HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Biden Pushes for Separate Drug-Price Bill

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President Joe Biden vowed to take executive action on climate change after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) put a sweeping tax and energy bill on hold, telling congressional Democrats to move ahead on a smaller measure to rein in drug prices and stop premium hikes for Obamacare that he would sign.

Manchin said Friday he’d be willing back a prescription drug pricing package tied to a two-year extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies before a scheduled August recess. But he put the brakes on enacting a wider package of tax changes and measures to address climate change until at least September.

The drug price bill would allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of some drugs—generating nearly $300 billion in savings for the government—and cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors at $2,000 per year. An extension of expanded subsidies for ACA premiums would avoid the cost of some plans tripling in January, when the enlarged subsidies phase out. Notices of those premium increases begin going out in August in some states.

Senate Democrats are moving forward this week on working with the Senate parliamentarian official to ensure a drug price bill complies with Senate budget rules, according to a Senate aide. This is step is necessary before any legislation can be brought to the floor under the fast-track budget process that bypasses Republicans. Read more from Nancy Cook and Erik Wasson.

Yellen Sees Room for Meaningful Deal With Manchin Over Meds, ACA: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen over the weekend said the Biden administration can and should still move ahead with important legislation that will help lower costs for American consumers, despite the blow to the wider fiscal package from Manchin. Christopher Condon has more.

Happening on the Hill

Hearings on the Hill:

  • The House Oversight Committee’s Select Coronavirus Subcommittee holds a Tuesday hearing on Long Covid and its health consequences.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee holds a Tuesday hearing on the health impacts of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee holds a Wednesday hearing on the Food and Drug Administration, with Commissioner Robert Califf set to testify.
  • BGOV Calendar: See full list of events this week.

House Minibus Vote: The House will vote on a six-bill fiscal 2023 appropriations minibus (H.R. 8294) this week, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). The House Rules Committee will meet on Monday to outline floor debate on the package, which includes Agriculture-FDA funding.

Democrats Plan Contraceptive Access Vote: The House will vote this week on creating a statutory right H.R. 8373) to contraception after the Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade prompted concerns that legal cases that have guaranteed access could be reexamined. “While Justice Alito specifically claimed that Dobbs was limited to abortion and had no effect on other fundamental rights, I find that assurance to be cold comfort,” House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said at a hearing last Thursday. Read more from Emily Wilkins, Courtney Rozen, and Alex Ruoff.

Meanwhile, the House on Friday passed two measures aimed at protecting abortion access that, given the long odds for the legislation in the Senate, serve primarily as a political marker for Democrats ahead of the midterm elections. Read more from Diego Areas Munhoz.

  • The threat of abortion-related legal liability in Texas has raised difficult-to-answer questions about firms’ plans to help employees travel for out-of-state procedures—including how much sensitive employee information that a company could be forced to disclose in court. Chris Marr, Andrew Vittorio, and Justin Wise have more.
  • Abortion rights advocates are proposing more creative solutions to try to “mitigate the harm” of the Supreme Court’s decision, according to Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, an advocacy group. One nonprofit is now fundraising for a floating clinic-at-sea, which will aim to provide abortions for about 1,800 patients every half-year off the Gulf Coast, outside the borders of states that have banned abortions. Read more from Kelsey Butler.

House Votes to Pause Tariffs on Formula: The House backed bipartisan legislation to suspend tariffs on certain baby formula imports until the end of December, the latest in a series of government efforts to end a shortage of the crucial product. The House passed the bill (H.R. 8351) Friday by 421-2 under suspension of the rules. Read more from Maeve Sheehey.

What Else to Know Today

US Buys More Monkeypox Vaccine: The US has ordered another 2.5 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine that will be available next year as monkeypox continues to spread with more than 1,400 cases reported nationally as of Friday. Madison Muller and Jeannie Baumann have more.

  • US health officials could give open access to an antiviral drug that has been little-studied in humans and comes with a risk of dangerous side effects. The CDC is pursuing an expanded access protocol for Chimerix’s smallpox drug Tembexa to fight the monkeypox virus, according to documents from an agency meeting in late June. Read more from Madison Muller.

Plan Would Give Hospitals Outpatient Pay Bump: Medicare would pay acute care hospitals $6.2 billion—2.7%—more for outpatient services in fiscal 2023, the Biden administration proposed Friday. The proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would also increase Medicare payments for ambulatory surgical centers by $130 million, or 2.7%. Read more from Allie Reed.

Judge Blocks Biden Rules for Trans Access to Bathrooms, Sports: A judge in Tennessee temporarily blocked the Biden administration’s rules ensuring transgender people at schools and workplaces have access to bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams, the latest setback for LGBTQ Americans amid a backlash from Republican-led states. Read more from Erik Larson.

Hospital Blocks Fertility Coverage for LGBT Staff: An Illinois-based Catholic hospital system that employs over 24,000 people will only cover fertility treatment for workers in opposite-sex marriages, a policy some lawyers say could run afoul of federal discrimination laws. Read more from Shira Stein.

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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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