It’s State of the Union Week.
Both the House and Senate are back in session this week, and President Biden is set to give his State of the Union address tomorrow night. His speech will undoubtedly focus on a range of pressing topics—for example, the war in Ukraine and his Supreme Court nominee—but healthcare is too significant an issue to leave out entirely. We expect the president to call for action on some of the most popular aspects of the Build Back Better Act, including lowering prescription drug prices and extending the enhanced Affordable Care Act tax credits. Whether these topics’ inclusion in the State of the Union will spur any significant progress is an entirely different question.
This week Congress must also finalize, or get very close to finalizing, the fiscal year 2022 omnibus spending bill, which must be passed and signed into law by March 11. As that deadline approaches, it grows less likely that the bill will include significant healthcare priorities beyond a funding extension for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program, and possibly an extension of the telehealth flexibilities, through the end of this calendar year. Congress would have to address these issues again shortly after the midterm elections. The cost of these extensions also would need to be offset, reducing the availability of offsets for other healthcare policies. As a result, expect the omnibus to include a limited number of healthcare policies with solid bipartisan, bicameral support.
Bottom line: Healthcare remains on the backburner, but the omnibus may provide short-term certainty on a few important issues.
Rodney Whitlock and Debbie Curtis join guest host Amy Kelbick to discuss what health care policies could make it into the Omnibus Appropriations Bill that must pass by March 11. They also preview what President Biden might say on health care in his upcoming State of the Union address.
Listen to “It’s State of the Union Week and Crunch Time on the Omnibus” on Spreaker.