This week at CBPP, we focused on health care, the federal budget and taxes, housing, food assistance, and the economy.
A sprawling health bill expected to pass the Senate and become law before the end of the year is a grab bag for industries that spent plenty of money lobbying to make sure it happened that way.
Here are some of the winners and losers in the 21st Century Cures Act:
Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Companies. The bill will likely save drug and device companies billions of dollars bringing products to market by giving the Food and Drug Administration new authority and tools to demand fewer studies from those companies and speed up approvals.
The changes represent a massive lobbying effort by 58 pharmaceutical companies, 24 device companies and 26 “biotech products and research” companies, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of lobbying data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The groups reported more than $192 million in lobbying expenses on the Cures Act and other legislative priorities, the analysis shows.This KHN story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free (details).
Medical schools, hospitals and physicians. The bill provides $4.8 billion over 10 years in additional funding to National Institutes of Health, the federal government’s main biomedical research organization. (The funds are not guaranteed, however, and will be subject to annual appropriations.)
The money could help researchers at universities and medical centers get hundreds of millions more dollars in research grants, most of it toward research on cancer, neurobiology and genetic medicine.
The bill attracted lobbying activity from more than 60 schools, 36 hospitals and several dozen groups representing physician organizations. They reported spending more than $120 million in disclosures that included Cures Act lobbying.
Mental health and substance abuse advocates. The bill provides $1 billion in state grants over two years to address opioid abuse and addiction. While most of that money goes to treatment facilities, some will fund research.
The bill also boosts funding for mental health research and treatment, with hundreds of millions of dollars authorized for dozens of existing and new programs.
Mental health, psychology and psychiatry groups spent $1.8 million on lobbying disclosures that included the Cures bill as an issue.
Patient groups. Specialty disease and patient advocacy groups supported the legislation and lobbied vigorously. Many of these groups get a portion of their funding from drug and device companies. The bill includes more patient input in the drug development and approval process, and the bill is a boost to the clout of such groups.
More than two dozen patient groups lobbied the bill, and reported spending $6.4 million in disclosures that named the bill as one of their issues.
Health information technology and software companies. The bill pushes federal agencies and health providers nationwide to use electronic health records systems and to collect data to enhance research and treatment. Although it doesn’t specifically fund the effort, IT and data management companies could gain millions of dollars in new business.
More than a dozen computer, software and telecom companies reported Cures Act lobbying. The groups’ total lobbying spending was $35 million on Cures as well as other legislation.
Preventive medicine. The bill cuts $3.5 billion — about 30 percent — from the Prevention and Public Health Fund established under Obamacare to promote prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, hospital acquired infections, chronic illnesses and other ailments.
Consumer and patient safety groups. Groups like Public Citizen and the National Center for Health Research either fought the law outright or sought substantial changes. Although they won on some points, these groups still say Cures opens the door for unsafe drug and device approvals and doesn’t address rising drug costs.
Hair growth patients. The bill says federal Medicaid will no longer help pay for drugs that help patients restore hair. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation spent $40,000 on lobbying disclosures this cycle that included Cures.
The FDA. The bill gives the FDA an additional $500 million through 2026 and more hiring power, but critics say it isn’t enough to cover the additional workload under the bill. The agency also got something it opposed: renewal of a controversial voucher program that awards companies that approve drugs for rare pediatric diseases.
KHN’s coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported in part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
Saturday, December 3, marks the fifty-fourth anniversary of the day that Edith Spurlock Sampson was sworn in as the first African-American female judge. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1901, she graduated from high school and the New York University School of Social Work. One of her professors at the NYU School of Social Work, Columbia University Law School professor George W. Kirchwey, urged her to go to law school when he saw her aptitude for the law. When she moved to Chicago, she started night school at the John Marshall Law School and then enrolled in Chicago’s Loyola University Law School. She was the first woman to receive a Master of Law degree from Loyola University when she graduated in 1927 at the top of her class—one of many firsts in her life.Sampson went to work for Cook County, Illinois upon graduation and stayed there for eighteen years, first as a probation officer and then as an assistant referee in juvenile court. After she started her own practice in 1934, she was one of the first women admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. She organized other African American female lawyers into the Portia Club to offer free legal services to poor African American women and children. Throughout her career, she was active in professional, social and civil rights organizations, including the League of Women Voters and the NAACP. Later she was appointed as prosecutor for Cook County. In 1950, she became the first African American named to the permanent United States Mission to the United Nations. When she was 61, she was elected as judge of the Chicago Municipal Court. With that election, she became the first black woman in the United States elevated to the bench by popular vote. She served mainly in the south side of Chicago, hearing juvenile and domestic cases, and had a reputation as a caring and considerate judge. She worked for the court until her retirement in 1978 and died a year later.
Her achievements made her a pioneer for African Americans and women everywhere. Her drive to pursue her talents in spite of many obstacles and her caring service to African Americans, the poor and disadvantaged, women, her community, and her nation are inspiring. She is as relevant and progressive today as she was in her own time.
President-elect Trump’s infrastructure plan, which claims that it would deliver up to $1 trillion in new infrastructure investment, almost surely would deliver far less — and it would not deliver many of the most important needed projects for roads and bridges, public transit, schools and public housing, water facilities, and so on, nor deliver them in the struggling communities in which they’re most needed.Trump's plan would mainly be a tax-cut windfall to private developers to bankroll for-profit projects they likely would have underta