IS IT FINALLY INFRASTRUCTURE MONTH? Last week a group of bipartisan Senators met with President Biden and reached a deal on an infrastructure package. A framework of the proposal was released last week, which has limited details. However, it does identify that the proposal includes, but is not limited to, eliminating lead service lines and pipes to deliver clean drinking water, connecting every American to reliable high-speed internet, and investing in addressing pollution. The framework would be paid for through a combination of policies, including: tax policies, targeted corporate user fees, redirecting unspent 2020 emergency relief funds, and extending mandatory sequester.
Democrats are trying to advance this bipartisan package, while also advancing a partisan broader infrastructure package that also includes social services, child care, education, and potentially health care. This second package would advance through a reconciliation process, as it is highly unlikely to receive any Republican votes in either the Senate or the House. However, Democrats are walking a fine line to advance both bills. In fact, President Biden had to walk back a statement over the weekend that threatened to veto the bipartisan package if the other reconciliation package did not advance at the same time. Additionally, Democrats need to work to keep the wings of their party in agreement on the details. Ultimately, we are a long way from legislation arriving on the President’s desk, but the development of the bipartisan framework is a critical first step.
SURPRISE MEDICAL BILLING. As early as this week, we could see the publication of the first rule regarding surprise billing. Late last year the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) was signed into law, and included within it were provisions that bar surprise billing in most healthcare settings and establish new transparency requirements. The surprise billing provisions are effective beginning January 1, 2022, but the first rule focusing on payment methodology is expected by July 1, 2021. Two additional rules are expected later this year.
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