Cybersecurity, FDA User Fees and HHS FY18 Budget Take Center Stage in Congress

First item on the health IT agenda  was on Wednesday when the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a full committee markup on a variety of health and energy bills, including H.R. 2430, the FDA Reauthorization Act (FDARA) of 2017. The full committee voted unanimously (54-0) to advance the bill, which would reauthorize the FDA’s four user fee agreements, including the medical device user fee amendments (MDUFA), which are set to expire on September 30th.

The House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee tackled healthcare cybersecurity on Thursday by holding a hearing  with three HHS witnesses on “Examining the Role of the Department of Health and Human Services in Health Care Cybersecurity.” The hearing follows the recent release of the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force Report. The report and the formation of the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force are the direct result of Section 405 of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, which reflected recommendations from HIMSS’ 2015 Cybersecurity Congressional Ask.

Also on Thursday, the Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means Committees held hearings on the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. The focus of these hearings, both featuring HHS Secretary Tom Price, was to examine HHS’ FY2018 budget request. Specific to health IT, the Administration’s budget includes significant cuts to discretionary health spending on research and public health including to the ONC, NIH, and CDC.  The budget also proposes to eliminate AHRQ by folding it into the NIH and zeroing out a number of associated research and grant line items.