The House and Senate will both be in town this week in honor of the inauguration of President Obama. There will be some work done this week, but it will be mostly organizational. Three House committees of interest to readers of this blog will hold their organizational meetings. Since two of the three have new chairmen, this could be interesting (probably not though). Those three committees are:
Health System Preparedness
According to the House Majority Leader’s web site there are only two bills on the agenda for this week to be considered on the floor. One of those will be of peripheral interest to readers of this blog, HR 307, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013. An official copy of this bill is not yet available through the GPO, but the House Rules Committee web site does have a link to the draft submitted by Rep. Rogers (R, MI) who authored the bill.
This bill was virtually identical to HR 6672 that was passed in the House last month. I discussed the chemical preparedness provisions of that bill then and they still apply to the current bill, so I won’t belabor the point other than it would have been nice to see a requirement for chemical facilities containing reportable quantities of toxic inhalation hazard chemicals to report those chemicals to local treatment facilities that would respond to a mass casualty event due to a release at the covered facility. That would be the only way those medical facilities would have a chance to be prepared to effectively treat those casualties.
The only significant change in the current version of the bill (other than the ‘2013’ in the title) is found in § 402. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Section 402(e) was changed to add §402(e)(2):
“EFFECTIVE DATE.—This subsection shall take effect as if enacted on December 17 [should probably read 19], 2012.”
This was necessary because the limited anti-trust exemption provided in §405(b) of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (42 U.S.C. 247d-6a) expired on December 19th 2012. Without this new provision, any covered actions taken between that date and the date the bill is signed (if passed; not a completely forgone conclusion) would not be protected by that exemption.
I really do expect that this bill will pass in both Houses this week with the same bipartisan support seen last month in the House.