Health

One Thing Congress Agrees On: Vaccines Work
They said lawmakers should support the use of vaccines

From left, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., at a HELP hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers are stressing the need to highlight benefits of vaccines amid reports of local outbreaks of infectious diseases.

“The science is clear: FDA-licensed vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, and save the lives both of those who receive them and vulnerable individuals around them,” the lawmakers wrote in a Tuesday letter sent to their colleagues. “As Members of Congress, we have a critical role to play in supporting the availability and use of vaccines to protect Americans from deadly diseases.”

A Fresh Start for Health Care Reform

BY PATRICK HOPE, MARK LEAHEY AND SCOTT WHITAKER

The New Year is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings — to set goals and commit to meeting them. In Washington, it is a time for renewed focus on the issues that affect millions of Americans. It’s clear that health care reform is a top priority for the new Administration and Congressional leaders, and it is our hope that policymakers on both sides of the aisle will come together to support health care policies that allow patients worldwide to live longer, healthier and more productive lives — starting with an immediate and permanent repeal of the burdensome medical device tax.

White House Watch: Uncertainty Surrounds Obamacare Repeal

Pence: Repeal and Replace Obamacare ‘First Order of Business’

Vice President-elect Mike Pence joined Speaker Paul D. Ryan for a GOP leadership news briefing Wednesday, telling reporters that working with Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will be the incoming administration’s “first order of business.” See the video for highlights from Pence and Ryan’s remarks.

Ep. 27: Obamacare Premium Hikes a Headache for Policymakers
The Week Ahead
‘Cures’ Package Not Unanimously Backed by Democrats, Pelosi Says
NIH funding aimed at bringing some lawmakers on board

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., signaled disagreements exist among Democrats over the 21st Century Cures biomedical research package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters Wednesday that she stands ready to help pass the 21st Century Cures bill in the lame-duck session but “that’s not a universal view” among House Democrats.

“Some people don’t have the same support for it, so we’re just going to have to build consensus,” the California Democrat said.

Lawmakers See Synthetics as Growing Drug Abuse Challenge
But actions raise concerns among drugmakers over legislative overreach

The musician Prince — seen here performing in Toronto in 2015 — died in April from what Minnesota officials said was an accidental overdose of self-administered fentanyl. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for NPG Records 2015 File Photo)

Lawmakers are trying to draw attention to a rapidly emerging overdose crisis caused by synthetic drugs, less than two months after a bill to combat prescription opioid and heroin abuse was signed into law.

The opioid measure included provisions that make it easier for the government to prosecute drug traffickers, but synthetic drugs pose a different kind of challenge that wasn’t addressed in the legislation. While most drugs are on a list of controlled substances, synthetics can escape law enforcement scrutiny if the chemists who make them tweak their formulas slightly.

Ep. 20: Funding Fight Doesn't Squelch Zika Research
The Big Story

Though Congress and the Obama administration are still fighting over how to respond to the Zika virus outbreak, the gridlock hasn’t kept government scientists from trying to develop an effective vaccine. CQ Roll Call’s managing editor Adriel Bettelheim talks to senior Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski to learn more. 

Show Notes: