Congress Has Three Weeks Left to Achieve Massive Cooperation and Compromise. The House has an ambitious agenda for the next three weeks: 1) pass H.R. 3, the Pelosi prescription drug reform bill, 2) fund the government, 3) pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, 4) pass a long-term deal on the healthcare extenders (which can include surprise billing and prescription drug policy reforms), and 5) impeach the President. These are major goals that create incredible pressure that can throw off the process with the slightest provocation, especially as we approach the winter recess deadline.
Healthcare Priority 1: Extenders. In the healthcare space, we are still waiting for a package to come together on the extenders and how they are paid. Paying for the extenders is typically the hard part, but this year Congress has pay-fors (surprise billing and prescription drug reform) available. In theory, this should make it easier to get the extenders across the finish line, but that means Congress has to reach an agreement on surprise billing and prescription drug reforms, which are not without political consequence. We still believe that Congress likely will not let the extender funding slip, but it is not certain a long-term compromise will come together in the next 18 days.
And the Rest of the Agenda.R. 3 is expected to pass during this stretch once a final Congressional Budget Office score comes in. It has no chance of moving in the Senate. So the question that follows the passage of H.R.3 is: can Congress agree to move the consensus prescription drug measures? As for government funding, it is everyone’s goal to fund the government – neither party wants to see a government shutdown. But there is always room for provisions (like the border wall) to upset the entire applecart. And the most divisive measure out there to throw everything off balance is impeachment. Impeachment activities will continue to heat up over the next three weeks, which can impact all the policies that the healthcare community is working on.