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Healthcare Bills in Congress Sept 2021

Everyone knows that healthcare is far from perfect; and for better or worse, many lawmakers are striving to create change. In this article, you’ll get a summary and status of six bills in various stages of the lawmaking process.

1. Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act

Summary

The tragic suicide of ER physician Dr. Lorna Breen in April 2020 illuminated a horrible truth: In the United States, 400 physicians die each year by suicide. And many physicians fear their careers will be ruined if they seek mental health care. 

The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act seeks to prevent burnout and enable health care providers with tools such as grants and activities/training to improve mental and behavioral health.

Latest Action

The bill was unanimously passed in the U.S. Senate on August 6, 2021.

Next Steps

The House of Representatives still needs to vote on this bill before further action can be taken.

2. Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act

Summary

This bill calls for the Department of Labor to address workplace violence in health care, social service and other sectors that conduct activities similar to the aforementioned.

With this new bill, Labor must issue an interim occupational safety and health standard, requiring certain employers to actively protect workers from workplace violence.

Latest Action

This bill was passed by the House of Representatives in April 2021.

Next Steps

The Senate will vote on this bill.

3. Protecting Seniors from Health Care Fraud Act of 2021

Summary

Under this proposed law, the Office of the Inspector General (of the Department of Health and Human Services) and the Attorney General would report annually to Congress and the public on senior-targeted health care fraud.

The report would include elements such as the following:

  • the 10 most prevalent, senior-targeted health care fraud schemes
  • steps taken to combat such schemes
  • and policy suggestions to improve protection for seniors.

*Reports may omit information that would compromise ongoing investigations or would serve criminals rather than seniors.

*Reports must be posted on certain agency websites and disseminated to Medicare beneficiaries, as specified.

Latest Action

This bill was introduced to the House on July 9.

Next Steps

The House needs to vote on the bill before it will pass to the Senate.

 

4. Advancing Education on Biosimilars Act of 2021

Summary

With this bill, the FDA is required to advance education and awareness among health care providers about prescribing biological products and biosimilars (a biological product with no meaningful differences to a reference product). 

The FDA will carry on with resources on their website to provide educational materials about biological products.

Latest Action

This bill became a law in April 2021.

 

5. Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act of 2021

Summary

“This bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to awards grants to hospitals to increase their capacity to identify patients in emergency departments who are at risk of suicide and connect those patients with mental health treatments and services,” per congress.gov.

The grants awarded could be used in some of the following ways:

  • To hire emergency department licensed health care and behavioral health professionals specializing in the treatment of individuals at risk of suicide.
  • To develop and implement best practices for follow-up care and long-term treatment of at-risk patients.
  • To offer consultation with and referral to other supportive services.

Latest Action

The House passed this bill in May 2021.

Next Steps

The Senate needs to vote on this bill.

 

6. Mental Health Services for Students Act of 2021

Summary

This bill’s intention is to provide children and adolescents with school-based comprehensive mental health services, including screening, treatment and outreach programs.

Latest Action

This Bill passed in the House in May 2021.

Next Steps

The Senate needs to vote on this bill.

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