Moving Inside the Beltway: Brief Health Roundup

We are working to move the following legislation forward:

Immigration: S. 744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, includes provisions that would ensure employers with greater access to U.S.-trained immigrant scientists and engineers, and we are working to ensure that remains the case. As drafted, S. 744 would raise the cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 110,000, with an option to elevate the cap up to 180,000 based on market demand for and availability of highly-skilled workers.  In addition, under this bill, STEM graduates with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education would be exempted from the cap on employment-based visas, and 40% of the worldwide level of employment-based visas would be allocated to professionals with advanced degrees and talents in science, art, business, and other similar professions.

Track-and-Trace:  We want to thank the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 1919, The Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act of 2013, which proposes to establish a single, uniform and national system for protecting patient safety and securing the domestic pharmaceutical supply chain. We applaud the bipartisan work Chairman Upton and Congressmen Dingell, Matheson and Latta have done to advance H.R. 1919 through the full House of Representatives. We are working with the Pharmaceutical Distribution Security Alliance (PDSA) – a coalition of more than 25 stakeholders spanning the supply chain spectrum and including biologic and pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies and logistics providers – to ensure that a strong and effective bill is enacted to create a safe and unified nationwide track and trace system that protects public health.

Vaccine Excise Tax: Representatives Gerlach (R-PA) and Neal (D-MA) and Senators Baucus (D-MT) and Hatch (R-UT) have introduced bills (H.R. 475 and S. 391) to update the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) to cover new four-strain flu vaccines. The VICP is a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims which allows for a fair and much more simple process of filing claims for potential injury due to vaccines. The Senate has passed S. 391, and the House is expected to vote on H.R. 475 soon. We worked with Every Child by Two to place an opinion editorial in this Friday’s The Hill/Congress Blog, and we will continue to work with the Congress to ensure passage to protect the public’s health in the upcoming flu season.

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