Unfinished Business – Legislative Imperatives for September

Ph03349iCongress is back from recess.  Quite a lively recess it was too, if you read the papers.  As tempting as it is to weigh in on that, I’ll go on to other matters.

First of all, SCHIP – the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.  This program, which provides low cost health insurance to poor children by giving grants to states is up for reauthorization and the program expires this month.  Apparently unable to resist a wrong decision, the Bush Administration has threatened a veto SCHIP.  This is a true test of this Administration and this Congress to work something out, especially considering the consequences of failure.  More detail on the background of this legislation and the positions of the House and the Senate can be found at Kip Piper’s Piper Report

Second, there is PDUFA.  There needs to be a reconciliation of the two versions of PDUFA reauthorization.  PDUFA got to be something of a Christmas tree, with many sectors wanting to hang on several ornaments to the legislation that renews the collection of user fees to supply the FDA with the necessary funding to maintain and expand staffing.  PDUFA also became a vehicle for FDA reform.  However, the details have not yet been worked out.  As of September 30, the FDA’s money pipeline gets choked up. 

There is a lot at stake here.  Not only the health of children and the working of a major government function – but the credibility of the current Administration and Congress.  Frankly, no one needs a loss here. 

The bell has rung.  Recess – and all the playing on the playground – is over.  Time for work. 

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