Where do we stand with only three weeks until the July 4th break?
The Focus is Back on Surprise Billing. Surprise billing will not be going away any time soon. In fact, with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finding that publicly popular surprise billing legislation saves between $9 billion and $25 billion over ten years, it will be VERY difficult for Congress to not move legislation on the subject by the end of the year. The Energy and Commerce Committee will be examining the issue this week during its hearing on Wednesday. This will be the third hearing on surprise billing this Congress. Additionally, we wait to see next steps from HELP on their Cost Containment discussion draft —specifically, when they have a hearing on surprise billing, how they react to stakeholder feedback that was due last week, and if there are any new measures that are introduced into the next iteration of the bill.
But what about the extenders? Last week’s hearings on the issues showed significant bipartisan support for the extenders. However, how the extender package moves remains an open question. There are many provisions that Congress and stakeholders alike want to move forward, but they all cost money. Putting together a package is easy, but paying for it is an entirely different thing.
And It All Comes Down to Money. When it comes to any bill – health care or another sector – it all comes down to costs and savings. This year, Congress has a unique situation in which they have a number of bills that are “pay-fors” – surprise billing (noted above), repealing or delaying the implementation of the safe harbor rule, and some prescription drug pricing measures. However, we also have the bills that cost money – most notably the extenders. Over the next few weeks, there will be an ongoing game in figuring out how the payfors and bills that cost money are matched. This will be to: 1) reduce costs to the federal deficit, and 2) help garner bipartisan support on a budget neutral or not so costly bill. The horse trading will continue through the summer and play out as additional health care packages are introduced – most notably the awaited Senate Finance package, which could be coming as early as next week.
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