Healthcare Preview for the Week of: March 4, 2024 - McDermott+Consulting

Healthcare Preview for the Week of: March 4, 2024

Big Week in Congress

It is finally healthcare week in the 118th Congress. Congress has produced an agreement to fund six of the dozen outstanding appropriations bills and should avoid the partial government shutdown pending on Friday. To that end, the text of a minibus package was released last night. It is expected to reach the House floor Wednesday and face Senate consideration Thursday.

As a recap, the continuing resolution (CR) that passed on Friday, March 1, extended the two-tiered deadlines from March 1 to March 8, and from March 8 to March 22. The package released last night includes funding for Agriculture-FDA, Military Construction-VA, Energy-Water and Transportation-HUD (whose deadlines have been extended to March 8), along with the Interior and Commerce-Justice-Science bills (which are part of the March 22 deadline batch), through the end of the current fiscal year (September 30, 2024). The package includes healthcare extenders through the end of this calendar year. It also includes several notable healthcare policies, such as certain provisions from the SUPPORT Act, a 1.68% reduction to the 3.37% cut to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule conversion factor, and extension of the alternative payment models incentive payments at a lower level of 1.88% for another year (for performance year 2024, affecting payments in 2026). The package does not, however, address many other healthcare policies that are ripe for congressional action. Specifically, it does not include transparency provisions, pharmacy benefit manager reforms, Medicare site neutral payment policies or drug pricing competition.

If all goes smoothly this week, Congress should act before Friday, March 8, when the current CR ends. The focus will then shift to negotiating the remaining funding bills, including US Department of Health and Human Services, for which funding expires March 22.

Then we shift our attention to the fall for the next action on the remaining healthcare priorities. Any policies that did not make the cut in these funding bills could be in play in lame duck.

We also are watching how healthcare plays into the State of the Union this week.

Needless to say, a busy week!

Today’s Podcast

Debbie Curtis and Rodney Whitlock join Julia Grabo to discuss the provisions in the small healthcare package that will be included with funding for the departments facing deadlines this Friday, March 8.