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House, Senate Committees Pass Several Health-Related Measures

House Energy and Commerce Committee

This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved bills to improve newborn health screening practices and training for cancer detection clinicians. Also this week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved a bill that would require the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products.

Newborn Screening and Cancer Detection

On March 13, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved, by voice vote, the Cytology Proficiency Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 1237) and the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act (H.R. 3825). On March 11, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved H.R. 1237 and H.R. 3825, by voice vote. The Senate approved an identical version of the newborn screening bill (S. 1858) on December 13 (see The Source, 12/14/07).

The Cytology Proficiency Improvement Act of 2007 would require clinical laboratories to ensure that health professionals involved in the screening of cytological preparations, such as Pap smears, participate annually in a continuing medical education program in gynecological cytology that has been approved by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Medical Education or the American Academy of Continuing Medical Education.

Tobacco Regulation

On March 11, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved, 18-9, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (H.R. 1108). The subcommittee held a hearing on H.R. 1108 on October 3 (see The Source, 10/5/07); the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved a similar measure (S. 625) on August 1 (see The Source, 8/3/07).

During debate on H.R. 1108, the subcommittee defeated several amendments:

  • an amendment by Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) that would have delayed the bill’s implementation for two years, 12-14;
  • an amendment by Rep. Mike Rodgers (R-MI) that would have delayed the bill’s implementation for three years, 11-15; and
  • five en bloc amendments by Reps. Buyer and Rogers that would have delayed the bill’s implementation for a period of between three and 10 years, 13-16.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

On March 13, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved, by voice vote, bills to reauthorize the Healthy Start Program (S. 1760) and the Stroke Treatment and Ongoing Prevention Act (S. 999).

Healthy Start Reauthorization

Sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), S. 1760 would authorize $120 million for FY2008 for the Healthy Start Initiative. For FY2009-2013, the amount authorized would be increased “by the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers for such year.”

The Healthy Start Initiative provides grants to public and private organizations that aim to lower infant mortality and the number of low birth weight babies, and to reduce the number of preterm births. The reauthorization would require the secretary of Health and Human Services to take into account grant applicants’ commitment to “a community-based approach to the delivery of services” and “approach to women’s health care to improve perinatal outcomes” when awarding funds.

Stroke Treatment and Ongoing Prevention Act

Sponsored by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), S. 999 would authorize “such sums as may be necessary” for FY2008-2012 for the secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a grant program for states to develop stroke care systems. Grants would be awarded to states that provide “high-quality prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation” services to stroke victims. Funds also would be used to develop model curriculum for health care providers and for public awareness campaigns on the warning signs of stroke. The House approved similar legislation on March 27, 2007 (see The Source, 3/30/07).

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