McDermottPlus Healthcare Preview: Week of January 4

WELCOME TO 2021 AND THE 117TH CONGRESS!

  • THIS IS THE FIRST WEEK OF THE 117TH CONGRESS. The new Congress was sworn in yesterday, January 3, kicking off the beginning of the 117th Congress. Nancy Pelosi was reelected to her post as Speaker of the House for the 117th Congress with the closest vote in recent history, underscoring the razor thin margin with which Democrats control the chamber. Today, the House will consider its rules package for the 117th Congress. The rules changes include, but are not limited to, effectively exempting climate change and COVID-19 legislation from “pay-as-you-go” requirements, implementing a vote-by-proxy system and changing the motion to recommit processes. In the Senate, however, things are still up in the air. Due to the runoff races in Georgia, it is still unclear which party will be in control of the chamber. With the Georgia vote tomorrow, we will find out very soon who is in control of the Senate and have a better idea of what the Biden Administration will be able to accomplish.
  • ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE. On Wednesday, Congress meets in a joint session to formally count the votes of the Electoral College. There may be some objections from Republicans on the votes submitted by the states. Although the outcome is already determined, Republicans can use this opportunity to support President Trump and their base, and also slow the process down. Ultimately, we are looking at a new President Biden come January 20, 2021.
  • ICYMI. If you took an early holiday, we wanted to make sure you saw a few things that rounded up the end of the 2020. First, Congress passed (and the President eventually signed) the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 that funds the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2021, includes a COVID-19 relief package, includes surprise billing and transparency provisions, and reauthorizes or extends the healthcare extenders. For a detailed summary of the healthcare-related pieces, please see our complete summary here. In addition, a federal court granted the pharmaceutical industry a restraining order against the Trump Administration’s Most Favored Nation regulation that would have linked Medicare drug prices to lower international drug prices. This action puts a 14-day halt on the rule, while the judge considers a preliminary injunction.

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