Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), a member of the House Rules Committee and Republican Leader of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, delivered the following remarks in today's as the Energy and Commerce Committee considered 30 pieces of legislation.
As Prepared for Delivery:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Today’s markup includes some important pieces of legislation, some of which have moved through the Health Subcommittee. These bills span our health care jurisdiction from addressing mental health issues such as suicide to addressing sudden infant death syndrome to paving the road to more continuous manufacturing of pharmaceuticals on American soil.
We are moving these bills in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis. When we reauthorized the Pandemic All Hazards Preparedness Act last year just after the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Spanish Influenza, we never could have predicted a pandemic would affect the world as this 2019 novel coronavirus has. It has shocked our health care system and our supply chains, but we have already learned that we need to make some changes.
H.R. 7574 increases the authorization of the Strategic National Stockpile and makes much needed revisions to allow a more robust and nimble response. This bill is comprised of policies championed by many Members of this Committee and informed by conversations with people such as the former director of the Strategic National Stockpile, Greg Burrell. Other bills will help deliver safe and effective pharmaceuticals and medical devices to Americans, such as Rep. Guthrie’s H.R. 5663, the Safeguarding Therapeutics Act; H.R. 4712, the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act; and H.R. 4866, the National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act of 2019. In the wake of this novel coronavirus outbreak, it is important that our supply chain, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and medical devices are available and safe.
These pieces of legislation are important to public health protection by allowing the HHS Secretary to destroy certain counterfeit medical devices, protecting orphan drugs, and improving continuous manufacturing capabilities.
I am especially appreciative of the inclusion of H.R. 5534, the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act, a policy that I have championed for nearly a decade. While Medicare allows certain individuals with end-stage renal disease to enroll in Medicare and will cover a patient’s kidney transplant, Medicare stops covering the immunosuppressive drugs after 36 months. Without these drugs, kidney transplant patients’ immune systems will reject their donated kidney and send them right back to dialysis. A kidney transplant is an investment in a patient’s future health and quality of life. We should protect that investment by covering these anti-rejection drugs past 36 months for kidney transplant patients who do not have other health insurance coverage. My bill will do just that, and I look forward to advancing it through the full committee to the House floor.