Senate Advances FY 2016 FDA Spending Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced an appropriations bill by a vote of 28-2 that would fund the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture for the coming fiscal year. The bill adheres to sequestration level spending limits and contains $20.5 billion in discretionary funding -- $64 million below the current spending level and $1.1 billion below the President’s budget request. The measure contains $123.3 billion in mandatory funding. Democratic committee members argued that the bill does not provide enough funding for provisions such as antibiotic research, the FDA Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA), oversight of drug compounding facilities, and the evaluation of sunscreens. Democrats continue to push for a new budget deal to lift the budget ceiling before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. Of the 12 annual spending bills, the Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill is the 11th of 13 bills to be approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senate Reauthorizes the Older Americans Act

The Senate unanimously approved the bipartisan Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015 (S. 192) last week. The legislation supports social and nutritional services for nearly 12 million seniors. It has not been reauthorized since 2006. The law expired in 2011 and has been funded through continuing resolutions in the years since. Passage of the bill coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act being signed into law. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), who is leading the effort to reauthorize the law in the House, has said that her chamber’s current focus is on an appropriate funding formula for the bill.

House Passes Breast Cancer Research Funding Bill

The House overwhelmingly approved the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Act last week by a roll call vote 421-9. The bill directs the Treasury to issue a commemorative coin to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Debate on the bill was stalled by language that would have provided half of the coins’ proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which supports cancer screenings provided through Planned Parenthood. The later group’s connection to abortions resulted in the Komen language being pulled from the bill prior to passage and a number of Republican members removing their names as cosponsors of the bill.

White House Holds Conference on Aging

The White House Conference on Aging was held last week, consisting of a day-long discussion focusing on caregiving, financial security, elder justice and technology. The Conference corresponded with the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, and featured a number of announcements from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing a rule to update the quality and safety requirements for nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities
  • The National Prevention Council will release a Healthy Aging Action Plan to advance the National Prevention Strategy, a guide to the most effective strategies for improving health and well-being
  • HHS will be update the National Plan to address Alzheimer’s Disease
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will create an Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias training curriculum
  • The Administration on Community Living is launching a $4 million Brain Health Awareness Campaign
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is launching a free on-line course offering continuing education credits on making falls prevention a routine part of clinical care
  • HRSA will grant $35 million in awards to health professions training programs to expand geriatrics education
  • CMS will partner with patient and provider organizations to disseminate information to patients and members on Medicare preventive benefits

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