There are several bills moving through Congress addressing women's health. Below are short summaries of women's health legislation and highlights of language included in the FY24 Senate Health and Human Services funding bill that ranges from maternal health to heart disease to cancer to diversity in biomedical research. The House version has not been released to the public yet. The two chambers are expected to start working on a Continuing Resolution in September with the FY2024 fiscal year starting October 1, 2023.
Some bills impacting women's health that are gaining co-sponsors in Congress include:
- NIH Clinical Trial Diversity Act to require clear and measurable goals for the recruitment and retention of participants that reflect the race, ethnicity, age, and sex of patients with the disease or condition being investigated — HR 3503 (Rep. Robin Kelly)
- Advancing Safe Medications for Moms and Babies Act to include pregnant and lactating women in clinical research — HR 1117 (Rep. Kathy Castor)
- PREEMIE Reauthorization Act to reduce preterm birth and infant mortality — HR 3226/S 1573 (Rep. Anna Eshoo/Sen. Michael Bennet)
- Moms Matter Act to create a Maternal Mental Health Equity Grant Program — HR 3312/S 1602 (Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester/Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand)
- Find It Early Act to provide health coverage with no cost-sharing for additional breast screenings such as ultrasounds for women with dense breasts — HR 3630 (Rep. Rosa DeLauro)
- Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventive Services Act — HR 4534/S 2245 (Rep. Brendan Boyle/Sen. Marco Rubio)
- Menstrual Equity For All Act — HR 3646 (Rep. Grace Meng)
The FY24 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations bill passed the Committee right before the August recess. The total proposed funding is $207.37 billion with NIH receiving $47.5 billion, an increase of $2.5 billion. The House version was not passed by committee and details within the bill's report remain undisclosed. However, the total funding proposed in the House bill is $147 billion, which is $60.3 billion (29%) below the FY23 enacted level, and funds NIH with $43 billion, $3.8 billion less than FY23. The House and Senate will have to negotiate a compromise in the fall.
Senate LHHS Highlights include:
- Women’s Health Research Study — Secretary will provide a report in 18 months on findings and recommendations following coordination with NIH and NASEM on the proportion of research on conditions that are more common or unique to women across the lifespan, evaluation of sex and gender differences and racial health disparities, and determination of the appropriate level of funding that is needed to address gaps in women’s health research at NIH.
- Diversity — Committee recommends that NIH fund or conduct Black/African American-, Latino/Hispanic- and women-only research studies to better understand the underlying etiology of cognitive impairment and dementia in these groups that have disproportionately higher prevalence of the disease.
- Women’s Health Clinical Research Network —Directs NIH to expand and more formally coordinate its support women’s health clinical research by leveraging the CTSA program run by NCATS, directing evaluation on how to better promote research and collaborations that address the distinctive medical and health needs of women and advance the dissemination and implementation of research results. An update on these activities will be due within 120 days of enactment.
- Office of Research on Women's Health — Provides $7M, an increase of $2M above FY23 enacted level, to expand the BIRCWH (Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health) program.
- Maternal Mortality — Provides $11M for screening and treatment within the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders program and directs HRSA to fund grants to train professionals to screen, assess, and treat for maternal depression in women who are pregnant or given birth within 12 months.
- Endometriosis — Encourages NIH to advance research to increase earlier detection, develop more accurate diagnostics and for education to inform healthcare providers and their patients regarding diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis.
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse — NICHD will convene a workshop to assess peripartum, intrapartum, and postpartum preventative strategies for POP including ways to decrease pelvic floor trauma/denervation during delivery, with the goal of reducing the risk of subsequent POP and its complications.
Women's Health Innovation Summit
Thursday-Friday, September 14-15 — Westin Copley
Each year for the past five years, the Women's Health Innovation Summit has organized this conference to convene leaders and change-makers who are executives from industry, entrepreneurs, research institutions, venture capitalists, and expert analysts in policy and economics to advance the health of women.
- September 15 — Liz Powell will lead the Advocacy Town Hall to advance patient advocacy, drive policy initiatives, and increase market access to improve the quality and affordability of women’s healthcare.