WASHINGTON, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee members have taken the bipartisan 21st Century Cures initiative around the country with roundtables in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and North Carolina. The ongoing conversations have been instrumental in building support for the important effort. This week, Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), along with Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN), will take the conversation to Virginia. Health leaders, innovators, and academics will join Griffith at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia, this Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
“I’m excited to bring the bipartisan 21st Century Cures initiative to Virginia,” said Griffith. “This effort has been largely successful due to the opinions and ideas we've gathered from across the country. It is important that Virginia’s leading health officials have a seat at the table to help accelerate the cures process and improve cures in America."
Participants will discuss many of the ideas the committee has heard over the past several months to accelerate the pace of cures in America, including improvements to drug and device approvals and clinical trials, as well as issues including telemedicine, mobile health apps, personalized medicine, medical research, funding, and more. Participants will include:
Dr. Bob MeyerUniversity of Virginia Health System
Dr. Karen RheubanUniversity of Virginia Health System
Dr. Maciek SasinowskiHealth Diagnostic Laboratory
Jeff GallagherVirginia BIO
Dr. Dixie Tooke-RawlinsEdward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine
Dr. Rob GourdieVirginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
Dr. Stephen MorganCarilion
Dr. Josep Bassaganya-RieraBioTherapeutics Inc.
Dr. John DavisDavis Medical
Learn more about the Virginia roundtable here.
Whitfield: “This new study confirms what we already know: EPA’s power plan is unaffordable and unworkable…”
A new study by NERA Economic Consulting released this week calculates the costs and consequences of the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide regulations for existing power plants, referred to by the agency as the “Clean Power Plan.” Among NERA’s findings:
NERA’s new analysis quantifying the potential impacts of EPA’s proposal on the affordability and reliability of electricity in the United States underscores concerns being raised by states and other stakeholders regarding the proposed rule. The Energy and Power Subcommittee has been conducting oversight of EPA’s plan, including a June 19, 2014, hearing with EPA, a July 29, 2014, hearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and a September 9, 2014, hearing with state energy and environmental regulators. These hearings have highlighted that the administration’s Clean Power Plan proposal is unachievable for many states, and that nationwide, the rule would result in higher prices for consumers, reduced electric reliability, and would pose a serious threat to America’s economic competiveness.
“This new study confirms what we already know: EPA’s power plan is unaffordable and unworkable, and will devastate local communities and households struggling to keep the lights on. American consumers will be forced to pay a high price tag for a plan that will have no real effect on the climate,” said Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY). “Instead of finding ways to make energy more expensive and less reliable, we should be working to improve energy affordability and access.”
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today released documents obtained in its investigation of the ongoing Ebola outbreak. The documents were submitted to the committee by Texas Health Resources. One outlines the preparedness timeline from August 1, 2014, through September 24, 2014, and the other document details the sequence of events at Thomas Duncan’s first visit to the Emergency Department on September 25, 2014.
PREPAREDNESS TIMELINE The preparedness timeline indicates that on August 1, 2014, one of the components of the response plan includes, “Electronic Health Record includes a travel history question that should be completed on every patient.” The preparedness timeline goes through September 24, 2014, just one day before Duncan first arrived at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital Emergency Department.
DUNCAN EMERGENCY ROOM TIMELINE The second document indicates that Duncan first arrived at the Emergency Department at 10:37 p.m. Triage began for Duncan at 11:36 p.m., at which point, “Obtaining the patient’s travel history was not part of the triage nurses’ process on September 25, 2014.” The timeline later showed that there was an RN assessment from 12:33 to 12:44 a.m. At that point, “The nurse documents that Mr. Duncan ‘came from Africa 9/20/2014’” and “RN states she recalls the discussion because of how long the plane flight was. (She had personal experience with very long plane flights). Attached no further significance to this travel history.”
The detailed timeline of events continues, “This information was not verbally communicated to the physician, as prompted by the EHR.” The Emergency Department physician performed his evaluation of Duncan from 12:52 to 1:10 a.m. The timeline recalls that the physician did access the EHR, but, “The record does not show which information the physician read, only which information was available.”
Watch the complete hearing online here.
WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today launched its #RecordOfSuccess webpage, highlighting its bipartisan accomplishments in the 113th Congress to create jobs and spur economic growth, modernize government for the innovation era, and protect families, communities, and civic initiatives. Under the leadership of Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), 84 committee bills have cleared the House of Representatives, with 32 bills becoming law, and 52 bills awaiting Senate action.
Chairman Upton commented, “I’m very proud of our proven record of success and appreciate the continued bipartisan efforts made by our committee members. In a time of partisan politics, the Energy and Commerce Committee has been able to rise above and get the job done, working together to make a difference in the lives of countless Americans. But our results should be even better with over four-dozen bills awaiting action in the Senate. I am proud that every single one of our bills received Democratic votes in the House, and over two-dozen bills now on the Senate’s doorstep cleared the House with a veto-proof margin. Our work continues, and we welcome the Senate to swiftly approve our bipartisan bills.”
An Accounting of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s #RecordOfSuccess for the 113th Congress Follows Below: (As of October 17, 2014)
Public Laws: Legislation Passed by the House and the Senate
(25 public laws containing 32 E&C bills)
H.R. 307, Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (Approved by the Senate on February 27, 2013; Approved by the House on March 4, 2013; Signed into law on March 13, 2013)
H.R. 267, Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on February 13, 2013; Approved by the Senate on August 1, 2013; Signed into law August 9, 2013)
H.R. 2576, To amend title 49, United States Code, to modify requirements relating to the availability of pipeline safety regulatory documents, and for other purposes (Approved by the House on July 16, 2013; Approved by the Senate on August 1, 2013; Signed into law on August 9, 2013)
S. 330 (H.R. 698), HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (Approved by the Senate on June 17, 2013; Approved by the House on November 12, 2013; Signed into law on November 12, 2013)
H.R. 2094, School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (Approved by the House on July 30, 2013; Approved by the Senate on October 31, 2013; Signed into law on November 13, 2013)
S. 252 (H.R. 541), PREEMIE Reauthorization Act (Approved by the Senate on September 25, 2013; Approved by the House on November 12, 2013; Signed into law on November 27, 2013) Includes:
H.R. 3204, Drug Quality and Security Act (Approved by the House on September 28, 2013; Approved by the Senate on November 18, 2013; Signed into law on November 27, 2013) H.R. 3204 combined the following two bills:
H.R. 3588, Community Fire Safety Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on December 2, 2013; Approved by the Senate on December 17, 2013; Signed into law on December 20, 2013)
H.J. Res. 59, Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on December 12, 2013; Approved by the Senate on December 18, 2013 Signed into law on December 26, 2013)
H.R. 623, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act (Approved by the House on October 29, 2013; Approved by the Senate on December 20, 2013; Signed into law on December 26, 2013)
H.R. 3527, Poison Center Network Act (Approved by the House on January 8, 2014; Approved by the Senate on January 14, 2014; Signed into law on January 24, 2014)
H.R. 4302, Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on March 27, 2014; Approved by the Senate on March 31, 2014; Signed into law on April 1, 2014) Includes:
H.R. 2019, Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act (Approved by the House on December 11, 2013; Approved by the Senate on March 11, 2014; Signed into law on April 3, 2014)
S. 1557 (H.R. 297), Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013 (Approved by the Senate on November 12, 2013; Approved by the House on April 1, 2014; Signed into law on April 7, 2014)
H.R. 724, To amend the Clean Air Act to remove the requirement for dealer certification of new light-duty motor vehicles (Approved by the House on January 8, 2014; Approved by the Senate on May 22, 2014; Signed into law on June 9, 2014)
S. 622 (H.R. 1407), Animal Drug User Fee Amendments of 2013 (Approved by the Senate on May 8, 2013; Approved by the House on June 3, 2014; Signed into law on June 13, 2014) Includes:
S. 2086, Reliable Home Heating Act (Approved by the Senate on May 21, 2014; Approved by the House on June 23, 2014; Signed into law on June 30, 2014)
H.R. 316, Collinsville Renewable Energy Production Act (Approved by the Senate on June 23, 2014; Approved by the House on June 23, 2014; Signed into law on June 30, 2014)
H.R. 803, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (Approved by the House on March 15, 2013; Approved Senate changes on July 9, 2014; Signed into law on July 22, 2014)
H.R 1528, Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on July 8, 2014; Approved by the Senate on July 16, 2014; Signed into law on August 1, 2014)
H.R. 4631, Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on June 24, 2014; Approved by the Senate on July 31, 2014; Signed into law on August 8, 2014)
H.R. 3548, Improving Trauma Care Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on June 24, 2014; Approved by the Senate on July 31, 2014; Signed into law on August 8, 2014)
S. 276, a bill to reinstate and extend the deadlines for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the American Falls Reservoir (Approved by the Senate on June 19, 2013; Approved by the House on September 11, 2014; Signed into law on September 26, 2014)
S. 2154 (H.R. 4290), Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act of 2014 OR Wakefield Act (Approved by Senate on September 10, 2014; Approved by House on September 16, 2014; Signed into law on September 26, 2014)
H.R. 594, Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance Research and Education Amendments of 2014 (Approved by the House on July 28, 2014, by voice vote; Signed into law on September 26, 2014)
Committee Legislation Passed by the House and Pending Senate Consideration or Resolution(52 E&C bills await Senate action)
H.R. 1580, To affirm the policy of the United States regarding Internet governance (Approved by the House on May 14, 2012, by a vote of 413-0)
H.R. 235, Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on February 12, 2013, by voice vote)
H.R. 45, To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Approved by the house on May 16, 2013, by a vote of 229-195)
H.R. 271, Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Conflicts Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on May 22, 2013, by voice vote)
