Tuesday, November 12, 2013

U.S House Passes Preemie Legislation (Updated on 11/13/13 with More Information)

This evening, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Reauthorization Act (S. 252), as amended, by a voice vote.  This bipartisan legislation expands federal research and activities related to preterm birth, and reauthorizes legislation that was signed into law in December 2006 (P.L. 109-450).

If you tuned into C-SPAN for the debate of S. 252, you may have also heard that the bill includes language reauthorizing chimpanzee care. The language, as amended, also includes a provision to provide the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with flexibility within its budget to retire government-owned chimpanzees from laboratories to sanctuaries, and continue to support those already in sanctuary.

Several other changes were made to the bill language. Below is a summary of key provisions.

Summary of Key Provisions (As Amended)

Title I: PREEMIE Act Reauthorization
  • Names the short title of the bill, the "Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early Reauthorization Act'' or the "PREEMIE Reauthorization Act."
  • Authorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct epidemiology studies on various factors related to prematurity; improve national data to track preterm births; and continue efforts to prevent preterm birth. 
  • Requires Health and Human Services to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees outlining the progress and results of the studies every two years.
  • Authorizes $1.88 million for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018 to carry-out CDC activities.
  • Requires the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to give preference to entities that propose the use of grant funds to establish telehealth networks that provide prenatal care for high-risk pregnancies.   
  • Allows for the continuation of HHS demonstration projects to: improve information on prematurity to health professionals, other health care providers, and the public; and improve the treatment and outcomes for babies born preterm.  Projects may include development of information on the core risk factors for preterm labor and delivery; medically indicated deliveries before full-term; and the importance of preconception and prenatal care, including:  smoking cessation, weight maintenance and good nutrition (including folic acid); and stress management, among other things.
  • Authorizes $1.9 million for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018 to carry-out demonstration projects.
  • Allows the HHS Secretary to create an Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality.  The Committee would provide recommendations concerning:  (1) HHS programs to reduce infant mortality and improve the health status of pregnant women and infants; (2) strategies to coordinate various federal programs with State, local, and private programs that address factors regarding infant mortality; (3) the Healthy Start Program and the Healthy People 2020 infant mortality objectives; and (4) efforts to reduce preterm births through research, programs, and education.
  • Requires the Advisory Committee to develop a plan to conduct and support research, education, and programs on preterm birth through HHS.  The plan will include input from scientists, patients and advocacy groups, as appropriate.
  • Requires the HHS Secretary to identify an agency within HHS to coordinate existing studies on hospital readmissions of preterm infants.  With one year, the agency will submit a report to Congress and the HHS Secretary containing its findings and recommendations to reduce rates of preventable hospital readmissions for preterm babies.
Title II: National Pediatric Research Network
  • Allows the NIH to establish a National Pediatric Research Network. The Network would consist of research institutions that would operate as a consortium in order to pool resources and coordinate activities related to pediatric rare diseases or birth defects. NIH may award funding to entities providing support for pediatric research consortia.
Title III: Chimpanzee Health Improvement Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act Amendments
  • Reauthorizes language to provide care, maintenance, and transportation of chimpanzees currently or formerly used by the NIH for research through FY2018. 
  • Authorizes funding for chimpanzee care FY 2014-2018 (starting with $12.4 million in FY 2014, which is consistent with the amount currently used for these activities -- and reducing the amount to $9.4 million in FY 2018).
  • Requires the General Accountability Office to conduct a study on the chimpanzees owned by the NIH and explore options for saving money.
  • Requires NIH to publish a biennial report on the care of chimpanzees under NIH control and the costs and research status associated with such care. 
Following passage in the U.S. House, Members of Congress amended the bill title so as to read:  "An Act to reduce preterm labor and delivery and the risk of pregnancy-related deaths and complications due to pregnancy, and to reduce infant mortality caused by prematurity, and for other purposes.''


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