Unpacking the bus's health supplies

TECHNOLOGY
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With help from Daniel Lippman, Caitlin Emma, ​​Anthony Adragna, Ben Leonard, Alice Miranda Ollstein, David Lim, Lauren Gardner, Megan R. Wilson and Carmen Paun

PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’ll be on vacation next week, but we’ll be back in your inboxes on Tuesday, January 3rd.

ALL APPLIANCES – With the federal money set to expire on Friday night, Congress is now feverishly working to pass the holiday spending package that dropped on Tuesday morning. The big deal was crammed full of important health provisions that could land on Biden’s desk this week.

“The omnibus is aggressive, generous and far-reaching in healthcare, making it more accessible and broader,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. “The sooner we get past the bus, the better. And I hope no senator stops us from finishing our work before Friday. It is very important to the American people.”

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key health policy provisions that passed — and some notable ones that didn’t.

An order before Covid rules. The bill includes a bipartisan agreement to end a Covid-era Medicaid policy that gave states additional funding and prevented them from kicking people off federally funded insurance, setting a new end date for April 1, 2023.

Extension of telehealth. Hidden in the bill is an extension to HHS rules that made telehealth more accessible during the pandemic. But the provision, which extends the flexibility until the end of 2024, falls far short of the permanent flexibility that some lawmakers have advocated.

Big wins in the fight against opioids. A long list of measures aimed at addressing the current opioid crisis is in the bill, including $1,575,000,000 in state grants for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse. It also incorporates significant provisions of the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, including the elimination of a DEA requirement that physicians obtain extra certification to prescribe buprenorphine, and the NOPAIN Act, which improves access to FDA-approved non-opioid therapies for surgical procedures. outpatients.

Pandemic preparations. The bill requires the Strategic Preparedness and Response Administration to report to Congress on the feasibility of developing an AI-enabled pandemic preparedness and response program. ASPR would take the lead with help from the Departments of Defense and Energy as needed.

The bill also includes provisions of legislation championed by retired Senator Richard Burr (RN.C.) and Senate HELP Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to bolster America’s preparedness for future pandemics. In addition, the spending agreement aims to improve infectious disease forecasting and modeling, establish a White House Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response, and institute more frequent reviews of the Strategic National Stockpile.

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TODAY IN OUR PULSE CHECK PODCAST🇧🇷 Megan Messerly speaks with Alice Miranda Ollstein about the statewide abortion battles they’ve followed in 2022 after the Supreme Court overturned the milestone roe x wade decision — throwing the future of US abortion access into flux — and what they’re looking forward to next year.

Our review of bus health highlights continues:

FDA changes. As part of the legislation, lawmakers overhauled the way cosmetics are regulated for the first time since the 1930s, giving the FDA greater authority to ensure that myriad lotions and makeup products are safe to use. It also includes changes to the FDA’s accelerated approval path for drugs, giving the agency clear authority to require post-approval clinical trials to confirm a product’s benefit.

A new home for ARPA-H. The new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health will be part of the National Institutes of Health, resolving a dispute over whether the agency should be independent, but the question of where its headquarters will be was left open.

Investments in mental health. The package provides several key investments to expand access to mental health, including Maternal Mental Health Grants, Block Grants for Community Health Services, and Block Grants for Substance Use and Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.

A boost to global health spending. The agreement guarantees US$ 11.2 billion for global health. Funds will pass through the Department of State, Agency for International Development, HHS and CDC. The biggest boost, $445 million, will go to HIV/AIDS programs totaling $6.7 billion.

Notably missing from the package:

That pandemic aid … President Joe Biden wanted $9 billion to help fight the Covid pandemic and address emerging needs, but Republicans have always been unwilling to provide extra money.

An increase in funding for family planning. The bill keeps funding steady for the Title X family planning program for the ninth straight year, a blow to reproductive health groups who have argued the drop in roe x wade warranted a substantial increase.

The VALID Law. Legislation that would revise regulation of laboratory-developed diagnostics and tests fell through after Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), a member of the House Commerce and Energy Committee, led efforts to block the provision.

Help for pregnant workers. Legislation that would have expanded protections for pregnant workers, called the Pregnant Workers’ Equity Act, was left out of the bill after stalling in the Senate for months, despite support from groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the ACLU and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

THE PEAK OF THE WINTER VIRUS IN NYC – New York City is seeing a holiday spike in Covid-19 cases, along with the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, reports POLITICO’s Erin Durkin.

Mayor Eric Adams called the situation on Tuesday “extremely challenging.”

Covid cases jumped to 3,636 a day on average, an increase of about 50% since Thanksgiving. At the same time, the city recorded 16,890 flu cases in the most recent week of data, already above the peak of the past four winter flu seasons. RSV cases have started to decline since peaking in the fall, but are still at elevated levels.

FLORIDA GOING GREEN — The Florida Department of Health has taken a step to issue more licenses for companies to sell and grow medical marijuana with more emergency rules, reports POLITICO’s Arek Sarkissian.

On Tuesday, the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use published new emergency rules that outline the structure of the process for handling requests to issue more licenses. The state anticipates more than 40 licenses available by the end of June. The new rules guide the office to issue these licenses in batches, instead of making dozens available.

Subhan Cheema is the new director of communications for the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Cheema previously worked on the White House COVID-19 Response Team, where he was Deputy Director of Strategic Communications and External Engagement.

RWJBarnabas Health of New Jersey appointed Frank Pipas as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial and Balpreet Grewal-Virk as senior vice president of community health.

The American Medical Association added suzanne joy and Jeff Coughlin as deputy directors of federal affairs. Joy was a senior public policy and regulatory advisor at Holland & Knight. Coughlin was senior director of federal and state affairs at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

The Wall Street Journal investigates a decades-old federal program that gives hospitals drug rebates that aren’t passed on to patients.

The DEA seized enough fentanyl this year to kill everyone in the US, reports The Washington Post.

Stat reports how racism negatively affects sleep and its many benefits.

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of POLITICO Pulse got it wrong when the Covid-era Medicaid policy was supposed to end.

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