Senate Panel to Vote Next Week on FDA Commissioner

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will vote Wednesday on the nomination of Scott Gottlieb to serve as the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

If confirmed, Gottlieb, a former deputy commissioner at the FDA, would oversee an agency that President Donald Trump has vowed to reform.

During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Gottlieb called the opioid epidemic “the biggest crisis” facing the FDA. He was also pressed on his ties to the pharmaceutical industry, which ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said were “unprecedented.”

Gottlieb has said he would recuse himself for one year from any decisions involving health care companies he has worked with. The pharmaceutical industry praised his nomination, as have former FDA commissioners from both parties.

With Republicans in control of the Senate, Gottlieb likely would not need Democratic support to be approved to the post, if at least 50 Republicans vote to confirm him. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who represents Gottlieb’s home state and introduced him at his confirmation hearing, said at the time he had not decided whether he would vote to confirm the nomination.

The panel is also set to consider four public health bills at the markup.

Briefings

Health Brief: Sen. Schatz to Propose Medicaid ‘Public Option’

As Democrats engage in an intraparty debate on how to build on the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) is preparing to introduce a health care proposal that would give states the opportunity to offer a “buy-in” Medicaid option to all of their residents. The plan could serve as a more practical blueprint for Democrats than single-payer health care if the party is able to win congressional majorities in 2018 or 2020.

Health Brief: White House Says It Will Make August CSR Payments

The Trump administration said it would make key payments to insurers this month, despite threats from President Donald Trump to terminate them after Senate Republicans failed to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Governors and Democrats have been urging Trump to continue the payments because insurers have said they would hike premiums or exit the exchanges without them.

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