Highlights from the Hill February 19, 2015
Legislation Would End Scheduling Delays at DEA
Congress recently reintroduced bipartisan legislation, Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act (H.R. 639 & S. 481), which would bring transparency and speed up the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) scheduling process once a new therapy has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These bills would allow safe and innovative treatments to reach patients in a more timely and predictable manner, while preserving DEA’s role within the scheduling process. H.R. 639 has already been marked up by the House Energy and Commerce committee and is headed for the House floor. Urge your members of Congress to support these bills at http://bit.ly/EFDEA2015. Learn more about improving access to new therapies at www.epilepsy.com/DEA.
Epilepsy Foundation Supports EEOC Lawsuit
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed a lawsuit against a few large employers with onerous employee wellness programs that EEOC deemed were in violation of the ADA. The Epilepsy Foundation supports workplace wellness programs that improve employee health and lower medical costs, and which are designed and implemented in such a way that they do not penalize employees or otherwise violate their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and comply with requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act HIPAA. The ADA protects employees with disabilities from being forced to disclose medical information unrelated to their ability to do their jobs. The EEOC’s enforcement actions to safeguard this right, in cases where steep financial penalties were used to force such disclosures, are important to the patient and disability communities and are consistent with the law.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee recently held a hearing on employee wellness programs, partly in response to a lawsuit filed by the EEOC, and the White House has expressed some concern with the EEOC lawsuit.
The Epilepsy Foundation joined patient advocacy and disability rights organizations in a letters to the EEOC in support of the lawsuit, and to the White House in support of the EEOC. The Foundation also submitted a letter to the Senate HELP Committee expressing our concern with employee wellness programs that violate the nondiscrimination provisions in the ADA. You can view the letters at http://bit.ly/EFNondiscrimination.
President’s Budget Request Signals Support for Research and Programs at HHS
On February 2nd the President released his budget request for Fiscal Year 2016, which marks the start of the federal budget and appropriations process. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has release their “Budget in Brief” outlining how the President’s budget request would support major initiatives at HHS. According to the “Budget in Brief” the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and several institutes including the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would receive significant increases in funding, signaling investments on the work these two agencies carry out is important to the Administration. To read the “Budget in Brief” go to http://bit.ly/EFBIB16.