HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Schumer is trying to cut insulin prices


Senate Democrats are reviving popular provisions in their drug pricing bill aimed at reducing the cost of insulin, lawmakers announced Thursday. Majority Leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) told reporters Democrats would include certain insulin provisions in their drug pricing package but did not specify which ones would be returned.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) said in an interview that she is trying to revive a provision that would automatically subject all insulin products to government negotiations. These and other insulin-targeted regulations — including a $35 monthly cap on the cost price of the diabetes drug — have been included in the latest partisan drug pricing, climate and tax offset legislation soon to be put to the Senate’s vote were submitted, deleted like next week. Read more from Alex Ruoff.

Related: August recess start date on air as senators await decision

More on reconciliation:

  • Black Lung Aid: Coal miners suffering from black lung disease would be treated as part of Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Schumer. The package includes a permanent black lung tax extension. Read more from Kellie Lunney.
  • Medicaid gap push: House Democrats including Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (DS.C.) urged Schumer to include in the deal a solution for uninsured Americans “stuck in the ‘Medicaid coverage gap.'” These are low-income Americans who are not eligible for Medicaid assistance in their states or Affordable Care Act coverage. Read the letter here.
  • Senate tax, climate, drug bill in limbo as Sinema reviews the text

Also on the radar of the legislature

Democrats seek $350 million abortion travel fund: Senate Democrats want to create a $350 million fund to help people living in states where abortion is illegal travel to where it’s still legal and reverse the Hyde Amendment , a long-standing ban on using federal funds for abortions. The changes are part of the $216 billion spending bill for the Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services for fiscal 2023. Republicans were quick to call such provisions “poison pills.” Read more from Alex Ruoff and Jeannie Baumann.

  • Abortion Interstate Travel: The Senate Commerce and Justice bill would bar federal law enforcement agencies from investigating or prosecuting anyone who crosses state lines to have an abortion. It would also prevent the Justice Department from interfering in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Read more from Jack Fitzpatrick.
  • VA Health Programs: In the Senate military construction VA bill, Veterans Affairs Department health care programs would receive $118.7 billion, an increase of $21.7 billion from fiscal 2022. Senate Democrats categorized VA health care funds separately from non- Defense and Defense Fund when they released their 12 annual spending accounts. Read more from Jack Fitzpatrick.


FDA layoffs looming, says Califf: FDA employees could receive layoff warnings beginning in September if House and Senate leaders don’t reach a compromise to re-authorize the fees that help fund the agency until then, Commissioner Robert Califf said Thursday. Celine Castronuovo has more.

Schumer tries again with Burn Pits Bill: Schumer said Thursday he will get legislation back on the ground that would give veterans exposed to toxic burn pits access to expanded health benefits next week, and he will allow sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to table an amendment on the treatment of compulsory expenditure. Read more from Diego Areas Munhoz.

Hawley seeks probe for Amazon-One Medical deal: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wants the Federal Trade Commission to review how will manage health data after it bought primary care provider One Medical for $3.49 billion. The FTC should urge Amazon whether it will put firewalls between patient data and retail customer data, Hawley said in a letter. Andrea Vittorio has more.

Industry and Regulatory News

The Biden team makes a strict reminder about contraceptive coverage: The Biden administration on Thursday issued guidance to reinforce Obamacare requirements that health plans cover contraceptive insurance at no cost to participants. The guidance from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department follows an executive order issued by Biden on July 8 to improve access to reproductive health care after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Read more from Sara Hansard.

Biden unveils school mental health fund: The Biden administration on Friday announced $300 million in bonuses aimed at expanding access to mental health services in schools. The funds, secured through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (Public Law 117-159) and this year’s bipartisan omnibus agreement (Public Law 117-103), also aim to help colleges have a stronger pipeline into the profession of mental health as schools prepare for the new school year. The Ministry of Education is scheduled to start disbursing part of the money next week, reports Ayanna Alexander.

FTC Balanced Act on Pharmacy Benefit Managers: The FTC will have to sift through competing claims within pharmacy supply chains while investigating the facilities that administer the benefits of prescription drugs. Read more from Celine Castronuovo.

Nursing home infections spur HHS prevention efforts: A federal regulator wants the Biden administration to consider updating its regulations to clarify that nursing homes “must include emerging infectious diseases as a risk” to be considered in a facility’s emergency preparedness plan. Read more from Tony Pugh.

More headlines:

Supported by Ajana Alexander

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at [email protected]; Michaela Ross at [email protected]


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