New Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis

HHS has launched a new action plan to help prevent and treat viral hepatitis which HHS says affects 3.5-5.3 million Americans.  The plan includes initiatives for: educating providers and communities to reduce health disparities; improving testing, care, and treatment; strengthening surveillance to detect viral hepatitis transmission and disease; eliminating transmission of vaccine-preventable viral hepatitis; reducing viral hepatitis caused by drug use; and protecting patients and workers from health care-associated viral hepatitis.

Grants to Help Combat Chronic Disease

HHS announced the availability of more than $100 million in grants for community-based health projects which would help stem the increasing incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease cancer, and obesity.   The state/local “Community Transformation Grants” focus on: tobacco-free living; active living and healthy eating; evidence-based quality clinical and other preventive services, including prevention and control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol; social and emotional wellness, such as facilitating early identification of mental health needs; and health and safe physical environments.  Grant applications to the CDC are due in July.

NIH Issues

Testifying before the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee, NIH Director Francis Collins said that the agency is turning away a higher percentage of grant applications than at any other time in its history, citing the $322 million cuts under the final FY 2011 spending legislation.  Senator Shelby also raised questions about the new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to be established under the NIH.  Director Collins said he wants to have the center address investment problems in advancing new treatments when drug companies consider investment in such developments lacking in potential rate of returns.  While acknowledging the problem, Senator Shelby said that “NIH is not a drug developer” and may not be the answer to the problem.

Upcoming Health Related Committee Hearings and Markups

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (Chairman Harkin, D-Iowa) will hold a hearing titled “A Nation Prepared: Strengthening Medical and Public Health Preparedness and Response”, 2:30 p.m. May 17, 430 Dirksen Bldg. 

Senate Judiciary Committee (Chairman Leahy, D-Vt.) will mark up pending legislation and vote on pending nominations, 10 a.m. May 19, 226 Dirksen Bldg. S 350, S 623 and S 890 carried over from May 12; Agenda: S 350 — Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act of 2011. S 623 — Sunshine in Litigation Act of 2011, S 890 — Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act of 2011

House Appropriations Committee (Chairman Rogers, R-Ky.) will mark up draft legislation that would make fiscal 2012 appropriations for programs related to military construction, veterans affairs and related agencies, May 23, 2359 Rayburn Bldg, Agenda: Draft Bill — Fiscal 2012 Military Construction-VA Appropriations.

House Appropriations Committee (Chairman Rogers, R-Ky.) will mark up draft legislation that would make fiscal 2012 appropriations for programs related to labor, health, human services, education and related agencies, Aug. 2, 2359 Rayburn Bldg, Agenda: Draft Bill — Fiscal 2012 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations.

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee (Chairman Rehberg, R-Mont.) of House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the current status of implementation of the health care overhaul law, Date TBA, 2359 Rayburn Bldg.

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