What’s the Status of the Infrastructure Packages? Last week, both the bipartisan infrastructure package and the “human infrastructure” reconciliation package were put on pause, and Speaker Pelosi set a new deadline to pass both bills by October 31, 2021. It will be a busy month to achieve agreement across the various wings of the Democratic party. One thing that is clear from this weekend: the overall price tag of the reconciliation bill will come down from $3.5 trillion. Additionally, votes on the two bills are linked together. All stakeholders will be watching and trying to influence how Democrats come together on reconciliation and how much healthcare policy remains in this smaller package.
Debt Limit Still an Issue. Secretary Yellen has announced that the debt limit must be addressed by October 18, 2021. Majority Leader Schumer is expected to bring up a vote on the debt limit this week. However, Senate Republicans may block its passage, which would require 60 votes. Republicans argue that Democrats must pass the debt limit extension on their own if they intend to increase spending by trillions of dollars through the reconciliation package. Democrats could use a reconciliation vehicle to extend the debt limit, but Majority Leader Schumer has indicated that he does not intend to do so. How it all plays out is yet to be seen.
Another Surprise Billing Regulation Is Out. On September 30, 2021, the US Office of Personnel Management and the US Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Labor issued an interim final rule with comment (IFR) entitled Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part II. The IFR implements additional portions of the No Surprises Act, which prohibits balance billing in certain situations effective January 1, 2022. The IFR focuses on the independent dispute resolution process, good faith estimates for uninsured (or self-pay) individuals, the patient-provider dispute resolution process and expanded rights to external review. This IFR does not address the audit process for plans, which was supposed be outlined through regulation by October 1, 2021, and therefore will need to be addressed in future guidance or rulemaking. Stakeholders will have 60 days to comment on this rule once it is published in the Federal Register. Click here to read our +Insight on the IFR.
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