IT’S THE MOST STRESSFUL TIME OF THE YEAR.
- WHAT IS IN THE YEAR END PACKAGE? With the government funding December 11th deadline looming, we are expecting that both chambers will vote on a measure to extend government funding through December 18th. This will give Congress one extra week to finalize an omnibus deal that could include a COVID-19 package, the health care extenders, and potentially other health care policy priorities.
- PUSH FOR COVID-19 DEAL. Policymakers are trying to get a COVID-19 package across the finish line. They are feeling the economic pressures, as well as the pressures of giving state and local government funding to be prepared to distribute the coming COVID-19 vaccine. Last week we saw a flurry of activity on a COVID-19 package and we are seeing compromises coming together. In particular, a group of bipartisan Senate and House Members unveiled a “COVID-19 Emergency Relief Framework.” The proposal, costing just over $900 billion, is lower than the House Democratic proposal of $1.9 trillion, but higher than the $519 billion proposal that was being pushed by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY). The outline of the framework identifies that the bill will include $16 billion for COVID-19 vaccines, $160 billion for state and local governments, and $35 billion for the Provider Relief Fund. It is expected that the text of this bill will be released early this week.
- BIDEN ANNOUNCEMENTS. President-elect Joe Biden announced that we would be nominating California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary. Additionally, Biden announced that he picked Rochelle Walensky, an infectious-disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, to direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within HHS. We are still waiting to hear who will be the Administer of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and other key health care positions within HHS.
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