Health Care at the Democratic National Convention

During their presidential nominating convention last week, Democrats spoke on a wide range of health policy issues and touched upon Hillary Clinton’s personal experience in the health care space. On the first night of the convention, the party showed a video about drug abuse and addiction, which was followed by speeches on the issue from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and a grandmother whose family was affected by the opioid epidemic. During his speech fully endorsing Clinton as the Democratic nominee, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) spoke about his vision for health care in the future – allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, the ability for Americans age 55 and older to opt-in to Medicare, and the availability of a public option – a vision which he says he shares with Hillary Clinton. A video outlining Clinton’s commitment to health coverage expansion was also shown. Speakers applauded Clinton’s efforts to pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and also noted her work on veterans’ and military health care during her time on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Her failure on health care reform in 1993 was acknowledged, and both Bill and Chelsea Clinton spoke about how the experience shaped her as both a person and a politician. Clinton’s support for women’s health was celebrated by speakers like Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. Other speakers brought a more personal experience, explaining Clinton’s work with disabled children and her fight for 9/11 first responders’ health benefits. During her own speech, Clinton promised to address the rising cost of prescription drugs. Speakers also outlined the public health priorities that would be advanced under a Clinton administration, including gun control and reproductive rights. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) honored Rep. Mark Takai (D-Hawaii), who recently passed away from pancreatic cancer, and expressed hope that the Cancer Moonshot would continue if Clinton is elected.

Administration to Spend $100 Million on Antibiotic Resistance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the agency will spend $67 million in the month of August to support efforts to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections. The money will aid state and local public health departments track resistant outbreaks and bolster infectious disease prevention infrastructure. This will be accomplished through surveillance activities, local tracking capabilities, and strengthening coordinated medical care. Some states will also receive investments for the whole genome sequencing of specific bacteria. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also announced that it would be joining other organizations as a part of the world’s largest public-private partnership focused on the discovery of new antibiotics, known as the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will join other government, academia and industry partners as part of CARB-X. BARDA will spend at least $30 million, and up to $250 million over the next five years, to advance promising treatments through the late-stage development process. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will support the partnership through research and work on early-stage antibiotic development.

Lawmakers Consider Changes to Budget Process

In recent months, both the House and Senate Budget Committees have held hearings to examine how to improve the current budget process, which was established by the Budget Act in 1974. Senate Budget Committee member David Perdue (R-Ga.) has partnered with Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) to circulate a white paper (included as an Appendix) calling for major reforms to the budget and appropriations process. The white paper would give budget resolutions force of law, include mandatory spending, discretionary spending, and tax expenditures in the budget process, enforce consequences on Congress if the government is not funded on time, and revise the appropriations timeline. One option being considered is the use of biennial budgeting. In order to also address the nation’s growing debt, the lawmakers have discussed setting a target for debt as a percentage of GDP over time. Sen. Perdue is hopeful that budget reform legislation could be produced before the end of the 114th Congress.

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