Week ahead: House panel weighs FDA, NIH overhaul

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is getting closer to a final draft of its landmark legislation to promote medical innovation, the 21st Century Cures initiative.

The panel will meet Thursday to discuss the latest version of the legislation, marking its eighth official hearing on the topic in the last year. The bill is expected to include a major overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aimed at speeding up the process for approving new drugs and treatments and cutting red tape for companies.

{mosads}The long-awaited draft will be released before the hearing, Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told reporters Thursday. But Upton and ranking member Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) have not yet provided a precise timeline for the final bill.

Upton has said he hopes to send the bill to the president’s desk by June 2015 because he wants to “be ahead of the big slowdown” in 2016.

“Staff continues to work together around the clock as they have for the past several months and legislative text will be made available in the coming days,” the committee wrote in a release.

Separately this week, the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the future of medical innovation. The panel will include testimony from top officials with the NIH and the FDA.

As congressional working groups continue to craft contingency plans for the King v. Burwell before the Supreme Court, a Senate panel will meet Thursday to talk specifically about the case’s impacts on small businesses.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), chairman of the Senate’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, will lead a hearing to discuss what Congress can do to “protect” small businesses and their employees if the high court rules against ObamaCare this summer.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another staunch ObamaCare critic, will likely heat up the Republican Party’s debate over the high-stakes court case during his D.C. trip this week.

The Tea Party conservative has strongly argued that Republicans should use the chance to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, and has blasted any extension of healthcare subsidies, which several GOP leaders in Congress now support.

Jindal, a potential 2016 candidate for the White House, will speak Thursday at an event hosted by the Washington Examiner alongside one of the case’s architects, Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute.

With the “doc fix” bill in the rearview, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a rescheduled hearing on the lengthy backlog of Medicare appeals. The hearing will feature testimony from the Department of Health and Human Services’s chief administrative law judge, Nancy Griswold, who oversees Medicare appeals.


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