H.R. 3, Northern Route Approval Act (Approved by the House on May 22, 2013, by a vote of 241-175)
H.R. 2218, Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on July 25, 2013, by a vote of 265-155)
H.R. 2754, To amend the Hobby Protection Act to make unlawful the provision of assistance or support in violation of that Act, and for other purposes (Approved by the House on July 30, 2013, by voice vote)
H.R. 1582, Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on August 1, 2013, by a vote of 232-81)
H.R. 2052, Global Investment in American Jobs Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on September 9, 2013, by a vote of 379-32)
H.R. 2844, Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on September 9, 2013, by a vote of 415-0)
H.R. 2775, No Subsidies Without Verification Act (Approved by the House on September 12, 2013, by a vote of 235-191)
H.R. 3350, Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on November 15, 2013, by a vote of 261-157)
H.R. 1900, Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (Approved by the House on November 21, 2013, by a vote of 252-165)
H.R. 2279, Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on January 9, 2014, by a vote of 225-188) Includes:
H.R. 3811, Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on January 10, 2014, by a vote of 291-122)
H.R. 3362, Exchange Information Disclosure Act (Approved by the House on January 16, 2014, by a vote of 259-154)
H.R. 7, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (Approved by the House on January 28, 2014, by a vote of 227-188)
H.R. 3590, Sportsmen's Heritage And Recreational Enhancement Act (Approved by the House on February 15, 2014, by a vote of 268-154)
H.R. 938, United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on March 5, 2014, by a vote of 410-1). The Energy and Commerce Committee reported H.R. 3683, which was incorporated into H.R. 938
H.R. 2126 (S. 1191), Better Buildings Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on March 5, 2014, by a vote of 375-36) Includes:
H.R. 3826, Electricity Security and Affordability Act (Approved by the House on March 6, 2014, by a vote of 229-183)
H.R. 3675, Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on March 11, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 4015, SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on March 14, 2014, by a vote of 238-181)
H.R. 4414, Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on April 29, 2014, by a vote of 268-150)
H.R. 4092, Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on June 23, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 4801, to require the Secretary of Energy to prepare a report on the impact of thermal insulation on both energy and water use for potable hot water (Approved by the House on June 23, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 3301, North American Energy Infrastructure Act (Approved by the House on June 24, 2014, by a vote of 238-173)
H.R. 1098, Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on June 24, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 1281, Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on June 24, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 4080, Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act (Approved by the House on June 24, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 6, Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act Approved by the House on June 25, 2014, by a vote of 266-150)
H.R. 4007, Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on July 8, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 4572, STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on July 22, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 4450, Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on July 23, 2014, by a vote of 347-57)
H.R. 3696, National Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on July 28, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 4250 (S. 2141), Sunscreen Innovation Act (Approved by the House on July 28, 2014, by voice vote; S. 2141 was approved by the Senate as amended on September 18, 2014, by unanimous consent)
H.R. 4709, Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act (Approved by the House on July 29, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 669, Sudden Unexpected Death and Data Enhancement and Awareness Act (Approved by the House on September 9, 2014 by voice vote)
H.R. 4067, a bill to help ensure patients, including Medicare patients and those in rural communities, have access to health care they need (Approved by the House on September 9, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 4701, Vector-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act (Approved by the House on September 9, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 3670, Anti-Spoofing Act of 2013 (Approved by the House on September 9, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 5057, EPS Service Parts Act of 2014 (Approved by the House on September 11, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 5161 (S. 2583), E-LABEL Act (Approved by the House on September 11, 2014, by a vote of 402-29; S. 2583 was passed by the Senate on September 18, 2014, by unanimous consent)
H.R. 3522, Employee Health Care Protection Act (Approved by the House on September 11, 2014, by a vote of 247-167)
H.R. 83, a bill to require the Secretary of the Interior to develop an action plan to address the energy needs of the insular areas of the United States and the Freely Associated States (Approved by the House on September 15, 2014, by voice vote; Approved by the Senate, as amended, by unanimous consent on September 18, 2014)
H.R. 4771, Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act (Approved by the House on September 15, 2014, by voice vote)
H.R. 2, American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act (Approved by the House on September 18, 2014, by a vote of 226-191) H.R. 2 included previously House-passed H.R. 3, H.R. 1900. H.R. 3301, H.R. 1582, H.R. 3826, H.R. 4801, and H.R. 6)
Visit energycommerce.house.gov/recordofsuccess to keep track of committee bills
Upton: “What has been missing from this administration’s response to Ebola is not a new figurehead; what we need is a strategy to get ahead of this, and restore the public’s faith that they are safe.”
