Welcome to 2024!
The Senate is back in session today, and the House comes back tomorrow. The beginning of 2024 is looking a lot like the end of 2023, with the big factor being the need to address government funding for fiscal year (FY) 2024.
It has been reported that Speaker of the House Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Schumer have reached a deal for the FY 2024 top-line spending levels to fund the government. The deal includes an accelerated cut of $10 billion to Internal Revenue Service funding from FY 2025 to FY 2024, and would rescind $6.1 billion in COVID-19 relief funds. The deal also would maintain the non-defense spending levels that were agreed upon a few months ago in a debt-limit agreement between former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.
With regard to a healthcare package, Congress needs to start moving quickly to negotiate healthcare priorities for inclusion. While the January 19 CR includes several health extenders and a few additional policies, many other health policies remain in flux. These include provisions passed by the House in H.R. 5378, the Lower Costs More Transparency Act; H.R. 4531, the SUPPORT Act as passed by the House and reported from the Senate HELP Committee; the Restoring America’s Health Care Workforce and Readiness Act, which was reported from the Senate HELP Committee and would provide increased funding to community health centers and bolster the healthcare workforce; the Modernizing and Ensuring PBM Accountability Act, which was reported from the Senate Finance Committee and makes transparency reforms relating to pharmacy benefit managers; and the recent discussion draft from the Senate Finance Committee that includes policies relating to mental health and prescription drug reforms. These policies received bipartisan support throughout 2023 but have not yet made it across the finish line. The first deadline for these policies to be squeezed into a funding package is January 19, but this could slip to February 2.
There is very little time for all of this to come together, but there is always time for it to fall apart.
Also noteworthy is that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) is holding its January meeting this week, which will include many votes on recommendations for its March 2024 Report to Congress on Medicare payment. Additionally, the Government Accountability Office officially released its call for MedPAC nominations to be effective in May 2024. The deadline is February 9, and letters/resumes may be sent to MedPACappointments@gao.gov. The official posting is found in the Federal Register.
Debbie Curtis and Rodney Whitlock join Julia Grabo to discuss the reported FY 2024 top-line spending agreement between congressional leaders and what it means for healthcare priorities ahead of the January 19 funding deadline.