House Passes Bio-Threat Vaccines, Medicare Coverage Bills

The House passed several health measures Wednesday including bills on developing vaccines to thwart bio-threats and on Medicare coverage for immune deficiency care.

The Hill: House Reauthorizes Bio-Threat Readiness Program, Other Health Laws
The House voted Wednesday to extend a program aimed at developing vaccines and other responses to bio-threats, along with other health-related bills, including one that could lead to Medicare coverage for home IVIG treatments. In a 383-16 vote, members approved the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act, H.R. 6672, which reauthorizes programs that help prepare for bio-threats. These programs are now carried out under the Public Health Service Act and other laws dealing with public health (Kasperowicz, 12/19).

CQ HealthBeat: Medicare Coverage For Immune Deficiency Care At Home Advanced By House
The House passed a bill Wednesday that would establish a demonstration project to evaluate the benefits of allowing Medicare to cover in-home intravenous treatments for patients with primary immune deficiency disease. The disease leaves patients unable to produce protective antibodies or develop immunity, requiring infusions of intravenous immunoglobulin to help them fight infections. Changes in Medicare reimbursement policy have had the unintended consequence of limiting the access of many beneficiaries to this lifesaving treatment (McGeehan, 12/19).

And Sen. Barbara Mikulski will likely be the next head of the Senate Appropriations Committee --

CQ HealthBeat: Mikulski, A Passionate NIH Booster, Will Lead Senate Appropriations Panel
The expectation that Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski will be the new chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee places a passionate advocate of the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration in a powerful position to protect the agencies' funding amid deficit reduction pressures. Mikulski is likely to be officially named as the head of the panel by her Democratic colleagues at Thursday's caucus meeting. She would become the first woman to chair that committee. The Maryland Democrat also has been a fierce advocate for federal employees and for funding of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and its health system, regarded by many as one of the finest hospitals in the world (Reichard, 12/19).

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