Continuing Resolution Coming Soon?
The December 16th expiration of the continuing resolution (CR) is coming quickly. It is likely Congress will consider a short-term CR to provide more time to compromise and finalize end-of-the-year priorities. For those planning holiday travel, Congress being in session through December 23rd is likely.
This timeline does not leave much time to work on lame duck policy. Mental health is a lame duck policy that has received bipartisan and bicameral support over the last year. All four of the health care committees have been working on mental health policies. In particular, the Senate Finance Committee has divided its mental health work into five key areas—improving access for children and young people, furthering the use of telehealth, ensuring parity, strengthening the workforce, and increasing integration, coordination and access—and the bipartisan duos of committee members are leading each initiative. The telehealth discussion draft was released in May, the children/youth discussion draft was released in June, the workforce discussion draft was released in September, and the integration and coordination discussion draft was released in October. The latest discussion draft—led by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Richard Burr (R-NC)—was released last week and it focuses on improving mental health parity in Medicare and Medicaid and helping to put access to mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services on par with physical health care. Ultimately which mental health policies are addressed in an end of the year package is unclear. Low to no cost provisions have a good chance of making it in because they are low to no cost. It also can suggest a “down payment” on addressing mental health and push off larger policies into next year.
This week the Georgia run-off election will be held on December 6, 2022. The outcome will not impact who controls the Senate – Democrats will remain in control regardless of the outcome. But, having a clear majority in the Senate would impact the way committees are structured and would speed up nominations as well. Additionally, the National Defense Authorization Act – a must-pass defense policy bill is going to be released as early as today, and the House has scheduled a floor vote this week.