“It could easily be part of this package,” he said. “I’ll certainly push that it should be part of it.”

Kaine said he was among those fine-tuning the package for reauthorization.

It isn’t just the Senate that has a plan for reauthorizing the program. The bill has been reintroduced in the House, and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), who also spoke at the event, said there’s a sense of urgency to get it — and other big programs — reauthorized.

“I think you’ll see in the very near future it [as] part of a legislative hearing,” Guthrie said. “We want to do it sooner rather than later.”

Even as Congress looks to renew the years-old program, patient advocates at the event argued the most recent advances haven’t always made it to patients who need them most. The maker of Aduhelm, a controversial Alzheimer’s treatment that offered hope to some patients,
announced Wednesday it would stop making the drug after an internal review of its research and development efforts — and after CMS said it would limit coverage of the drug.

Biogen determined that it should redirect its resources toward developing other drug candidates and advancing Leqembi, another Alzheimer’s drug it’s marketing with Eisai that won traditional FDA approval last year.

Still, Congress is just weeks away from needing another spending package to keep the government open — and many see that package as an opportunity to get health legislation of all kinds across the finish line.

“We need to do it,” Kaine said.