House Panel Advances Six Public Health Bills

The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a half-dozen public health-related bills Wednesday.

The six bills were approved unanimously by the committee on voice votes, and covered a range of topics from mental health first aid to classifying some synthetic drugs. In the Senate, similar bills are working their way through the committee process.

“Collectively, these bipartisan bills will improve the health of Americans across a large spectrum of issues,” Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a statement. “From better coordinating federal efforts regarding autoimmune and metabolic syndromes, to updating the list of dangerous synthetic drug compounds to get them off our streets, these bills will all make a difference for folks in Southwest Michigan and across the country.”

One bill, H.R. 4365, would amend the Controlled Substances Act to permit emergency responders to continue administering controlled substances to patients when instructed to do so by their agency’s medical director. Another bill seeks to classify several synthetic compounds as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.

Another bill would require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to awards mental health awareness training grants to people who may work with patients with mental health disorders, such as first responders, law enforcement, or teachers. The committee also approved legislation that would authorize grants for nursing students in specific areas of nursing education.

One of the final two bills would increase the data the Department of Health and Human Services would collect to place more maternal health care providers in parts of the country lacking providers through the National Health Service Corps. The other would establish a National Clinical Care Commission to recommend solutions for improving coordinated care and using federal programs to support care for people with metabolic syndromes and related autoimmune disorders.

The six bills now await action on the House floor.