May 04, 2022

Manchin Questions HHS Secretary on Medication Supply Chains, Energy Assistance in West Virginia, Combatting Drug Epidemic

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioned U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra on supply chains for essential medications, administration of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in West Virginia and addressing the drug epidemic by passing the LifeBOAT Act.

On supply chains for essential medications:

“We’ve spoken quite a bit about supply chains, and we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic how fragile they are as we try to meet the needs of the people. This Administration has instituted a whole governmental effort to assess what can be done to strengthen competitiveness and supply chain designs…What progress has the Department made in confronting this supply chain crisis that jeopardizes the supply of medications that patients rely on?” Senator Manchin questioned in part.

On administering LIHEAP in West Virginia:

“On LIHEAP, we're having a hard time back home in West Virginia and nationally with challenges states are facing in administering the program. We’re having trouble getting people to administer it and getting the money for it to be administered. Have you all looked into this? Can you look into how you can make sure the money is getting there and how you can support the administrators in getting the money out? It’s been very, very difficult for a lot of poor people,” Senator Manchin said.

On Senator Manchin’s LifeBOAT Act, which would establish a fee to provide and expand access to substance use treatment:

“I've been trying to pass the LifeBOAT Act, and the only thing it does is charge manufacturers of opioids one penny per milligram. Then, that one penny per milligram goes to treatment centers all over America. Every one of our states has an addiction problem, but we have so few facilities…So, if you’re going to put this product on the market, you have to know the damage it does. And right now, we see lawsuits all over the country. I hope you all are looking to see if it's something you can support. It's not onerous at all,” Senator Manchin said.

Senator Manchin’s efforts to combat the drug epidemic can be found here.

Video of Senator Manchin during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education hearing can be found here.