Increasing Small Business Investments, Relaxing COVID Vaccination Requirements and Generating More Challenges to Abortion Access

Investing in Main Street Act of 2023 (HR 400) – Introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) on Jan.20, this bill would permit certain financial institutions to increase investments in small business investment companies (SBICs). The current cap is 5 percent; if passed, the amount would rise to up to 15 percent of their capital and surplus. The bill passed in the House on Jan.25 and is now under consideration in the Senate.

To terminate the requirement imposed by the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for proof of COVID-19 vaccination for foreign travelers and for other purposes (HR 185) – This bill would nullify the standing CDC order that requires non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (or otherwise prove adherence to public health measures to prevent contagion)for entry into the United States by air travel. The bill also would nullify both successor and subsequent orders that would require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of entry and prohibit the use of federal funds to enforce such a requirement. However, the bill carves out exceptions for certain individuals traveling from China to the United States. The bill was introduced on Jan. 9 by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY). It passed in the House on Feb. 8 and is currently under consideration in the Senate.

Freedom for Health Care Workers Act (HR 497) – The passage of this bill would eliminate the current COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare providers working in certain federal healthcare programs. The bill was introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) on Jan. 25 and passed in the House on Jan. 31. It is currently awaiting review in the Senate.

To nullify the modifications made by the Food and Drug Administration in January 2023 to the risk evaluation and mitigation strategy for the abortion pill mifepristone and for other purposes (HR 383) – This bill would nullify the FDA’s new rule allowing a pharmacy to dispense mifepristone, as well as ban the pill from being offered by mail. Medication abortion is now the most commonly used abortion method in the United States. Under the current guidelines, pharmacies may prescribe mifepristone in person to patients, essentially permitting it to be disseminated at the same time with misoprostol. This two-pill combination is taken in sequence to induce an abortion at home. The bill to ban this access was introduced on Jan. 17 by Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) but has yet to be assigned to a committee for review.

To ensure the privacy of pregnancy termination or loss information under the HIPAA privacy regulations and the HITECH Act (HR 459) – This legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) on Jan. 24. It would ban doctors from revealing a patient’s abortion information without consent, even under a court order or subpoena. Presently, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) restricts doctors, psychologists, pharmacies, hospitals, etc., from revealing a patient’s protected health information – unless compelled to do so by law. This bill would make it illegal for a medical professional to reveal a patient’s abortion information without the patient’s consent, superseding even a court order or subpoena. The bill is currently in the House awaiting a potential vote by the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Prescription Pricing for the People Act of 2023 (S 113) – This bill would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to study the role of intermediaries in the pharmaceutical supply chain and report on anti-competitive practices and other trends that impact how prescription medications are priced. In an effort to increase transparency, the FTC also would provide recommendations to Congress for potential legislative action. The bill was introduced on Jan. 26 by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and is currently being considered in the Senate.