hoped That the judges order HHS to reimburse the hospitals immediately.
The agency’s compensation plan remains unclear. The situation is particularly complicated because hospitals that aren’t part of the rebate program received extra payments for drugs while Medicare cuts were in place, so the money isn’t readily available, Stat’s says. Rachel Kors Notes.
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