Congress Is Back for an Important Work Period
Congress is back from its two-week spring recess. This work period in Congress will go through the Memorial Day recess. This is a very important work period stretch for Congress to tackle big-picture issues and address specific policies, including those related to healthcare.
The front-page issues will focus on the budget and debt limit. The debt limit is the total amount of money that the US government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds and other payments. The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the debt limit remains unchanged, the government’s ability to borrow using extraordinary measures will be exhausted between July and September 2023—meaning Congress needs to act to address the debt limit prior to that deadline.
Congress also needs to develop a federal budget. House Republicans had a goal of adopting a budget resolution by the statutory April 15 deadline, but this deadline was missed. House Republican leadership is working on a budget that would include some types of spending cuts in exchange for lifting the debt limit. But, due to very tight margins, it is unclear if such a proposal would receive 218 votes in the House. Separately, moderate Democrat Rep. Golden (D-ME) is working on a budget and debt limit compromise package in hopes that both sides would agree. How the debt limit and budget play out over the next months will be important to watch, as well as whether any other policies get attached to the proposals and whether any programs potentially receive cuts.
During this work period we are also watching for legislative activity in the healthcare space. We expect several committees to start considering legislation on a number of issues. Conversations appear to have started around pharmacy benefit managers and hospital transparency, and these conversations could expand to other issues. Needless to say, it will definitely be an active work period.