House Panel Approves ‘Patient Navigator’ Bill To Help Uninsured Patients
The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved a bill (HR 1812) that would establish a "patient navigator" system to help uninsured patients with chronic illnesses make medical decisions, CQ HealthBeat reports.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), would authorize $25 million in grants over five years to establish patient navigator programs in low-income and rural communities nationwide. Under the system, patient navigators would help uninsured patients evaluate their treatment options, as well as help them obtain referrals, find clinical trials and apply for financial assistance. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on April 27 passed a companion bill (S 898).
The committee on Wednesday by voice vote also passed a bill (HR 184) that would amend the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act to provide the U.S. attorney general with the authority to allow the export and re-export of Schedule I or II narcotics -- such as mescaline and marijuana -- or Schedule III or IV narcotics -- such as Darvon, Lortab and Vicodin. Under current law, companies can only export such narcotics to the nations in which they are used.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), would apply only to narcotics sold for medical or scientific purposes and only to nations that have signed the major international narcotic and psychotropic medication agreements. In addition, the committee by voice vote approved a bill (HR 869) that would remove limits on the number of patients for whom health care providers in group practices can prescribe drug addiction treatments. Under current law, providers can prescribe such treatments to no more than 30 patients (CQ HealthBeat, 5/4).