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Burgess’ EMPOWER for Health Act Passes House
Posted by on October 28, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health appreciates the House voting to pass H.R. 2781, EMPOWER for Health Act.

“This legislation reauthorizes the Title VII health professions workforce programs through 2024,” Burgess said. “Reauthorizing Title VII programs is long overdue, especially in a time when our existing physician workforce is struggling to keep up with demand for health care services.”

The EMPOWER for Health Act reauthorizes funding for Area Health Education Centers. These centers are critical in providing both medical education and health care services to medically underserved areas.

Also, this bill reauthorizes funding for our Primary Care Training and Enhancement Program, which provides grants to hospitals and health professional schools to develop and operate supplemental primary care training programs. Primary care is an important aspect of our nation’s health care system, and how many Americans receive the majority of their health care services.

As the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee last Congress, I made it a priority to get this bill across the House floor. While I succeeded in doing so, the Senate did not take up the legislation. I hope this year, the Senate will reauthorize these critically important programs.”

The EMPOWER Act reauthorizes the Title VII health professions workforce programs through fiscal year 2024. Reauthorizing these physician workforce programs will provide much needed stability to those who depend on this funding. Through the reauthorization the following Title VII programs will receive funding:

  • Centers of Excellence
  • Health Professions Training for Diversity
  • Primary Care Training and Enhancement Program
  • Training in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry
  • Area Health Educate Centers
  • National Center for Healthcare Workforce Analysis
  • Public Health Workforce
  • Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Programs
  • Pediatric Health Care Workforce

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Weekly Address – Together Congress moves Forward with SUPPORT Act
Posted by on October 25, 2019

This week marked the 1-year anniversary of the SUPPORT Act being signed into law. Dr. Burgess relays he thoughts about this was a bipartisan effort to put an end to the opioid crisis facing many communities throughout our country in this week's address.

To read his full remarks, click here.
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Burgess puts out Public Service Announcement for DEA’s Take Back Day on October 26, 2019
Posted by on October 23, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, released the following Public Service Announcement (PSA) in support of DEA’s Take Back Day.

The DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of excess prescription drugs. Saturday, October 26, 2019, will serve as the National Take Back Day. To find a location convenient to you, click here.

To watch the full PSA, click here.

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ICYMI: Burgess: Together we can put an end to the opioid epidemic
Posted by on October 22, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, wrote the following op-ed about the anniversary of the SUPPORT Act being signed into law.

Dr. Burgess’ op-ed as printed by the Denton Record-Chronicle

This summer, in Tarrant County, it was reported that a baseball player lost his life to a drug overdose. While the details are still under investigation, many families throughout our country have experienced a similar tragedy due to the opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 130 Americans die from an overdose each day.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I am fighting along with the president to end this epidemic. On Oct. 24, 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law the SUPPORT Act. This legislation provides realistic solutions that span the breadth of the crisis — from prevention and treatment to education and enforcement. This legislation will improve treatment for those with substance use disorders, fight deadly fentanyl, bolster the efforts of agents at our international mail facilities and provide vital resources for new innovative alternatives to treat pain.

In a time when our country seems so divided, Congress was able to put political differences aside and put patients first to find solutions to address this crisis. This law is another tool in the toolbox for communities and federal agencies to successfully combat the epidemic.

This law allows state Medicaid programs to cover care at certain institutions for mental diseases for patients ages 21-64 with any kind of substance abuse disorders. Also, it clarified state Medicaid programs’ ability to provide care for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome in residential pediatric recovery centers and to provide accompanying counseling or other services to mothers.

In addition, this law made several changes to how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) handles pain medications. The Department of Health and Human Services is required to submit a report to Congress on the impact of regulations and state laws that limit the length, quantity or dosage of an opioid prescription. These changes help ensure that proper and effective pain treatment by opioids is not inhibited for Americans who need them.

Also, the SUPPORT Act enables better pain management for our nation’s Medicare beneficiaries, ranging from increased access to substance use disorder treatment, including through the use of telehealth, to modification of physician payment for certain non-opioid treatments in Ambulatory Surgery Centers. The SUPPORT Act contains Medicare provisions that encourage the use of non-opioid analgesics. It also aims to increase efficiency and decrease diversions regarding prescriptions by requiring e-prescribing for the coverage of covered Medicare Part D controlled substances.

