Week Ahead: It’s Quiet…Too Quiet

After two tumultuous weeks dominated by historic trials, reactions to an Israeli hostage recuse mission, and a visit to Capitol Hill by former President Trump, this week looks to be a lot quieter. But looks can be deceiving, and things are always going on behind the scenes in this town if you know where to look. So, let’s get to it. Welcome to the Week Ahead!

The Administration

OMB on the Clock to Review DEA Rule on Prescribing Controlled Substances Via Telehealth

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has received a proposed rule from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that would allow individuals to be prescribed certain controlled substances from a practitioner utilizing telehealth even if they had not had an in-person evaluation from the practitioner. The proposed rule would only apply to non-narcotic schedule III-V controlled medications when certain circumstances are met.

The DEA currently has temporary telehealth flexibilities in place through the end of the year. If the agency does not finalize its proposed rule before then, patient advocates argue that those who have been utilizing the flexibilities will face barriers to prescriptions for conditions such as ADHD.

The Senate

Senate Finance Chair Readies Rural Maternal Health Bill

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced on June 14 that he will be holding a press call on June 17 to preview legislation he plans to introduce to address concerns about the availability of maternal health services in rural areas. The press call is scheduled for 2 PM EST.

Both rural and maternal health care are areas with huge potential for bipartisanship. But the devil is in the details…

While the House is Away the Senate will Play…Detective

What do you do if you’re in the Senate, but the House is out of session? Of course, you can vote on nominations. But It’s a lot more fun to hold investigations on hot button issues that are sure to make headlines. We are tracking a couple of such investigations in 2 committees this week.

  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee
    • o   Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT)was ready to hold a vote to subpoena Novo Nordisk’s President of North American Operations to testify about the company’s pricing of Ozempic and Wegovy in the United States.
    • However, Chair Sanders dropped his threat after the company’s global CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said he will testify at a hearing scheduled for September, according to Inside Health Policy.
    • This sets the stage for a potentially dramatic hearing 2 months before the 2024 elections.
    • But Novo Nordisk is not out of the woods yet, because the HELP Committee is still scheduled to vote to authorize an investigation into the company at a hearing scheduled for June 18.
  • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC)
    • HSGAC is scheduled to hold a hearing on the origins of the COVID-19.
    • We’ve seen a lot of action on this issue in the House Oversight Committee, with Republicans and Democrats often disagreeing about what the focus of those efforts should be (even issuing conflicting reports).
    • But this is the Senate.  And the Senate is controlled by Democrats. Will we see bipartisan agreement about needed actions to understand the origins of COVID-19, unlike the partisan outcomes of the House hearings?

The House

The Ways to End a Month and What it Means

The House is in recess, so we are looking ahead to when they return. As we wait, we are tracking rumors that the Ways and Means Committee may be planning a markup related to innovation and medical coverage issues.

So What?

After July ends, we go to August recess and the unofficial final push to the November elections. As that date gets closer, many members of Congress will start having more things to do outside of Washington (and we are not talking about field hearings). These rumored hearings might be some of the last ones we see from the committee until after the elections or even until after the end of the year.

There You Have It

One of the reasons this week is so quiet is because Wednesday, June 19 is Juneteenth, the federal holiday that marks the date when the news of emancipation reached slaves in Texas in 1865. As we take time to celebrate this important date, we look back on progress so far and recognize the work that still needs to be done to form a more perfect union with liberty and justice for all.  Make it a great week!

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