Week ahead: Senate has next move on cures bill

Attention is turning to the Senate after the resounding passage of the 21st Century Cures Act in the House on Friday.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will grab the spotlight on Tuesday by holding a hearing about “unlocking cures” for deadly diseases.

The panel will include former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who left office last year after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, as well as a health expert from the Manhattan Institute, a research professor and the leader of a nonprofit tech group.

{mosads}Advancing biomedical research has been popular in both parties, though neither side can agree about the bill’s price tag. Disagreements among top Republicans and Democrats on funding held back the House bill for months.

The multibillion-dollar legislation would be paid for through mandatory funding, instead of discretionary — a process that was opposed by nearly 150 House Republicans on Friday.

Leaders of the House bill said they don’t expect the legislation to reach a vote in the Senate until this fall at the earliest, and acknowledged that the upper chamber will need several months to catch up with their 18 months of planning. The Senate has held a handful of hearings on advancing medical cures but is not yet close to legislative language. 

In the House next week, lawmakers will be bringing in federal watchdogs to talk about Medicare spending, particularly its Part D prescription drug program.

The oversight panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday that will include an official from the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office and an official from Medicare’s Center for Program Integrity.

Medicare is also likely to dominate talks at the White House Conference on Aging on Monday.

The annual event will include sessions on retirement security, healthy aging, long-term services and preventing elder financial exploitation and abuse. This year’s conference marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicare and the 80th for Social Security.


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