Health Policy Report (1/6)

The Week Ahead

Lawmakers are set to begin the second session of the 116th Congress this week, with the Senate returning this afternoon and the House reconvening tomorrow. While Senators await next steps in the impeachment process, the upper chamber is expected to resume consideration of pending presidential nominations. The Senate will resume consideration of Jovita Carranza's nomination to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration later today.

 

Health Policy Report (12/23)

The Week in Review

Lawmakers completed legislative business for the first session of the 116th Congress following action on significant policy priorities to close out 2019. Late Friday, President Donald Trump signed two massive spending measures for fiscal year (FY) 2020 into law after both the national security and domestic policy "minibus" packages cleared Congress with strong bipartisan support earlier last week. The deals include several wide-ranging policy provisions pertaining to Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes, health extenders, terrorism risk insurance, and retirement reform. Negotiators also reached an agreement on several "tax extenders" that would renew certain tax provisions that expired at the beginning of 2018 and 2019, or that were set to expire on Jan. 1, 2020.

 

Next Week on the Hill: Lawmakers Adjourn for Holiday Recess

Lawmakers have completed legislative business for the first session of the 116th Congress following action on significant policy items such as government funding, tax extenders, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Prior to adjourning yesterday, Senators sent the fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding bills to President Donald Trump’s desk ahead of tonight’s government funding deadline, passing both the domestic policy minibus (71-23), as well as the national security measure (88-11) that includes appropriations bills for Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services and General Government, and Homeland Security. Earlier this morning, the president tweeted that he plans to sign the measures into law later today.

 

Today on the Hill: Senate Votes on Spending Packages Expected Thursday

Congress moved one step closer to avoiding a government shutdown yesterday after the House passed two large “minibus” spending packages. Both measures passed on a bipartisan basis, with the domestic policy package passing on 297-120 vote, while the national security minibus passed 280-138. Senators are expected to vote on the fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bills tomorrow in order to place them on President Donald Trump's desk ahead of Friday's government funding deadline. While White House officials have indicated that he will sign the measures into law, President Trump's position on the measures has yet to be explicitly stated.

 

Today on the Hill: House Readies Votes on Government Funding Packages

House lawmakers will reconvene today eyeing floor votes on two massive “minibus” spending measures following an agreement from Appropriations “Cardinals” yesterday afternoon. In addition to funding the government through the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2020, the deal includes several wide-ranging policy provisions pertaining to Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes, terrorism risk insurance, retirement reform, and gun violence research. Negotiators also clinched deals on extensions for key expiring health programs such as: (1) the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program; (2) the Money Follows the Person rebalancing demonstration; and (3) the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

 

This Week on the Hill: Lawmakers Close Out 2019 With Legislative Blitz

Congress returns to action this week to close out 2019 with votes on key legislative priorities — notably centered around government funding for fiscal year (FY) 2020. With legislative text set to be released later this afternoon, House lawmakers could vote on a series of “minibus” packages to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year as early as Tuesday, with the Senate following suit shortly thereafter. While Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) expressed optimism about the prospects of support from both GOP leadership and President Donald Trump, it ultimately remains to be seen whether the President will sign off on the measures if his border-related priorities are not met. Congress has until midnight on Friday, Dec. 20 to fund the government and avert a shutdown. 

 

Health Policy Report (12/16)

The Week in Review

Last week, Congressional Appropriations “Cardinals” announced an agreement in principle on $1.37 trillion in government funding for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The tentative agreement — which was struck hours after a meeting between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) — signals an end to months of tense negotiations that primarily revolved around border wall funding, Title X family planning grants, gun control, and hundreds of additional “poison pill” issues that stymied the process. Although details are still being negotiated, there are indications that the year-end spending package could include some major health policy related surprises, such as repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac Tax” and medical device tax.

 

Financial Services Report (12/16)

If all goes according to plan – and with this Congress that is far from certain – the House will pass its funding measures on Tuesday, impeach the President on Wednesday and then pass the USMCA on Thursday before heading home for a two week break. The Senate will pass the spending bill on Thursday or Friday and then also leave town. Rumored to be included in these end of year spending bills are: SECURE Act, TRIA extension, and Ex-Im re-authorization, a short term flood extension, and some tax provisions (maybe). The caveat of course is the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, who might not be willing to sign the two appropriations bills into law due to perceived inadequacies for wall funding. If that were to happen the best bet is that Congress would pass a short term CR – but there is a chance, albeit a small one, that the President wouldn't sign that either and the government could — once again – shut down during Christmas.

 

Next Week on the Hill: Lawmakers Conclude 2019 With Big-Ticket Priorities

Congress will return to action next week to close out 2019 with votes on key legislative priorities. After Appropriations “Cardinals” reached an agreement in principle on government funding for fiscal year (FY) 2020, House and Senate lawmakers will look to pass a series of “minibus” spending packages for each of the 12 bills ahead of next Friday’s deadline. While GOP leadership expressed optimism about the prospects of support from President Donald Trump, it ultimately remains to be seen whether the President will sign off on the measures if his border-related priorities are not met.

 

Today on the Hill: Democrats Look to Clinch Drug Pricing Reform Package

House lawmakers have reconvened and are resuming consideration of the House Democrats’ signature drug pricing bill. The measure would: (1) permit negotiations on insulins and up to 250 other drugs annually, with prices backstopped at 120 percent of the average of prices in a basket of select wealthy countries and severe penalties for nonparticipation in negotiations; (2) place caps on prescription drugs’ annual price growth; and (3) restructure the Medicare Part D benefit. Lawmakers are currently considering 12 amendments to the underlying package, including a substitute amendment offered by Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) that Republicans argue reflects areas of bipartisan agreement on drug pricing reform.