IP and Innovation on Capitol Hill: Week of April 1: Medicare Drug Pricing, Lost Einsteins and Data Privacy

By IPWatchdog
April 1, 2019

This week on Capitol Hill will include a series of hearings related to tech and innovation topics on Tuesday at the House of Representatives, where debate will focus on the 2020 budget for NASA and the National Institutes of Health, as well as on technology issues at Veterans Affairs. Senate hearings will take a look at Alzheimer’s research and funding for the Department of Energy. On Wednesday, the Senate IP Subcommittee will hold a hearing to look at gender diversity issues in the U.S. patent system. Elsewhere in D.C., the Cato Institute will look at Medicare drug pricing issues, a topic which has increasingly included discussion of patents, and the American Enterprise Institute will consider consumer data privacy issues in a two-hour event featuring officials from the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice.

Monday, April 1 

Cato Institute 

How Much Should Medicare Pay for Drugs?

At 12:00 PM on Monday at 2075 Rayburn House Office Building.

Congress has been aggressively pursuing answers to the issue of skyrocketing drug prices to ensure that Medicare can provide treatment to millions of Americans who are in the program. In various Congressional hearings, patents have been in the crosshairs, as policymakers debate the potential of exercising government march-in rights under Bayh-Dole. This event will examine the underlying reason for the rise in prescription drug prices, as well as appropriate policy solutions to address the issue. The event includes a discussion with Michael Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at Cato, and Peter Van Doren, Senior Fellow at Cato. Their discussion will be moderated by Jeff Vanderslice, Director of Government and External Affairs.

Tuesday, April 2 

Senate Special Committee on Aging 

Alzheimer’s: New Directions in Biomedical Research and Caregiving

At 9:30 AM on Tuesday in 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Recently published research towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease has revealed that a strategy called gamma oscillation entrainment—involving flickers of light timed to pulsate with a buzzing sound at a specific frequency—was able to improve brain activity in mice. The witness panel for this hearing includes Mary Dysart Hartt, Family Caregiver from Hampden, ME; Clay Jacobs, Executive Director, Greater Pennsylvania Area Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association; Dr. Sharon Fekrat, Professor, Ophthalmology and Surgery, Duke School of Medicine; and Dr. Richard Hodes, Director, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health. 

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology 

A Review of the NASA FY2020 Budget Request

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 2318 Rayburn.

The budget request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) 2020 fiscal year does include funding for sending a manned mission to the Moon, a major milestone in NASA’s plans to send a manned mission to Mars, but the budget also suggests that development of the Space Launch System launch vehicle for the Mars mission may be delayed. The sole witness for this hearing is the Honorable James Bridenstine, NASA Administrator.

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 

Full Committee Hearing to Examine the President’s FY 2020 Budget Request for DOE

At 10:00 AM on Tuesday in 366 Dirksen.

The Trump Administration’s 2020 budget includes big cuts in research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), such as a 70% reduction in funding for the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The sole witness for this hearing is the Honorable Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy.

House Subcommittee on Technology Modernization 

Mapping the Challenges and Progress of the Office of Information and Technology

At 10:15 AM on Tuesday in 1302 Longworth House Office Building.

The Office of Information and Technology at Veterans Affairs (VA) released a technology modernization report this January which discussed cloud-based management tools for identifying IT issues that could impact veterans’ care and authenticating veterans and employees more securely. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.

House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

National Institutes of Health Budget Request for FY 2020

At 10:30 AM on Tuesday in 2358-C Rayburn.

The 2020 budget released by President Donald Trump includes a 13% spending cut for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the federal research agency which funds basic research in medical sciences at universities and research institutions across the country. The witness panel for this hearing includes Dr. Diana Bianchi, Director, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Dr. Francis Collins, Director, NIH; Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Gary Gibbons, Director, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute; Dr. Doug Lowy, Deputy Director, National Cancer Institute; and Dr. Nora Volkow, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse.

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs 

MISSION Critical: Assessing the Technology to Support Community Care

At 2:00 PM on Tuesday in 2360 Rayburn.

In late March, Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie asked the Senate Committee for Veterans Affairs for $4.6 billion in additional funding for the VA’s community care program, which has been criticized by Democrats and veterans groups who are looking to privatize certain functions of the VA. Recent news reports indicate that the community care problem has a troubled IT infrastructure. The witness panel for this hearing hasn’t been announced yet.

Wednesday, April 3

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Executive Session

At 9:30 AM on Wednesday in G50 Dirksen.

The full Senate Commerce Committee will meet for an executive session, although video of the markup session of the hearing will be made publicly available. The committee will discuss a few bills related to technology, including S. 918, the Eliminate From Regulators Opportunities to Nationalize the Internet in Every Respect Act, as well as the currently unnumbered Space Frontier Act and Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act.

American Enterprise Institute 

Perspectives on Data Privacy From the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice

At 12:00 PM on Wednesday at AEI Auditorium, 1789 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

Digital privacy issues, especially regarding consumer data, has been a major topic of debate at the federal government level and the United States aims to be a leader in enabling the provision of secure networks to its citizens. This event will include remarks by Peter Winn, Acting Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer, Department of Justice, followed by a discussion with Winn and Roslyn Layton of AEI. After that session will be remarks by Christine Wilson, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission, who will then engage in a discussion with Shane Tews of AEI. There will also be a panel discussion with Pam Dixon, World Privacy Forum; Joseph Jerome, Center for Democracy & Technology; Bret Swanson, AEI; and Peter Swire, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property

Trailblazers and Lost Einsteins: Women Inventors and the Future of American Innovation

At 2:15 PM on Wednesday in 226 Dirksen.

In February, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released a report finding that the rate of female inventors was not keeping pace with the rate of women entering science and engineering fields. Last week, the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a hearing on the same topic that will be discussed at this Senate IP Subcommittee hearing. The witness panel includes Robin Rasor, Executive Director, Office of Licensing and Venture, Duke University; Dr. Barbara Gault, Executive Vice President, Institute for Women’s Policy Research; Dr. Patricia Bath, President, American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness; and Sandra Novak, Assistant Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, 3M Innovative Properties Company.

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