Week ahead: House panel begins work on opioid bills

Week ahead: House panel begins work on opioid bills
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The House Energy and Commerce Committee is launching legislative work on bills aimed at curbing the nation's opioid epidemic, which resulted in more deaths last year than car accidents.

Combating the opioid epidemic has been a bright spot of bipartisanship in the past, particularly when Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in 2016. Lawmakers are hoping it can be a bipartisan effort again this year.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHere are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag MORE (R-Ore.) wants to see the House pass opioid legislation by Memorial Day weekend. The panel plans to hold three legislative hearings. Wednesday marks the first hearing, where lawmakers will examine eight bills on enforcement and patient safety. The next two hearings will focus on prevention and insurance coverage, respectively.

On the other side of the Capitol, Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss MORE (D-R.I.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget WANTED: A Republican with courage Companies warn Trump trade war is about to hit consumers MORE (R-Ohio) are working on a bill Whitehouse referred to as "CARA 2.0."

Congress approved $6 billion for the opioid and mental health crises in a two-year budget deal passed earlier this month.

The proposed merger between health care giants CVS and Aetna will receive lawmakers' scrutiny in the coming week in a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing. Regulators don't appear ready to sign off on the $69 billion deal for CVS Health to acquire Aetna. Department of Justice staff asked the companies to provide them with more information earlier this month.
Negotiations are also likely to continue on legislation aimed at stabilizing the ObamaCare insurance markets. Several lawmakers are working to tack it onto a broader government spending package that must be passed by March 23 to avoid a shutdown.

Before the Presidents Day recess, top Republican negotiators met to discuss a way to bridge the gap between the House and Senate proposals.

GOP Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderCollins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday It's time for Republicans to lead (again) on climate MORE (Tenn.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (Maine) met with Walden to discuss two main differences between the chambers' bills. The Senate version provides $5 billion per year to help insurance companies offset the costs of covering the chronically ill, whereas the House version would provide $10 billion.

Additionally, House Republicans want the measure to include the Hyde amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortions, while Democrats oppose this provision.

 

Hearings:

Tuesday, a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee will examine the proposed CVS and Aetna merger

Tuesday, Senate Health Committee on the role of technology in preventing addiction

Wednesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on combating the opioid crisis

 

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