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) issued the following statements regarding the president’s naming of Ron Klain as the Ebola Response Coordinator, commonly referred to as “Ebola czar.”
“The United States’ handling of the Ebola virus here at home has left Americans across the country petrified about the preparedness and response efforts. The public is desperate to believe that we will be safe from Ebola’s spread. I was glad the president got off the campaign trail to finally focus on Ebola, but with this appointment of a 'czar' with no health background, he just got right back on,” said Upton. “What has been missing from this administration’s response to Ebola is not a new figurehead; what we need is a strategy to get ahead of this, and restore the public’s faith that they are safe. Yesterday, we held an urgent hearing on our response efforts, hoping to gain a better understanding of what officials are doing to train health care workers in emergency rooms and hospitals and stop the spread of the virus here at home and in Africa. The administration needs to immediately institute travel restrictions to get this situation under control, properly train health care workers to identify and treat Ebola patients, and remain focused on stopping the spread of Ebola at its source in Africa.”
Murphy added, “This appointment is both shocking and frankly tone deaf to what the American people are concerned about. Installing yet another political appointee who has no medical background or infectious disease control experience will do little to reassure Americans who are increasingly losing confidence with the Administration’s Ebola strategy. Not one of the medical experts who testified at our hearing yesterday said what is needed to stop the spread of the Ebola virus is a czar, spokesman, or campaign operative with no relevant experience telling them what to do. We need leadership from the president and changes to the current policies to end the scourge of Ebola here and in Western Africa. Changes we can advance right now to protect the public health include travel restrictions, stronger quarantine measures, and expedited review and approval of therapies and vaccines for Ebola. Keeping an open-door travel policy that relies on an honor system is deeply troubling to Americans because, as we’ve seen with the known U.S. cases of Ebola infection, the screening, self-monitoring and self-reporting at airports have been demonstrated failures and put Americans at risk.”
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today responded to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s release of Volume 3 of the Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Repor (SER). The report is the most important, independent technical evaluation of whether the Department of Energy’s license application meets the long-term nuclear waste repository regulatory and safety requirements, including whether Yucca Mountain would remain safe for one million years, the federal threshold established to ensure the utmost safety of a permanent repository.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said, “The release of this game-changing report marks a critical milestone in restoring America’s nuclear leadership. Science, not politics, should determine Yucca’s course, and this report confirms that Yucca Mountain has met the safety requirements. After a four-year delay, the public now has the benefit of the first independent safety assessment of Yucca Mountain, and can now have confidence that the repository would be in fact ‘safe for a million years.’ This safety evaluation embodies the objective, technical conclusions of our nation’s independent nuclear safety regulator, and it represents the culmination of thirty years and $15 billion worth of scientific work by DOE and seven of our national scientific labs. I am pleased that this important work has finally come to light so we can move forward with a permanent repository and get our nation's nuclear future back on track.”
Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) said, “Yucca Mountain is one of the most studied geological formations on the planet and today’s report confirms what we’ve expected all along: nuclear waste stored under that mountain, in that desert, surrounded by federal land will be safe and secure for at least a million years. I want to commend the NRC technical staff for all their hard work in completing and publishing this milestone achievement. Their work to complete this national asset is a testament to their commitment to public service, one that I admire and greatly appreciate. The conclusions in this report should only add to the bipartisan support the repository has consistently received in both the House and Senate.”
