Judge Dismisses Lawsuit to Block States from Importing Drugs
On Tuesday, US District Court Judge Timothy Kelly dismissed a lawsuit from PhRMA that sought to block states from importing prescription drugs from Canada. In his 26-page opinion, Kelly ruled that the plaintiffs were unable to prove that drug companies would face a “concrete risk of harm” from allowing drugs to be imported. Additionally, Kelly explained that the drug industry lacked standing to file the lawsuit because there is no guarantee that the federal government will approve any state plans on drug importation. The ruling comes amid growing concern about the rising cost of prescription drugs. Over the years, many older Americans have traveled to Canada to purchase lower-cost drugs, while others have turned to online websites to purchase Canadian drugs.
PPE Manufacturers Launch New Lobbying Group
On Thursday, nine manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) and health care supply chain stakeholders launched the American Medical Manufacturers Association (AMMA) to lobby for domestic production of PPE. Most PPE used in US hospitals is currently manufactured in China, making it more vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and export restrictions, as was the case at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. To make American-made PPE more affordable, the AMMA will advocate for federal tax credits at a much higher reimbursement rate for hospital systems that purchase American-made equipment.
Survey: Most Hospitals Not Complying with Price Transparency Rule
Only about 25% of hospitals are fully complying with a federal price transparency rule, according to a new survey of 2,000 large hospitals from the Patient Rights Advocate. Implemented at the start of 2021, the Hospital Transparency Rule requires all hospitals to post their prices online in an accessible and searchable format. While the survey found that most hospitals had posted their files online, the survey’s authors did not deem these hospitals to be fully compliant because the files were incomplete or not clearly associated with a plan or person. However, the survey did show an increase of compliant hospitals from a previous survey in August 2022 where only 16% of hospitals were considered fully compliant. Lawmakers from both parties have expressed an interest in exploring hospitals’ compliance with price transparency rule in the new Congress.
CDC Adds COVID-19 Shots to Immunization Schedules for Children, Adults
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added COVID-19 vaccines to its immunization schedules for children, adolescents, and adults. Changes to the schedules also include new recommendations on influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, as well as new vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), and for hepatitis B. The inclusion of COVID-19 vaccines on the schedules normalizes the vaccines by being considered another routinely recommended vaccine. However, the updated schedules do not mean schools will require COVID-19 vaccines, as school vaccination requirements are determined by state or local jurisdictions.
IMCYI: Labor Advocates Call for Senate Staff to Unionize
Amid an uncertain future for House staffer unions, the Congressional Workers Union (CWU) is urging Senate leaders to hold a vote later this month on whether to allow Senate staffers to unionize. According to the CWU, if the Senate does not hold a vote by March, two Senate offices will voluntary take steps to seek voluntary recognition. The House started allowing offices to unionize last year when the chamber was controlled by Democrats, but the new Republican majority in the House has since banned staff unions. For unions to become a reality in the upper chamber, the Senate would have to approve an authorizing resolution. However, given the 60-vote filibuster threshold, any successful resolution would require GOP support, and so far, no Senate Republicans have voiced their support for such a move.