Lastly, this law expands Medicare coverage to include Opioid Treatment Programs for the purpose of providing Medication Assisted Treatment. These efforts should provide improved access to treatment for Medicare beneficiaries who have substance use disorders while also incentivizing the use of opioid alternatives. This is important to prevent the development of substance use disorders.

A component in stopping the spread of this epidemic is bolstering the resources available to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and The United States Postal Services to detect illegal substances coming into the country. This law makes improving detection and strengthening the coordination between the FDA and CBP a priority. In March of 2018, I was shocked by the limited tools available to CBP to detect these substances coming into the country during a trip to John F. Kennedy Airport to visit an international mail facility.

A key to fighting this epidemic is through innovation in the development of non-addictive pain and addiction treatment. A bill I championed, the 21st Century Tools for Pain and Addiction Treatments, is included in the SUPPORT Act and requires the FDA to hold at least one public meeting to address the challenges and barriers of developing non-addictive medical products intended to treat pain or addiction. The FDA is also required to issue or update existing guidance documents to help address challenges to developing non-addictive medical products to treat pain. I worked closely with the FDA to get the policy in this law correct and to ensure that it will clarify those pathways for products that we so desperately need.

I agree with President Trump when he said, “Together, we will face this challenge as a national family with conviction, with unity, and with a commitment to love and support our neighbors in times of dire need. Working together, we will defeat this opioid epidemic.”

This law is an example of how Congress can come together for the good of Americans. If we continue to put forward patient-centered bipartisan legislation such as the SUPPORT Act, I am confident we will defeat this epidemic.

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Burgess’ Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act Passes the House
Posted by on October 22, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), urged fellow members of Congress to support the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act.

His Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 835, the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, a bill that I introduced with Representative Jackson-Lee to combat international doping schemes. 

This bill is named after Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s Anti-Doping Agency lab that blew the whistle on the massive, state-run doping scheme that led the International Olympic Committee to suspend Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics. From 2011 to 2015, over 1,000 Russian athletes in 30 sports benefited from an illegal program executed by numerous Russian state agencies at the direction of President Putin. 

Another whistleblower, Yuliya Stepanova, revealed information that led to the formation of an Independent Commission at the World Anti-Doping Agency that investigated, finding a “deeply-rooted culture of cheating” existed in Russia. We heard from Yuliya Stepanova and the lawyer for Dr. Rodchenkov during a Helsinki Commission hearing in July 2018. Also present was Katie Uhlaender, who had been defrauded and cheated out of an Olympic medal as a result of the Russian doping scheme. No athlete should be subjected to doping, either through a state-run program or as a clean competitor. 

In 2015, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency entered into a Roadmap to Compliance agreement with the World Anti-Doping Agency involving 31 criteria for the Russian Agency to be reinstated. Russia’s agreement to deliver additional drug-test lab samples is one of the reasons the World Anti-Doping Agency agreed to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency in late 2018. 

But, just last week the current head of Russia’s Anti-Doping Agency said thousands of changes were made to those drug-test results. The World Anti-Doping Agency had only been able to verify the authenticity of a portion of the provided samples, and these statements confirmed that Russia is still intent on cheating in international sport competitions. The World Anti-Doping Agency is currently considering how to respond, including possibly designating Russia as “noncompliant” and suspending Russian athletes from international sport competitions until the country is again designated as compliant. 

But the doping program goes beyond just harming clean athletes. President Putin views this type of illegal scheme as a geopolitical tool to characterize the West as unfair and oppressive. One year ago, the U.S. Justice Department indicted seven Russian military intelligence officials for a cyberattack on U.S. and other international organizations for exposing Russia’s state-run doping scheme and protecting the whistleblowers, namely Dr. Rodchenkov. 

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act would combat this type of illegal doping scheme and also limit Russia’s sphere of influence as they seek to undermine Western values around the world. The bill will criminalize knowingly facilitating a doping scheme in a major international sport competition where U.S. athletes are competing and the competition organizer receives sponsorship or financial support from a U.S. entity. The bill also allows U.S. citizens to pursue civil action against deceptive competition and provides protection for whistleblowers. 

The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act will ensure that athletes rights are respected, whistleblowers are protected, and criminals are brought to justice. This bill will restore the integrity of international sport competition and uphold the rule of law around the world. I urge support of this bill.”

