Lawmakers Inquire on Status of Opioid National Emergency Declaration

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have written to the President requesting information on why the Administration has yet to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. On August 10, President Trump stated that the Administration was drafting documents to make the declaration official. Since that time, however, Trump has not followed up on his verbal commitment. “Emergency declarations can help combat epidemics by freeing up funds, promoting innovative programs, and making treatments more accessible to vulnerable populations,” the senators explain. They urge the President to implement the preliminary recommendations of the Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis – which includes the declaration of a national emergency – without delay. During a statement last week on his latest executive order, the President did state that he still plans to formally declare a national emergency related to the opioid epidemic.

NIH Announces New Moonshot Partnership

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a new public-private research collaboration in partnership with 11 biopharmaceutical companies to increase the number of cancer treatments available. The Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT) will be a five-year, $215 million initiative. This latest step from the Cancer Moonshot will focus on advancing new immunotherapy treatments and research to understand how these treatments work. PACT also aims to facilitate information sharing and research coordination in order to decrease duplicative work in the field.

Hargan Named Acting HHS Secretary

President Trump announced that Eric Hargan will fill the position of Acting Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Hargan was recently confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services. He will step in for Don Wright, an HHS official who had been serving in the post since former secretary Tom Price resigned late last month.

In a recent interview, the President stated that he plans to leave many other positions requiring a presidential appointment vacant. He argued that the size of some federal agencies is unnecessarily large, and that the decision to leave some offices understaffed is part of an intentional effort to reduce the size of the federal government. Sources estimate that there are 289 out of 600 key positions in the administration without a presidential nominee.

House Passes National Clinical Care Commission Act

The House of Representatives passed S. 920, the National Clinical Care Commission Act, by voice vote last week. The legislation will establish a national clinical care commission to evaluate and recommend solutions for better care coordination and use of federal programs to improve care for people with metabolic syndromes and related autoimmune disorders.

CHIP Vote Postponed to Continue Pay For Negotiations

Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Greg Walden (R-Ore.) postponed floor consideration of legislation to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at the request of House Democrats, who asked for more time to negotiate bipartisan offsets for the bill. If a deal was not reached by Friday, October 13, Walden said that he expected the full House to begin consideration of the legislation immediately following this week’s district work period. Democrats oppose the current House Republican proposed offsets that would make cuts to the Prevention and Public Health Fund and increase premiums for high-income Medicare beneficiaries.

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