All the Major Healthcare Proposals are in Play, But Assembly is Still Required. Late last week, the Senate Finance Committee released a bipartisan and updated prescription drug and healthcare extender package. The package largely mirrors the earlier Senate Finance Committee prescription drug bill, Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019. The updated package funds the major healthcare extenders, along with other extenders that were not previously included in major discussions, such as the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program. Additionally, House Republicans released their version of prescription drug pricing reforms in the bill H.R. 19. This is seen as an alternative to the Democratic prescription drug package H.R. 3, which will be voted on in the House this week. Following all of this, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Energy and Commerce (E&C) leadership announced a deal on surprise billing. However, the specific details on how they address surprise billing payment disputes are not yet known. Within these four packages – H.R. 3, H.R. 19, the updated Senate Finance Committee prescription drug and extender package, and the HELP-E&C surprise billing deal – is the healthcare deal that can be reached by the end of the year. That final package is likely to be reached by House and Senate leadership, and we watch for signs on what’s in and what’s out.
Medicare For All in the Spotlight. This week, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold the hearing “Proposals to Achieve Universal Health Care Coverage.” This hearing will examine Medicare for All proposals. The key to watching this hearing is how Republicans push and dig into Medicare for All. Republicans believe very strongly that Medicare for All is a political risk for Democrats in the 2020 election. Republicans will use the hearing to make the political case for 2020. This hearing will be an early test of the effectiveness of arguments that will make their way into the presidential race.