Week ahead: Budget bills head to House and Senate floors

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The measures from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are expected to pass, giving the two sides firm positions on Medicare and Social Security ahead of what will likely be another fiscal showdown this summer.

It’s also a big week for healthcare at the Supreme Court, where the justices will hear oral arguments Tuesday in two cases that affect the pharmaceutical industry.

The bigger of the two cases deals with patients’ ability to sue when they suffer injuries from generic drugs. The Justice Department says the type of lawsuit at issue in this case should be blocked, arguing that decisions about drugs’ safety belong to the Food and Drug Administration.

But some Democrats disagree, citing a Supreme Court case from 2009 that affirmed the right to sue brand-name drug companies.

The court will also hear arguments Tuesday over the extremely complex system for compensating people who are harmed by vaccines.

Back on Capitol Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has a busy week planned.  

On Monday, the panel’s Health subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine the state of U.S. entitlements.

On Tuesday, the Communications and Technology subpanel will look at wireless innovations as they relate to healthcare. On Wednesday, the Health subcommittee will ask how new technologies are benefitting patients. And on Thursday, the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee will look at the effect of regulations on developing technologies. 

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee also has a full plate, with a hearing on retirement savings Tuesday and an executive session on the Animal Drug User Fee Reauthorization Act of 2013 on Wednesday. That meeting will also cover the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act. 

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and its efforts to reform the U.S. healthcare system. Discussion is likely to touch on demonstration projects and accountable care organizations that are under way. The center’s director, Richard Gilfillan, will testify. 

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will also hold a hearing on veterns’ mental health and their access to good care on Wednesday. 

Off Capitol Hill, the National Association of Community Health Centers will hold a four-day policy conference at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel starting Wednesday. 

On Thursday, the Alliance for Health Reform will hold a briefing on the future of the healthcare workforce. The event will take place at Union Station.

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