HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Schumer Seeks to Slash Insulin Prices

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Senate Democrats are reviving popular provisions of their drug pricing bill aimed at lowering the cost of insulin, lawmakers said Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Democrats would include certain insulin provisions in their drug pricing package, but didn’t specify which ones would return.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said in an interview that she’s trying to resurrect a provision that would subject all insulin products automatically to government negotiations. These and other provisions aimed at insulin—including a $35 per month cap on out-of-pocket costs for the diabetes medicine—were omitted from the latest partisan drug pricing, climate and tax reconciliation legislation, set for a vote in the Senate as soon as next week.Read more from Alex Ruoff.

Related: August Recess Start Date in the Air as Senators Await Ruling

More on Reconciliation:

  • Black Lung Aid: Coal miners sick from black-lung disease would get a permanent income stream to help finance disability benefits under the partisan deal announced Wednesday from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Schumer. The package includes a permanent extension of the black lung excise tax. Read more from Kellie Lunney.
  • Medicaid Gap Push: House Democrats including Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) urged Schumer to include in the deal a solution for uninsured Americans “stuck in the ‘Medicaid coverage gap.’” These are low-income Americans who neither qualify for Medicaid assistance in their states nor Affordable Care Act coverage. Read the letter here.
  • Senate Tax, Climate, Drugs Bill in Limbo as Sinema Reviews Text

Also on Lawmakers’ Radars

Democrats Seek $350 Million Abortion Travel Fund: Senate Democrats want to create a $350 million fund to help people who live in states where abortion is illegal to travel to where it’s still legal and roll back the Hyde amendment, a long-standing ban on using federal funds for abortion. The changes are part of $216 billion spending bill for the departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services for fiscal 2023. Republicans immediately called such provisions “poison pills.” Read more from Alex Ruoff and Jeannie Baumann.

  • Abortion Interstate Travel: In the Senate’s Commerce-Justice Science bill, federal law enforcement would be barred from investigating or prosecuting anyone who crosses state lines to have an abortion. It would also bar the Justice Department from interfering with states that have legalized medical marijuana. Read more from Jack Fitzpatrick.
  • VA Health Programs: In the Senate’s Military Construction-VA bill, Veterans Affairs Department health programs would get $118.7 billion, a $21.7 billion increase over fiscal 2022. Senate Democrats categorized VA health funds separately from non-defense and defense funds when they released their 12 annual spending bills. Read more from Jack Fitzpatrick.


FDA Layoffs Loom, Califf Says: FDA employees could start receiving layoff warnings by September if House and Senate leaders don’t reach a compromise to reauthorize the fees that help fund the agency by then, Commissioner Robert Califf said Thursday. Celine Castronuovo has more.

Schumer to Try Again on Burn Pits Bill: Schumer said Thursday he’ll bring the legislation giving veterans exposed to toxic burn pits access to expanded health benefits back to the floor next week, and that he will allow Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to bring an amendment addressing mandatory spending to the floor for debate. Read more from Diego Areas Munhoz.

Hawley Seeks Probe of Amazon-One Medical Deal: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wants the Federal Trade Commission to review how will manage health data after it purchases primary care provider One Medical for $3.49 billion. The FTC should press Amazon on whether it will establish firewalls between patient data and retail customer data, Hawley said in a letter. Andrea Vittorio has more.

Industry & Regulation News

Biden Team Makes Stern Contraceptive Coverage Reminder: The Biden administration issued guidance Thursday to reinforce Obamacare requirements that health plans cover contraceptive coverage at no cost to participants. The guidance from the Labor, Health and Human Services, Treasury departments follows an executive order issued by Biden July 8 to boost reproductive health care access following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Read more from Sara Hansard.

Biden Unveils School Mental Health Funds: The Biden administration announced Friday $300 million in awards intended to expand mental health services access in schools. The funds, which were secured through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (Public Law 117-159) and this year’s bipartisan omnibus agreement (Public Law 117-103), also aim to help institutions of higher education create a stronger pipeline into the mental health profession as schools prepare for the new school year. The Department of Education is set to begin disbursing some of the money next week, Ayanna Alexander reports.

FTC’s Balancing Act on Pharmacy Benefit Managers: The FTC will have to sift through competing claims within the pharmacy supply chains as it probes the entities that manage prescription drug benefits. Read more from Celine Castronuovo.

Nursing Home Infections Spur Call for HHS Action on Prevention: A federal watchdog agency wants the Biden administration to consider updating its regulations to clarify that nursing homes “must include emerging infectious diseases as a risk” to be accounted for in a facility’s emergency preparedness plan. Read more from Tony Pugh.

More Headlines:

With assistance from Ayanna Alexander

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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