After Burgess spoke on the floor, the House of Representatives passed the bill by voice vote.  

To view his full remarks, click here

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Burgess Works to Stop Drug Cartels
Posted by on October 22, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) spoke in support of his amendment to H.R. 2513, the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019.

His Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

“This amendment requires an annual report to Congress of anonymized, aggregate data on the number of beneficial owners per reporting corporation or limited liability company, the industry of each reporting corporation or limited liability company, and the location of the beneficial owners.

One of the greatest beneficiaries of the crisis on our southern border is the cartels and coyotes charging $6,000 to $10,000 to smuggle people into our country who do not have legal documentation. Despite the danger, these individuals borrow money from family members to pay cartels and coyotes. If they make it into the United States, they send remittances home through legitimate financial transactions to pay back their family loans.

Throughout this process the coyotes and cartels are making a significant amount of money off of these vulnerable individuals. While many of them likely deal mostly in cash, the possibility exists that they are using shell companies to store or move this illicit money.

Providing data to Congress on how many beneficial owners are behind a company, the industries of the reporting companies, and the locations of the beneficial owners will help identify trends and patterns could aid the fight to combat money laundering and the financing of human smuggling.

We should not be facilitating coyotes and cartels taking advantage of desperate people. Providing this aggregate, anonymized data to Congress will provide some transparency on the networks behind the illicit financing of human and drug smuggling and other nefarious financial activities.

I urge support of this amendment.”

After Burgess spoke on the floor, the House of Representatives passed the amendment by a vote of 395 to 23.  

To view his remarks, click here.

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Burgess Demands Speaker Pelosi Grant him Access to Review Impeachment Investigation Materials
Posted by on October 21, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), member of the House of Representatives Committee on Rules, sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi requesting that Congress vote to authorize an official impeachment inquiry and permission to review the materials gathered by committees conducting the impeachment investigation.

“Speaker Pelosi is putting politics before the U.S. Constitution,” Burgess said. “Under House Rule XI, clause 2(e), members of the House are granted the right to review any committee records. As a member of the Rules Committee, I will have to vote on whether to bring Articles of Impeachment to the House Floor. It is imperative that I am able to review all the materials gathered supporting or refuting Articles of Impeachment in order to make an informed decision.”

“By continuing this investigation without providing members of Congress the opportunity to review all materials gathered by the investigating committees, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have lost all credibility and, most tragically, have abdicated their duty to the Constitution and to the American people.”

Also, in the letter, Burgess reminded Speaker Pelosi that the Constitution provides Congress the authority along with the historical precedent to authorize an official impeachment inquiry. By having Congressional authorization of an impeachment inquiry, the investigatory powers are strengthened and ensure the rights and participation of the minority party. This was granted during both the inquiries for President Nixon and President Clinton.

To read the full letter, click here.

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Weekly Video Address: Congress’ Obligation
Posted by on October 18, 2019

The removal of American Military Forces from Northern Syria should be a call to action for the U.S. Congress. According to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, it is our responsibility to appropriate the funds and authorize any military action. In this week's weekly address, hear my thoughts as to what Congress should and is doing in regard to supporting our allies. Read his full remarks here.

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Burgess Disappointed that Committee will not be able to Deliver on Drug Pricing
Posted by on October 17, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, gave the below opening remarks at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s markup of H.R. 3.

Dr. Burgess’ Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have to say that I feel an overwhelming sense of disappointment and lost opportunity in this room. A lost opportunity to bring meaningful policy through this committee. A lost opportunity to work in a bipartisan manner. Most importantly, a lost opportunity to write a law that would make a real difference in the lives of the constituents in all of our districts. I don’t know about you, but I do not believe I was elected by my constituents to write bills that would go nowhere. We are here to write bills that can become law. Mr. Chairman, it is very clear that H.R. 3 will never become law.

