COUNTDOWN TO THE AUGUST RECESS
The crunch is on to pass the reconciliation package in the Senate. Majority Leader Schumer wants to pass the reconciliation package that will focus on prescription drug pricing reform and extension of the Marketplace advanced premium tax credits (APTCs) before the August recess. With the Senate recess set to begin August 5, this leaves little time. The parliamentarian is reviewing provisions of the package to ensure it meets reconciliation rules, and we may see her decision as early as today. Text of the prescription drug provisions has been available, but text of the APTC provisions is still unknown, specifically the length of time the APTCs will be extended. Stakeholders continue working to add provisions to the reconciliation package, but it remains likely to be a narrow bill in order to achieve 50 votes to pass the Senate. However, a final agreement may not make it to the Senate floor until the first week in August. This means the House will likely be called back into session to consider the reconciliation bill after that, as this is the last week the House is in session.
Telehealth Bill on the House Floor. This week the House is expected to vote on the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act of 2021 (H.R. 4040) bill, led by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI). The bill, originally introduced in June 2021, would permanently extend several COVID-19-related telehealth flexibilities. The version of the bill being brought to the floor this week provides for a temporary extension of these policies through the end of 2024. These are the same policies that were included in the omnibus and that have already been extended for 151 days after the end of the public health emergency. Notably, the draft bill would unite the extensions from the PHE and provide a date certain. Although the bill will likely advance in the House this week, it is unlikely to move in the Senate and may foreshadow policy that could be considered in the Lame Duck session of Congress after the election.