Congress Is Back in Session. The first thing on Congress’ to-do list is to address government funding. With only three weeks to fund the government before a potential shutdown, Congress needs to work quickly on spending packages. While the House passed ten spending packages prior to the August recess, the Senate still needs to pass its spending packages. Then Congress will need to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions. There is likely to be drama along the way, but with the 2020 election coming up, both parties and chambers have incentives to work towards an agreement. We are certain to have a brief continuing resolution (CR) to give Congress extra time to work out the sticking points. On the health care front, the Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up its fiscal year 2020 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill on Tuesday, September 10.
Various Other Provisions Also Set to Expire September 30. Various other health programs, including Medicaid disproportionate share hospital allotment reductions, community health center funding, and teaching health center funding, also need to be addressed by September 30, or they expire. To date, the House and the Senate have advanced provisions extending these programs in larger health care bills, but none have been enacted. Congress will likely address some of the extenders before September 30. The key question is will the extensions be for as long as the CR or perhaps longer? We will be looking for signals as Congress returns.
More on Prescription Drugs Soon? It has been widely rumored that Speaker Pelosi is working on a prescription drug package that we could see as early as this week. Also this week, we might see the actual language for the Senate Finance Committee’s prescription drug package. The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 was approved by the committee in late July. Although addressing the high costs of prescription drugs is a priority for Republicans, Democrats and the Administration, there still are a lot of issues to work out, and it remains to be seen whether Congress can actually pass a compromise prior to the end of the session.
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