On May 18, the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up and advanced 6 pieces of legislation, including the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022 (H.R. 7666) and the Advanced Research Project Agency-Health (ARPA-H) Act (H.R. 5585).Previously, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health voted unanimously to advance both bills in a May 11 markup [refer to Washington Highlights, May 13]. The full committee’s bipartisan vote of 55-0 for H.R. 7666 and vote of 53-3 on H.R. 5585 allows the measures to proceed to the floor of the House of Representatives for consideration.
In his opening statement, committee chair Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) applauded the committee for their bipartisan cooperation on the legislation, which will authorize and reauthorize crucial programs to prevent and treat mental health and substance use disorders. He reflected upon proposed amendments to the legislation, which would include key provisions of the AAMC-supported Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act of 2021 (H.R. 1384) as well as the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act of 2021 (H.R. 2067). Pallone emphasized the importance of expanding access to and reducing stigma around substance use disorder treatment.
Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) reflected upon the importance of the legislation, stating that it “would reauthorize key federal programs that promote access to behavioral health care and comprehensive services for those seeking help overcoming substance use disorder. We saw throughout the pandemic just how important access to these services can be.” In addition, he expressed his appreciation that legislation he sponsored, the Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Services Block Grant Act of 2022, was included in the bipartisan package.
At the markup, committee members considered several amendments to the legislation. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) proposed an amendment containing provisions of the MAT Act, which would remove the requirement that health care providers apply for and receive an X-waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of a substance use disorder. “We live in a country where forty percent of counties, home to more than 20 million Americans, lack a single physician who can prescribe buprenorphine for addiction,” he stated. This amendment was agreed to by a roll call vote of 45-10.
Committee members also considered an amendment introduced by Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), which was agreed to by a roll call vote of 46-8. The amendment included provisions of the MATE Act, which would require that providers who are licensed under state law to prescribe controlled substances (including buprenorphine) complete at least eight hours of training on how to effectively manage opioid and other substance use disorders.
In addition, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) introduced an amendment inspired by H.R. 2929, the Virtual Peer Support Act of 2021, which would provide grants to support access to virtual and in-person peer support services. “We know that research and real-world evidence has shown that engaging with a trained mental health peer specialist in an individual or group setting can offer needed support to maintain wellness,” he stated. The amendment was agreed to by a roll call vote of 55-1.
The committee considered an amendment proposed by Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), which would offer grant funding to states to ensure compliance with federal mental health parity laws. This amendment was agreed to by a roll call vote of 31-24.
In addition, the committee marked up and advanced legislation for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to collect user fees from developers of medical products and legislation authorizing the creation of ARPA-H. The Food and Drug Amendments Act of 2022 (H.R. 7667) was agreed to by a roll call vote of 55-0. Representative Butterfield (D-NC) proffered an amendment to the legislation based on the Give Kids a Chance Act (H.R. 5416), which would give the FDA authority to require pediatric investigation of combinations of novel targeted cancer therapies. This amendment was agreed to by a voice vote. Health Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) introduced an amendment in the nature of a substitute to the ARPA-H Act, which defines the scope and mission of the new agency. The amendment was agreed to by a voice vote, and the underlying legislation was agreed to by a roll call vote of 53-3.