Congress Is Out on Recess
The continuing resolution (CR) was signed into law. Now Congress is out on recess until after the election, which is only 36 days away. The CR includes funding for the government through December 16, 2022. It also includes funding for Ukraine aid and disaster relief. On the healthcare side, it includes a relatively clean reauthorization of the US Food and Drug Administration user fee acts, a temporary extension of certain programs for rural hospitals and an extension of Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico. Congress will enter the lame duck session with several healthcare policies needing to be addressed. Congress will use lame duck to pass an omnibus spending package to fund the government for the remainder FY 2023. As that will be the final bill passed for the 117th Congress, many key policy priorities will be in the mix to be attached to that package.
There are three general categories of policy priorities for lame duck: must-do policies, nice-to-do policies and unlikely policies. Must-do policies are items that Congress must accomplish prior to the new Congress, such as funding the government for the remainder of FY 2023 and addressing healthcare extenders with expiring reauthorizations. Nice-to-do policies are the remaining priorities that have received bipartisan support but have not made it across the finish line yet. These policies also could wait to be reintroduced and pursued in the 118th Congress. In healthcare, these policies could include but are not limited to mental health, telehealth and eliminating certain payment cuts to Medicare.
Congress will also address these legislative priorities against the background of COVID-19. The COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) is set to expire in mid-October 2022. The Biden Administration has continually promised to give 60 days’ notice prior to ending the PHE. Thus, we expect that the COVID-19 PHE will be renewed in October and extend to mid-January 2023. However, in mid-November 2022, stakeholders will be looking for signs from the Biden Administration about whether it intends to continue the COVID-19 PHE beyond the mid-January timeframe.
The Healthcare Preview will be going on break and will return on November 7, just before the election. In the meantime, we will be developing election and lame duck content. Please stay tuned for more!