The House Education and Workforce Committee Wednesday approved a bill, H.R. 1120, that would require the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to cease all activity requiring a three-member quorum until either more board members are confirmed by the Senate, the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of three appointments to the board, or the congressional session ends. The bill also would prevent the board from enforcing any action taken after January 2012 or making any interagency appointments that require a quorum. NLRB last week announced it would petition the Supreme Court to review a Jan. 25 ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals that invalidated three appointments President Obama made to the board last year. At issue was whether President Obama validly used his recess appointment authority to appoint three members to the board on Jan. 4, 2012, without Senate approval. In a unanimous decision, the court held that the president can only make recess appointments for vacancies that arise during an official recess, which it defined as the break between sessions of Congress. If the ruling stands, it could invalidate all NLRB decisions made since the appointees joined the board due to lack of a legally required quorum for doing business. If the court takes the case, it likely would be heard in the term beginning this October. For more, click on: http://tinyurl.com/a7twryt.
Preparedness Reauthorization Act
President Obama last week signed into law the “Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act,” H.R. 307. AHA-supported provisions in the bill reauthorize the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP), Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals, Medical Reserve Corps and other critical preparedness activities through fiscal year 2018; clarify allowable activities for recipients of HPP funds; and permit national collaboration among HPP-funded entities. “Thousands of hospitals and communities across the country participate in these programs, and because of this participation they now have stronger capabilities and better planning to respond to disasters,” said Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Nicole Lurie. The legislation bolsters the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support rapid responses to public health emergencies by clarifying that even before an event, FDA may issue an emergency use authorization to allow emergency use of certain products as medical countermeasures. The preparedness legislation also grants new authorities to state health departments for more flexibility in dedicating resources to meet critical community needs during a disaster.
Residency training positions
Sens. Bill Nelson, D-FL, Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Harry Reid, D-NV, last week introduced AHA-supported legislation, S. 577, that would add roughly 15,000 Medicare-supported positions to residency training positions. Preference for the additional positions, a 15% increase, would go to programs training physicians for primary care and general surgery. If a hospital closes, the bill would allow its residency positions to be redistributed to nearby hospitals. The bill also would give hospitals more flexibility to train residents in clinical settings outside the hospital, such as community health centers and physician offices. The 1997 “Balanced Budget Act” froze the number of residency positions at the 1996 level. However, several studies have projected a substantial physician shortage in the coming years. The senators sponsored a similar bill in the 112th Congress.