HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Bid for GOP Votes on Insulin Bill Falters

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Senate Democrats put a central piece of their drug pricing agenda into the hands of their Republican colleagues, only to learn they’re not rushing to hand over a win. That trust may delay a price cap on insulin, which can cost nearly $100 per vial in the US, more than five times the average cost in Canada.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said he plans to hold a vote soon on a measure from a bipartisan duo to cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $35 a month. But passing the measure—offered by from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)—requires Republican support, and key GOP senators say they’re not ready for a vote just yet.

“I agree we’ve got to deal with insulin, but I don’t think they’ve got the right mechanism to do it just yet,” said Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. Crapo said he agrees with Republicans who want to hold a hearing on the legislation before it’s brought to a vote on the floor. Read more from Alex Ruoff.

Democrats earlier decided to drop insulin-related provisions from a sweeping partisan spending bill, but new demands from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) threaten to strip other health-related measures from the legislation. Manchin told Schumer he’s only willing to support legislation to lower prescription drug prices and extend enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies, according to three people familiar with the matter.

That leaves Democrats in a position of accepting a much skinnier package shorn of nearly all of their long-term ambitions from a year ago, or getting nothing. Yet the loss of plans to extend the solvency of Medicare, and other provisions will be a bitter pill for many Democrats on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Ari Natter, Steven T. Dennis and Colin Wilhelm have more.

Also Happening on the Hill

FDA Funding in Peril as Lawmakers Diverge on User Fee Deal: Food and Drug Administration funding is in question after a key negotiator Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) Thursday proposed walking away from months of efforts to overhaul the agency’s fast-track approval system. House leaders are now urging the Senate to vote quickly on their proposal (H.R. 7667) for reauthorizing industry user fees that help fund the FDA after the Senate health committee’s ranking member proposed a stripped down version lacking several previously negotiated provisions. Read more from Celine Castronuovo and Alex Ruoff.

Infant Formula Imports: US tariffs on infant formula would be temporarily suspended under H.R. 8351 — set for a House vote Friday— following a shortage caused by supply chain issues and recalls of domestically produced formula. BGOV OnPoint: Congress Races to Address Baby Formula Shortage

Senators to Pitch Weed Decriminalization Bill: Senate Democrats plan to introduce a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level next week, a person familiar with the matter said, although the legislation faces long odds in the evenly divided chamber. Schumer worked with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on the measure. Jarrell Dillard has more.

America’s Abortion Landscape

House to Vote on Doomed Abortion Bills: The House is set to vote today on two bills today that would enshrine the right to abortion and the right to travel out of state for an abortion into law. None of the legislation is expected to become law amid a wall of opposition by Senate Republicans. The bills are:

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) yesterday sought to quickly pass legislation (S. 4504) similar to H.R. 8297 after Senate Democrats spent the morning calling for its protections. But Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) blocked the bill from swift passage, Zach C. Cohen reports.

Texas Sues to Block Emergency Abortions Rule: Texas sued to block a new Biden administration rule that emergency abortions for medical reasons in hospitals take priority over state bans on such procedures. The requirement to protect pregnant patients facing serious medical complications “seeks to transform every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. Read more from Erik Larson.


  • In South Carolina, two abortion providers sued the state, seeking a declaration that a law banning abortions after about six weeks violates the state’s constitution. It’s the latest in a series of cases that have been filed to stop abortion restrictions under state constitutions. Read more from Mary Anne Pazanowski.
  • Tech industry group the Chamber of Progress is urging the Justice Department to rein in law enforcement’s pursuit of digital data like location history in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Read more from Andrea Vittorio.
  • The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology will hold a virtual certification exam in the fall in part due to concerns for prospective OB-GYNs’ safety following the Supreme Court’s decision. About a thousand future OB-GYNs would have had to travel to Texas in the fall to take their board certification exam, which advocates worried could increase their risk of being prosecuted under the state’s strict anti-abortion law. Read more from Allie Reed.
  • Related: Big Law Mostly Quiet on Abortion Aid as Texas Battle Rages

What Else to Know Today

Tobacco-Free Vape Makers Face FDA Moves: The FDA said it has issued warnings to more than 100 retailers for illegally selling synthetic nicotine products to underage Americans, marking its first enforcement moves in an industry that’s long gone without federal oversight. Celine Castronuovo has more.

Nursing Homes Seek Latitude on Staff Mandate, Funds to Meet It: Nursing homes are seeking lots of flexibility, forgiveness, and funding when the Biden administration implements its mandatory minimum staffing requirements for the facilities next year. Read more from Tony Pugh.

9-8-8 Suicide Hotline to Transition This Weekend: The transition of the national suicide hotline to the “easy-to-remember” 988 begins July 16, an HHS official told reporters. The Biden administration has invested over $430 million into the changeover, and in the last year the hotline took 13% more calls, 148% more chats, and 77% more texts, the official said. However, success will depend on how states manage their call centers, Shira Stein reports.

More Headlines:

With assistance from Zach C. Cohen and Shira Stein

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at; Michaela Ross at

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