The report was initially scheduled for release in November 2010, but NRC staff was ordered to close down its review prior to completion and release of the report. In August 2013, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the NRC must resume its review of the DOE’s license application. Upton and Shimkus wrote to NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane urging the commission to complete and release all the remaining volumes of the Safety Evaluation Report as its first order of businesses and have closely monitored the commission’s progress.
For more information about the committee’s oversight of the Yucca Mountain project, visit: http://energycommerce.house.gov/yuccamountain.
CDC, NIH, and Texas Health Resources to Testify THURSDAY
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) released the following statements regarding the ongoing Ebola outbreak. The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing, Examining the U.S. Public Health Response to the Ebola Outbreak, this Thursday, October 16, at 12:00 p.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
“Ebola has been on the world's radar screen since March and yet the United States and the international community are still scrambling to stay ahead of and stop this outbreak. We remain gravely concerned about this ongoing threat and the committee will continue diligently investigating the response efforts and preparedness plans,” said Upton. “The stakes could not be any higher, and as I have said before, we cannot afford to look back at this point in history and say we could have done more.”
Murphy added, “Questions continue to emerge as this outbreak has continued, further heightening our concerns about the response and preparedness efforts both at home and abroad. Just a few weeks ago there was an urgent need to quickly stop the spread of Ebola in Africa, but now we also need to assure Americans that we are able to stop the spread here at home. There is no room for error when it comes to Ebola.”
A complete witness list for Thursday’s hearing is below.
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Anthony Fauci Director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases National Institutes of Health
Dr. Luciana Borio Assistant Commissioner Counterterrorism Policy U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Dr. Robin Robinson Director Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mr. John P. Wagner Acting Assistant Commissioner Office of Field Operations, Customs and Border Protection U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Dr. Daniel Varga Chief Clinical Officer and Senior Vice President Texas Health Resources
More background for Thursday’s hearing is available online here. The committee first sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell seeking more information regarding the ongoing Ebola outbreak and preparedness and response efforts at home and abroad on September 12, 2014.
MichBio and Biotechnology CEOs: “We applaud Chairman Upton for undertaking this initiative because it is imperative that we find new solutions.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – It was another successful week for the Energy Commerce Committee’s 21st Century Cures initiative, as the effort made stops in Michigan and North Carolina. Distinguished guests and thought leaders in the public health sector discussed ways to accelerate the pace of cures in America with Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), and Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD (R-TX). Since the committee first launched the 21st Century Cures effort earlier this year, support for the cause has grown rapidly. Stephen Rapundalo, president and CEO of MichBio, and James C. Greenwood, president and CEO of Biotechnology Industry Organization, praised the effort this week in the Kalamazoo Gazette, writing, “We applaud Chairman Upton for undertaking this initiative because it is imperative that we find new solutions. ... A forward-thinking innovation ecosystem will ensure that patients continue to receive the benefits of new therapies and new cures as we move further into the 21st Century.”
To learn more about the Cures effort, click here.
October 8, 2014
Viewpoint: Discussion, investment crucial in finding cures in Michigan
By Stephen Rapundalo, President and CEO of MichBio & James C. Greenwood, President and CEO of Biotechnology Industry Organization
How can we accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of new medical treatments and cures for patients? That's the question asked by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI 6th) at a roundtable discussion Tuesday in Kalamazoo. The roundtable is one of many being held across the country as part of the 21st Century Cures Initiative. The U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee launched the initiative – led by Chairman Upton and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) – to engage in a national discussion devoted to identifying big ideas and proposals for accelerating the next generation of cures and treatments.
We applaud Chairman Upton for undertaking this initiative because it is imperative that we find new solutions. This can be accomplished only if we continue to invest in scientific research, encourage the development and adoption of more efficient approaches to drug development, support collaborations and partnerships in the research and development endeavor, empower regulatory agencies to keep pace with science, promote the effective transfer of new technology, establish and defend policies that protect intellectual property, and promote reimbursement policies that ensure continued innovation and access to medicines for patients. A forward-thinking innovation ecosystem will ensure that patients continue to receive the benefits of new therapies and new cures as we move further into the 21st Century.
Michigan's robust bioscience industry, which employs nearly 42,000 men and women across 1,700 businesses in the state, will also be an important part of the solution, as will academic research and support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Michigan's research universities conducted more than $1.2 billion in bioscience-related R&D in 2012, and Michigan institutions received over $575 million in research funding from the NIH for fiscal year 2013. …
We want to thank Chairman Upton for his leadership in spearheading the 21st Century Cures Initiative and for bringing together stakeholders representing Michigan's life sciences industry, academic, and government sectors to find ways in which we can all advance our shared goal of discovering, developing, and delivering new therapies for the patients who are relying on them.
