Heading into the August Recess
This is the last week in session before Congress goes out for a six-week August recess. Before that, Congress is typically in a mad dash to advance bills. However, this year we are in a slow walk, and it is highly unlikely that any major healthcare-related bills will advance through either chamber prior to the August recess. This sets us up for a very busy fall and creates the potential for a large healthcare package near the end of the year.
That said, this week will be busy with markups in the Senate and House as both chambers continue working to advance healthcare policies this year. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a markup on pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) related bills. PBM reform is a top healthcare priority for both the House and Senate this Congress. We have already seen significant legislative activity on this topic since the 118th Congress began in January, and we anticipate more advancements in the coming months.
We also anticipate a markup in the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday on its version of the PATIENT Act that passed the Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this summer by a vote of 49–0. We expect that announcement later today and will only learn then what they plan to advance and whether it is bipartisan.
We expected the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to hold a mark-up on Wednesday, July 26. The HELP Committee was supposed to mark up the Primary Care and Health Workforce Expansion Act, which was just introduced last week by HELP Chair Bernie Sanders. The bill would fund key expiring programs and make significant new investments in primary care, and includes new provisions related to site neutral policies in the commercial market. HELP Committee Ranking Member Cassidy has his own bill to reauthorize several healthcare programs, including community health center funding. The Cassidy version is similar to the reauthorization levels passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. These two versions are creating conflict, and ultimately this mark-up was postponed until September.
The McDermottPlus Healthcare Preview will be on hiatus starting next week through the Congressional recess. We will return in September.