House passes slew of health-related bills

The House passed six health-related bills Wednesday evening, including efforts to combat Medicare fraud and dispose of unused prescription drugs.

The following bills passed under suspension of the rules, an expedited procedure that only allows for 40 minutes of debate followed by a voice vote:

_ The Strengthening Medicare Anti-Fraud Measures Act of 2010: This bill sponsored by Reps. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Wally Herger (R-Calif.) allows regulators to ban corporate executives from doing business with Medicare if their companies were convicted of fraud, even if the conviction takes place after their departure; 

_ The Combat Methamphetamine Enhancement Act of 2009: This bill sponsored by Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) prohibits distributors of listed chemicals from selling them to individuals not registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration;

_ A bill championed by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) that strikes references to "mental retardatio" in federal law. The bill passed the Senate in August.

- The Safe Drug Disposal Act of 2010: This bill sponsored by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) that makes it easier for patients to safely dispose of their unused prescription drugs; and

- A resolution supporting the designation of September 2010 as Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

The House also passed a bill authorizing $50 million in funding over five years for pilot programs in metro areas with high rates of infant mortality. The bill, introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), was delayed after a roll-call vote was called but eventually passed 324-64.

Four other bills were postponed after roll call votes were requested:

_ A bill providing $25 million in grants over five years to state emergency medical service departments to provide for the expedited training and licensing of veterans with prior medical training. The bill was introduced by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.);

_ A bill providing for grants and technical assistance to improve services rendered to children and adults with autism. The bill, introduced by Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Pa.), would cost about $55 million over five years;

_ A bill by Rep. Tim Murphy (D-Pa.) extending federal liability protections to volunteers at Community Health Centers; and

_ The National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Reauthorization Act of 2010: The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), fosters the establishment of state-administered controlled substance monitoring systems.