Congress is back from recess and now heads into a four week work stretch. The next four weeks will be important to watch for progress on legislation. A number of bills need to be approved by September 30th, the start of the next federal fiscal year, including the extender package (addressing Medicaid DSH allotment reductions and funding to community health centers, among other provisions) and the Older Americans Act reauthorization. Separately, there is movement around prescription drug pricing bills. How these different packages shape up over the next few weeks will set the stage for summer. Remember that with the 2020 election already underway, whatever gets done this summer and early fall will likely be the last large legislative push we see from Congress for the next year.
However, that doesn’t mean the noise will stop. In fact, noise around Medicare for All is only beginning. This week marks the first hearing on Medicare for All. The House Rules Committee will examine H.R. 1384—Medicare for All Act of 2019, which was introduced by Rep. Jayapal (D-WA) in March. The hearing, no doubt, will be two-sided, but we watch to see if substance rises above slogans. Are Republicans able to demonstrate the costs and cuts in payment rates under Medicare for All proposals? Are Democrats able to promote Medicare for All without undermining the ACA? We shall see…
It’s also a big week for CBO. Following the Medicare for All hearing, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will release a report on single-payer health care, though it is not expected to include a formal score/cost estimate of the Medicare for All bill. (Future hearings on the report are expected later this month.) Also, CBO plans to release its updated 10-year baseline budget projections next week. The baseline is a projection of federal spending, revenues, and resulting deficits for the current year and the subsequent 10 years. That baseline serves as a neutral benchmark for measuring the budgetary effects of proposed changes in federal revenues and mandatory spending. The baseline and the assumptions behind it are therefore very important for anyone trying to get legislation passed.
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