This bill was drafted by the Speaker’s office and forced through this committee, sidelining every other achievable drug pricing policy in the works. There is bipartisan consensus that we should cap out-of-pocket costs for our seniors in Medicare Part D. This is a policy that we can and should draft together – in fact we had a bipartisan Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means request for information on the topic of restructuring Part D in May. I have a binder right here that is full of 83 comments from stakeholders that we received in response to that request that were informing bipartisan discussions and legislative drafting. The Senate Finance Committee has also put forth a policy to rework Part D. If we worked together in a thoughtful bipartisan, bicameral manner on restructuring Medicare Part D, the President would sign that legislation – he even said that drug pricing was a top priority, and our constituents would see lower out-of-pocket drug costs.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. If H.R. 3 was going to become law, the bill would have gone through regular order and there would have been time for a quality assessment of H.R. 3 – or at the very least, a real score from the Congressional Budget Office. The commitment from Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Eshoo to have a subcommittee markup would have been respected. The request for a full committee hearing by Ranking Member Walden and I would have been taken seriously. Instead, we skipped straight to a full committee markup and were cheated out of having a thoughtful dialogue and amendment process.

When my constituents ask me why Congress has failed to act on drug pricing this year, I will explain what could have been. We could have capped out of pocket costs in Part D. We could have improved drug price transparency. Instead, H.R. 3 threatens to rob American patients of much needed lifesaving treatments and cures by hampering innovation.

With that, I yield back.”

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Burgess Opening Statement at Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Hearing to Address the National Youth Tobacco Epidemic
Posted by on October 16, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, gave the below opening remarks at today’s hearing.

Dr. Burgess’ Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

“Thank you, Madame Chair and to our witnesses for being here today. There have been over 1,000 confirmed and probable cases of lung injury reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reaching almost every state and even a U.S. territory. Approximately 80 percent of these cases involve individuals under 35 years of age. Vaping and e-cigarettes acutely affect the youth population in the United States, which is why there has been such great national attention by the news media and by Congress.

The CDC continues to work closely with state and local authorities to gather and analyze information from across the country. We must continue investigating this very concerning outbreak among our nation’s youth.

Both the Trump Administration and Congress have taken steps to try to further understand and combat this lung injury outbreak. While action is needed, we must first understand the issue at hand so that we can devise the best solution. With an issue of public health at stake, it is critical that Congress work with agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC, to gather as much information as possible and act within appropriate authorities to protect the public.

When this investigation began, the CDC issued a warning that consumers should avoid using any and all vaping products, including nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and hybrid products. Since the investigation has progressed, the CDC has refined their warning to avoid using these products, particularly those containing THC.

Most affected patients reported a history of using THC-containing products, confirming the findings that THC has played a role in the outbreak. As more information becomes known and understood about e-cigarettes, we should ensure our legislative solutions tackle the underlying causes of this issue.

Throughout this conversation, we should also keep in mind that the nicotine in e-cigarettes is still addictive. However, e-cigarettes do provide an alternative to traditional cigarettes for adult smokers who are trying to quit.

Traditional cigarettes remain the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., claiming an estimated 480,000 lives or more each year. This is a personal issue for me, as I lost both of my parents to tobacco-related illness.

According to the CDC, an estimated 34 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes and more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.

While I am certainly concerned about the affect of e-cigarettes on our youth, we do need to remember that there is a large adult population with a whole host of health problems related to tobacco.

This legislative hearing is about Mr. Pallone’s bill, H.R. 2339. This bill includes some policies similar to President Trump’s Executive Order banning flavored e-cigarettes and to Senator McConnell’s Tobacco-Free Youth Act (S. 1541) that raises the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21-years-old.

While H.R. 2339 overlaps with some good policy coming from the Administration and the Senate, there are concerning provisions that could hinder this bill becoming law.

There is potential infringement on the First Amendment by requiring graphic health warnings on cigarette labels and advertising. There are other ways to educate individuals, particularly the youth population, of the harmful effects of smoking and reduce youth smoking rates without being detrimental to the freedom of speech. For example, Mr. McConnell’s Tobacco-Free Youth Act, which has bipartisan support and has been included in bipartisan HELP drug cost package (S. 1895), is a bill that directly addresses youth smoking by raising the age to purchase without problematic and overreaching provisions. 

A bill such as H.R. 2339 includes some policies that may be helpful in combating the youth tobacco rates in the U.S.; however, there are problematic provisions and a lack of a full understanding of the causes of this lung injury epidemic. Reducing youth tobacco rates is essential to a healthy America, and I am glad we are discussing this issue today.

Again, I would like to thank all our witnesses for being part of this important conversation today. I yield back.”

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