They’re back…and heading into the final weeks before the August recess.
What Can Get Done? That’s the key question as we enter into the next four weeks. Congress has been very busy leading up to this stretch, and what gets done in the next four weeks heavily influences what to expect for the fall and really the remainder of the year. First, we have surprise billing. Senator Alexander (R-TN) wants a Senate floor vote on the Lower Health Care Costs Act by the end of July. This remains an ambitious goal. Will the majority consider moving the HELP bill before the Finance Committee acts? And let’s not rule out the House, which is expected to have a mark-up on its surprise billing bill, the “No Surprises Act,” this week. We also await signals on the extender package. With the extenders needing to be addressed by September 30, this stretch could produce the first legislative steps towards that deadline. If progress isn’t made before August recess, it doesn’t bode well for the September deadline. Then we have prescription drug pricing…
Will the Senate Finance Committee Release Its Prescription Drug Package? This is the other key question for the next week. We have heard for months that Senators Grassley (R-IA) and Wyden (D-OR) have been working on a prescription drug package. This package is reported to change the Part D coverage phases, include Medicare Part B reforms, change the Medicaid rebate cap, cap seniors’ annual retail drug spending, and make drug companies pay for a percentage of catastrophic costs. However, there could be provisions within the bill that are hard sells for some Republican Senators who might believe it is a step too far. Members of the Senate Finance Committee are reported to be meeting this week on the package. We will be watching for messaging after that discussion to determine where members stand on the package and clues for timing.
And Let’s Not Rule Out Administration Action. Last week President Trump announced that they are working on an executive order aimed at lowering drug prices by aligning prices with rates abroad. There is no suggested timeline of when this could be coming, but we are expecting the International Pricing Index model to be released in August. Another item to keep in mind is that the CY 2020 Medicare payment rules should be coming out very soon. These include the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, the Outpatient Prospective Payment System and the Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment System, among others. The team at McDermottPlus is following all of them and will keep you posted on when they are out, but most importantly what they say. Be sure to stay tuned in with us on this!
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