One chamber down. One to go before the August recess.
What Will the Senate Do During Its Last Week in Session? It is likely the Senate will focus on issues outside of health care this week, so the health care community can take a collective breath (at least for those focused on Congress). Although the Senate Finance Committee advanced its prescription drug pricing package last week, it will not be brought to the floor for a vote this week. There is a still a lot of compromise and negotiation that will occur before we see a final package.
So What’s Going to Happen Over the August Recess? Both the House and the Senate advanced a number of major health care proposals over the last few weeks, including surprise billing legislation, some of the extenders and a prescription drug pricing package. However, these policies have yet to pass either chamber and there are still many steps that the bills need to take before they become law. The August recess could present obstacles along this path. Members of Congress will hear directly from constituents when they are home. The pressure may influence positions. On the administration side, we could see the International Pricing Index (IPI) proposed rule. The IPI model is anticipated to test phasing down the Medicare payment amount for selected Part B drugs to more closely align with international prices. According to the Spring Regulatory Agenda, the proposed rule is expected to be published in August 2019. Additionally, we could also see the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, outpatient prospective payment system and inpatient prospective payment system rules very soon.
What Happens After the August Recess? As noted above, there are a number of major health care proposals in the mix. Come September, there could be even more proposals introduced. Regardless, leadership in the House and the Senate, as well as the relevant committees leading surprise billing, prescription drug pricing reforms and extenders, need to come together to resolve differences and potentially settle all their issues into one package. That will take a significant amount of work and time. Meaning, we are still a long way away from a final package. It could be a long and adventurous fall.
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