This Week in Congress

The House is in session Tuesday through Friday for a busy week. The bill of most interest to Campaign for Liberty is H.R. 987, which combines legislation designed to prop-up ObamaCare with other legislation designed to lower prescription drug prices.  The bill consists of:

  1. The CREATES Act— This is a good bill that helps put an end to Big Pharma’s ability to manipulate the patent system to keep pharmaceutical prices artificially high. For more on this bill see here and here.

  1. Protecting Consumers Access to Generic Drugs Act—This legislation prohibits drug companies from paying generic manufacturers to delay putting their products on the market, thus allowing the companies to maintain a monopoly position over the name brand products for a longer period of time. The bill points to a legitimate problem, but the real solution is not more government regulations. Rather, they should reform the patent system and allow more competition.

  1. The Blocking Act- This would increase competition in the generic drug market by removing the provision  allowing generic drug manufacturers to “park” their applications to market their products with the FDA, thus extending the time they are granted the exclusive right to market the drug.

  1. No short-term insurance plans—Repeals President Trump’s executive order expanding the time period that individuals can buy “short-term” insurance plans. These pans do not cover all of ObamaCare’s mandates, so they are more affordable and allow people to obtain insurance they couldn’t otherwise afford. But ObamaCare supporters would rather have people go without insurance.

  1. The Enroll Act—Revives ObamaCare’s controversial “navigator” program. Forbids states from considering whether a company lists short-term insurance plans or an association health care plan (these are combinations of small businesses and other groups that make insurance more affordable to those who otherwise would do without) when making grants for “navigators” in ObamaCare exchanges, requires states to give navigator grants to at least one “community and consumer focused group.”

  1. The SAVE Act—Provides $200 million in “grants” (bribes) to states wishing to set up their own ObamaCare exchanges.

  1. The More Health Education Act—Requires the Department of Health and Human Services to perform outreach to make people aware of the insurance plans being offered by the ObamaCare exchanges.

There is a contradiction in the package in that the parts of the bills dealing with prescription drugs recognize the importance of competition and repealing (or at least “reforming”) regulations that inhibit a competitive marketplace, in the marketplace, while the parts dealing with ObamaCare embrace the notion that the only form of acceptable health insurance is one dictated by the government.

The House will also consider H.R. 312, legislation reaffirming the tribal status of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts and the federal government’s holding of the tribal land in trust. This bill was withdrawn from the suspension calendar and is opposed by some over concerns it gives the tribe a privilege not available to other tribes.

The House will also consider some bills under suspension, including:

  1. H.R. 299—Creates a presumption that certain diseases contracted by veterans who served “offshore” in Vietnam are service-connected.

  2. H.R. 2379—Reauthorizes the bulletproof vest grant program at $30 million a year.

  3. H.R. 1999—Extends the Federal Government’s trademark over the American flag and other  insignias of the United States.

  4. H.R. 1594—Prohibits federal grants to local first responders to purchase equipment that does not meet or exceed national voluntary consensus standards.

  5. H.R. 1313—Allows localities to use public transportation security grants to fill backlogs in hiring security personnel, also provides for a GAO study of the grant program.

  6. H.R. 1437—Requires the Department of Homeland Security to issue directives to employees regarding the proper storage of firearms and other “sensitive” materials.  (The department was created in 2004; shouldn’t this already be law?)

  7. H.R. 2578—Extends the National Flood Insurance Program through September 30. For more on this program see here.

  8. H.R. 389—Creates a “Kleptocracy” asset recovery rewards program. The program gives cash to anyone who gives information that leads to recovery of assets stolen as part of foreign government corruption.

  9. H.R. 1060—Provides exemption from certain federal mortgage regulations for charitable organizations that build homes for the poor.

  10. H.R. 1037—Requires the Treasury Department to report on financial services provided to state sponsors of terrorism or individuals sanctioned for participating in violation of human rights.

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