Read the column online HERE.
This week the Energy Information Administration released its winter fuels outlook predicting that U.S. consumers will pay slightly less for energy costs this winter due to expected warmer temperatures. Although headlines were quick to herald this news of lower home heating bills, the finer print reveals little to celebrate. EIA admits its fuel forecasts are based on uncertain weather predictions, and if this winter turns out to be colder than expected, consumers could see higher energy bills. Infrastructure and supply constraints caused heating prices to spike last winter, and these problems are only getting worse as a result of the administration’s new electricity sector regulations.
Areas of the country facing extreme infrastructure constraints like the Northeast could be hit particularly hard again this winter. According to EIA, “Wholesale electricity prices in the Northeast region spiked last winter because of a winter freeze and constraints on supplying natural gas to power generators. As a result, retail electricity customers in that area have experienced increases averaging up to 12% so far this year. The natural gas pipeline constraints in New England still exist and deliveries into the region are near capacity. If colder-than-expected temperatures occur this winter, there is the possibility that wholesale electricity prices could rise again.”
Despite musings of a more “mild” winter, consumers in the Northeast are bracing for cold temperatures and higher energy bills, and many are worried about how they will be able to afford cost increases. After hearing news that electricity rates in her Massachusetts town were going up this winter, one community volunteer asked, “What about the seniors?... Most people are on a fixed income and out of the blue we’re supposed to get this extra money? It’s terrible.”
The Enterprise in Brockton, Massachusetts reports that local officials are struggling to find ways to bring affordable energy into their communities. Bridgewater Town Manager Michael Dutton stated, “The bigger public question might more appropriately be why is it so difficult to expand pipeline capacity, and why have we suddenly reached this point?”
The answer lies in new federal regulations and existing red tape. The Obama administration’s suite of new power sector rules is forcing coal-fired power plants to retire prematurely and many utilities are switching to natural gas. But the nation’s pipeline capacity has not kept pace with this conversion, and the current regulatory process continues to delay the construction of this critical infrastructure.
Gambling on forecasts or wishing for a mild winter is not a sound energy strategy. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has a better energy strategy, and it’s called the Architecture of Abundance. This plan aims to ensure access to affordable and reliable electricity by maintaining a strong and diverse energy portfolio and making it easier to build the infrastructure we need to transport energy to those who need it most. To learn more about this plan for affordable energy, visit: http://energycommerce.house.gov/yes2energy.
A little over 10 months ago, Chairman Fred Upton and I launched a process within the Energy and Commerce Committee to review our nation’s communications laws from top to bottom. Informed by robust public input, we continue to welcome and solicit feedback as we explore ways to update the law to better fit 21st century needs.
We are nearly two decades removed from the last update, which is light-years in the tech world. While we have surely enjoyed remarkable innovation that has transformed our daily lives, it is imperative that our laws foster continued breakthroughs and economic growth rather than hamper next generation technologies.
To help drive our #CommActUpdate conversation, we’ve issued a series of white papers, looking at everything from spectrum policy and the Universal Service Fund to broad questions of competition policy and network interconnection. While there are more issues that will be addressed with our white paper series, there are additional platforms and resources available to keep our progress and dialogue moving forward to get the feedback we need to produce good policy.
Although Congress may not be in session this month, our work continues full speed ahead. As part of our ongoing outreach, committee staff recently commenced bipartisan listening sessions with segments of the communications and technology industry and other stakeholder groups.
These meetings provide our bipartisan staffs an opportunity to dive deeper on specific topics and better understand the issues facing the modern communications marketplace. We are interested in pursuing pro-innovation policies that reflect our evolving economy. It is important to have a firm grip on how our laws impact consumers, job creators, and the market as a whole, and hear directly what ideas are worth pursuing as well as identifying potential landmines to avoid. Listening sessions provide an opportunity to round out the information we’ve already received from our previous hearings and the white paper series. We look forward to moving forward in a bipartisan and productive manner.
We will continue gathering information via listening sessions, white papers, staff and member outreach, and direct contact with our constituents. October, and the remaining months of the year provide an important window to prepare as we gear up to legislate next Congress.
Updating the Communications Act of 1934 will require strong vision and collaboration to produce new policies that better meet the needs of today’s innovation era, but are also capable of fulfilling the exciting opportunities of the future. Our work continues.
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