Health Policy Report

The Week in Review

The House and Senate have adjourned for August recess. Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene for legislative business on Tuesday, September 5. The Senate will meet in “pro-forma” sessions every few days during the recess, which will effectively block President Trump from being able to make recess appointments over the break.


Health Policy Report

The Week in Review

While the House adjourned at the end of July for the traditional August recess, the upper chamber was in session last week to handle legislative business that had been delayed due to Republican’s consideration of their Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill. The Senate passed sweeping legislation to reauthorize user fees that fund the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) review of drugs and medical-devices, along with a pair of targeted health care bills addressing opioids and experimental drugs (more on these below).


Today on the Hill: Senate Approves FDA User Fees, Dozens of Nominations Before August Recess

After reaching an agreement to pass key health care legislation and approve dozens of President Trump’s nominations, the Senate has adjourned for August recess — trimming a week from their previously-extended summer work period. The Senate passed sweeping legislation (H.R.2430) yesterday to renew and enhance the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) drug, medical-device, biosimilar, and generic-drug user-fee provisions. The Senate also passed an unrelated pair of pharmaceutical-related bills: (1) a right-to-try bill (S. 204), which provides terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs and treatments outside of clinical trials, and (2) a bipartisan opioids bill (S. 581) that would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop standards for hospitals and physicians to denote a patient’s history of opioid addiction in medical records.


Chas Thomas Joins Thorn Run Partners

For immediate release: July 24, 2017

Contact: Andrew Rosenberg, (202) 247-6301

Thorn Run Partners (TRP) announced today the addition of Capitol Hill staffer Charles (Chas) Thomas as Vice President. Thomas joins TRP from the Office of Representative Robert Pittenger (R-NC), where he served as Senior Legislative Assistant and Pittenger’s lead staff liaison to the House Financial Services Committee, including the Monetary Policy & Trade and Financial Institutions & Consumer Credit Subcommittees.


Today on the Hill: Senate Votes on FDA User Fee Package after Deal Reached on ‘Right-to-Try’ Bill

The Senate appears poised to move forward on the House-passed FDA Reauthorization Act (FDARA) (H.R.2430) after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) agreed to pull back his threat to hold up the bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has committed to taking up an amended version of Sen. Johnson’s right-to-try legislation to the floor in a separate vote, clearing the way for Senate consideration of the user fee package. FDARA would renew and enhance the FDA drug, medical-device, biosimilar, and generic-drug user-fee provisions. The legislation, which passed the House on July 12, is nearly identical to a similar package (S. 934) which cleared the Senate HELP Committee in May on a bipartisan basis. If an agreement reached by leadership holds, FDA could be passed by unanimous consent with no amendments as soon as 11:00am today.


Financial Services Report

Our Take

Loyal readers may recall that we had said the best way to view Washington this year was to consider it is a play in four acts.   Perhaps we chose the wrong medium.  Regardless of form, with the House gone for the August recess, and the Senate left in disarray following the dramatic demise of the Obamacare repeal effort, the third act of this drama has come to close, leaving the audience with quite a cliffhanger.  Can they pivot to tax reform?  Can they raise the debt ceiling and fund the government?  Will the President be indicted, and if so, will he pardon himself?  Will North Korean launch a nuclear strike on the mainland?

Stay tuned as all of this – and probably much, much, more – will be on the agenda for next act of this drama we call Washington 2017.


Today on the Hill: Senate Looks to Clear Block of Noms Before Recess; FDA Reauthorization Hits Senate Floor

The Senate continues its nominations work today after yesterday’s successful votes on Kevin Newsom to become a U.S. Circuit Judge and Christopher Wray to become Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director. Wray’s confirmation came by a wide bipartisan margin, 92-5, as lawmakers were satisfied by the former Justice Department official’s credentials and willingness to buck the White House as necessary in his new role. With the Wray confirmation cleared, Senate leaders from both parties are now reportedly working to fill a block of remaining vacancies before the chamber adjourns for the August recess. That move may provide additional cover for Senate Democrats should they elect to force pro forma sessions throughout the month in order to prevent the White House from making any recess appointments that circumvent the traditional Senate confirmation process.


Today on the Hill: Senate GOP Wants to Move on From Health Care Despite White House Pressure

As the Senate continues to plot how to use its bonus floor time in August, Senate Republicans are pushing back against pressure from the White House to make yet another attempt at passing legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Republican leadership has indicated — despite a barrage of tweets from the President — that it wants to move on to other issues, with Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) saying yesterday that “there's just too much animosity and we're too divided on healthcare.” Adding to the unlikelihood that healthcare is addressed in the near future is the fact that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — the key defector in last week’s 49-51 failed vote — is in Arizona receiving cancer treatment. A path to 50 votes on a partisan bill would therefore entail flipping the votes of either Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) or Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), both of whom have been firm in their opposition to Republican plans that would result in steep coverage losses.


This Week on the Hill: McConnell Plans August Action on Noms, FDA Reauthorization, Debt Ceiling

Despite last week’s failed vote on the “skinny” repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Senate will go forward with its plans to stay in session for two weeks into its traditional August recess. Although the exact schedule remains unclear, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is reportedly hoping to use the time to consider a few of the items that will require action before the end of the current fiscal year on Sep. 30, including a House-passed reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a debt ceiling hike. Consideration of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was initially expected, but objections from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) return to Arizona for cancer treatment have put those plans on hold.


Health Policy Report

The Week in Review

There was no shortage of drama on Capitol Hill last week as the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) suffered another setback in a failed overnight vote on the Senate floor. Three Republicans joined all Democrats in voting down the so-called “skinny” repeal” that was designed to represent a least common denominator between the moderate and conservative wings of the Republican caucus. While the 49-51 defeat was a major blow for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), it is unclear whether the majority party will be abandoning their tumultuous effort to reshape the nation’s healthcare system. A full breakdown on last week’s events is provided in the roundup below.