Groups and lawmakers championing the Democratic domestic agenda, from clean energy to health care, are relaunching campaigns targeted at their target audience: Joe Manchin.
Labor groups recently held a teleconference for West Virginians to discuss the need to expand home care offerings. The International Union of Service Workers recorded a robotic call with actress Jennifer Garner, a native of the state, in which she urged West Virginians to call their senators and ask for home care measures. And last week, childcare advocates rallied outside the Capitol in support of the Senator’s proposal. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Sept. Tim Kane (D-Va.), which will increase state funds for childcare and early childhood education.
Many of the Democrats’ priorities are unlikely to receive sufficient bipartisan support. To get the measures approved by a simple majority, they need to convince the West Virginia senator to join them, drawing attention to his concerns about rising inflation and the problems facing his home state.
Efforts come from Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) resumed negotiations on the Conciliation Bill. They met again on Wednesday to discuss a potential deal, according to an aide who wished to remain anonymous to speak frankly. Learn more from Zach S. Cohen and Alex Ruoff.
Also on Legislators’ Radars
- Senate Indian Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on the cannabis industry in Native American tribes and communities on Friday, “as discussions about national cannabis reform legislation begin to take shape.” according to the statement.
- Calendar: See all week of events.
Romney criticizes Biden team for negotiating Covid relief: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said the Biden administration gave him “deliberately false” information about its ability to procure more Covid vaccines with existing funding earlier this year and said his relationship with the White House was “faltering.” Romney was the chief negotiator on a $10 billion Covid relief package that remains deadlocked after Republicans attempted to tie immigration policy to legislation, reports Alex Ruoff.
He told Biden administration officials at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Thursday that he would not have supported the package if the White House had been clearer about the funds available. This month, the administration moved roughly $10 billion earmarked for coronavirus supplies and other programs to procure next-generation vaccines and antivirals.
Floor of the house next week: The House of Representatives plans to vote on bills to repeal the special exemption for physicians from the need to prescribe drugs for the treatment of substance use disorders (HR 7666); direct the federal government to voluntarily collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity to measure discrimination (CR 4176); create a new agency dedicated to developing medical breakthroughs for diseases such as cancer (5585 h.), improve mental health care for veterans (CR 6411); and provide treatment for veterinarians exposed to toxic burn pits (HR 3967) — which the Senate passed yesterday — according to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Med.).
Industry and regulation
The FTC charges pharmacy agents: The high drug discounts that pharmacy benefit managers demand from drug makers could violate federal competition laws if they restrict patient access, the FTC said in a policy statement unanimous Thursday. The Federal Trade Commission has voted to release a plan for how it will use existing competition and consumer protection laws to review rebates and fees paid by drug manufacturers to pharmacy benefit managers who manage prescription drug benefits. Learn more from Celine Castronuovo.
Improvements to the unexpected billing dispute resolution policy: A provision that could affect how arbitrators resolve claims disputes in cases of surprise billing is under review by the Office of Management and Budget. In February, a federal court overturned a provision in a temporary rule requiring arbitrators to give preference to the amount closest to the average in-network rate when settling payment disputes between insurers and out-of-network health care providers. Read more from Sarah Hansard.
Medicare Age 60 will cut costs for the uninsured but increase costs: Lowering the Medicare age from 65 to 60 would reduce the number of uninsured by 400,000 people in 2023 and force 2.5 million people to forego employer-sponsored health insurance to join the program, according to a study released Thursday by the Urban Institute. . The analysis shows that new entrants will increase Medicare spending by almost $65 billion, and the U.S. deficit will grow by $504 billion over the decade. Read more from Tony Pugh.
WTO approves waiver of vaccine patents to help fight pandemic: On Friday, the World Trade Organization approved a politically significant deal to ease intellectual property restrictions on the production of Covid-19 vaccines after nearly two years of efforts involving many high-level meetings and much political arm-twisting. Bryce Baschuk reports.
What else you need to know today
Fight against low-income drug discount looms as HHS loses in Supreme Court: The U.S. Supreme Court’s loss to HHS in a Medicare case gives the agency a weapon in the wider battle for drug manufacturers’ rebates for low-income Americans. All nine Justices of the Supreme Court agreed that HHS mistakenly cut $1 billion a year in hospital drug reimbursements through a program designed to help populations in need. HHS and hospitals are now on the same side in another courtroom conflict over the program—whether HHS can require drug makers to offer discounts at certain pharmacies. Learn more from Jan Lopez and Ellie Reid.
Monkeypox shows the US learned little from Covid, advocates say: Infectious disease experts and advocates say US testing for monkeypox is not enough to determine how widespread the virus is and where new cases are emerging. While government labs can test up to 8,000 samples per week, they only use 2% of that capacity. Madison Mueller has more.
Biogen is looking for a review of the SCOTUS description standard: Biogen International is seeking opinions from Supreme Court judges on what support an inventor must provide to adequately describe an invention in a patent, a matter that has been divided by the Federal District. Samantha Handler has more.
Employees delay medical care due to financial pressure: Forty percent of employees surveyed by consulting firm Willis Towers Watson have deferred medical care over the past year. Twenty-five percent of these employees said they could not afford it, with the majority of this subgroup saying their health was suffering. Read more from Sarah Hansard.
Editor’s note: The BGOV Health Briefing will not be published on Monday, June 20, a federal holiday observed on June 10. Publication will resume on Tuesday, June 21st.