Washington summary November 2016

Congress returned to Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14.  After another break for Thanksgiving, Congress will resume work at the end of November.

FY17 Appropriations

The continuing resolution (CR) that keeps the government working expires on Dec. 9.  Congress is expected to continue spending at the current level through March 31, 2017.  Unless Congress makes an exception, NIH will operate on a $32 billion budget, rather than the $34 billion proposed by the Senate.

PKD Foundation joined 209 other health research stakeholders in signing a letter asking the Senate to hold firmly on its proposal to provide $34 billion for NIH.

21st Century Cures

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that the Senate will consider its health innovation package, the Senate version of 21st Century Cures this year.  The Cures bill is one of the few bills that this Congress likely will pass.  Consequently, many interest groups are trying to attach their specific proposals to the Cures bill.  The more controversial the proposal, the more difficult it will be to enact a health innovation bill in 2016.

The PKD Foundation remains a strong supporter of increased health innovation that could accelerate treatments and a cure for PKD. We recently joined 216 organizations in asking Congress to approve this bill in 2016. We know that, if pressed by their constituents, Congress can do its job and find the money.

Immunosuppressive Drug Bill

On Sept. 22, 2016, Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced HR 6139, the Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act. This bill would allow individuals who are eligible for immunosuppressive drugs under Medicare Part B to continue to receive their vital treatment past the current 36-month cutoff. Without these drugs, transplant recipients are too often at risk to lose their transplanted kidneys.

PKD Foundation has endorsed this bill in a letter to the bill’s two sponsors.

At this time, there is no Senate version of HR 6139.  In the previous Congress, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 18 Senators supported a similar bill (S. 323).

As of Nov. 17, the bill is supported by the following additional House Members:

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)
Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA)
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS)
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA)
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT)
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)
Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
Rep. David Price (D-NC)
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL)
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT)
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)

If your Representative already is supporting H.R. 6139, thank him or her. If your Representative is not listed above, encourage him or her to cosponsor the bill this year and to support it in the future.

2017 and the 115th Congress

A few changes will occur in the key committees that deal with PKD issues: House Energy and Commerce; Senate HELP; and the two Appropriations Committees. The changes will not become official until early next year, after the new Congress is sworn in.  As we learn more about new committee assignments, we will let you know so that you can begin to educate those elected officials.

Continue to Make Your Voice Heard

The period between now and Dec. 2 is critical for many PKD issues.  Senators and Representatives still need to hear from you—their constituents. Don’t waste this crucial time!