Tuesday, March 16 marked the 100th day of the 116th Congress, a period of considerable activity. Both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Ways and Means Committee have marked up bills involving the Affordable Care Act and drug pricing. On the Senate side of Capitol Hill, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has sought information from a wide range of sources regarding how to reduce health care costs for taxpayers, employers, and families after concluding a series of five Senate health committee hearings exploring the same topic.
Congress already has enjoyed a measure of success by having some health care bills signed by President Trump, including: the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 (H.R. 1839) and the Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019 (H.R. 259). Progress is being made to enable other pieces of health legislation to advance, such as the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 (H.R. 269) and the Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 501). Other items requiring attention this session involve legislation to renew expiring programs that involve Community Health Centers and Teaching Health Centers.
A hearty perennial that keeps Congress active is completing work on 12 appropriations bills. House Democrats were forced to cancel a vote on top-line budget numbers because of intra-party disagreement. Some party members supporting H.R. 2021 want to increase defense spending in 2020 by $17 billion for a total of $664 billion and non-defense spending by $34 billion for a total of $631 billion. Other Democrats insist that non-defense spending be raised to the same level as defense spending.
In the health arena, there is little support for the Trump Administration’s FY 2020 budget request involving medical research. Many Republican legislators are inclined to reduce government spending whenever possible, but Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) of the Senate Subcommittee for Labor-HHS Appropriations indicated that re-prioritizing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) after a decade of stagnation has been his number one priority. The Administration’s budget request to reduce NIH support by $4.9 billion (a 13% cut) is not a choice he intends to make when the Labor-HHS spending bill is written.
The release of the Mueller Report on April 18 regarding whether President Trump was involved in collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice involving the U.S. presidential election in 2016 has not resulted in producing total calm in political waters that have been roiled for the past two years. A traditional role of Congress is to conduct hearings to examine the performance of federal agencies and to investigate suspected wrongdoings. As of April 2019, it is clear that Democrats in the House of Representatives will use that power to hold hearings on important matters they believe remain insufficiently addressed by the Mueller Report.
Meanwhile, the 2020 election cycle appears to be in full swing even though votes will not be cast for another 19 months. The Democrats lack no shortage of candidates who deem themselves worthy of residing in the big house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. come January 2021.
More Articles from TRENDS April 2019
VARIETIES OF PLAGUES BOTH OLD AND NEW
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HEALTH REFORM DEVELOPMENTS
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DEVELOPMENTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
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QUICK STAT (SHORT, TIMELY, AND TOPICAL)
Disparities In Prevalence Of Major Cancer Risk Factors And Screening Test Use In The U.S.
Foreign-Body Ingestions Of Young Children Treated In U.S. Emergency Departments: 1995-2015
Morning Exercise Is Better Than Evening Exercise Except When It Is Not
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AVAILABLE RESOURCES ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONICALLY
Hospitals’ Use Of Electronic Health Records Data, 2015-2017
Strengthening The Connection Between Health Professions Education And Practice Read More
PER SCIENTIAM AD SAPIENTIAM: SOME KEY STEPS IN THE JOURNEY
Furnishes examples from the professional literature that serve as stepping stones on the road from knowledge to wisdom. Read More
PLACING A MAN ON THE MOON AND SOME RELATED MUSINGS
Refers to health hazards associated with lengthy periods of time in outer space and implications for improving health status on earth’s inhabitants. Read More