McDermottPlus Healthcare Preview: Week of September 14

Sixteen Days to Fund the Government.

  • WHAT DOES CONGRESS ACCOMPLISH OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS? Over the next few weeks, there will be a flurry of activity tied to the end of the fiscal year for the federal government, September 30, 2020. At this time, a COVID-19 relief package does not appear to be on the table. However, Congress needs to act on a funding measure by September 30 to avoid a government shutdown. It is unlikely that there will be a government shutdown due to the political fallout both parties would face. What is likely is that we will see a continuing resolution (CR) come together over the next two weeks. It remains to be seen how long the CR will be, when it will come together and whether there are opportunities for other policy provisions to be attached to it.

If the Senate can move a “clean” CR quickly with no other policies attached, it will be difficult for the House to add other policy items. There will also be limited vehicles for policy after the CR, as members of Congress will be heading home for the election. This means the healthcare extenders (a slate of healthcare programs that need their funding reauthorized) may have to wait until after the election to be addressed. The healthcare extenders are currently set to expire on November 30, 2020. We watch to see if the narrative on the CR and potential policy riders shifts over the next few weeks.

  • EXECUTIVE ORDER ON PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING. On Sunday evening, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) on Lowering Drug Prices by Putting America First that would allow Medicare to pay the same price as other countries for Part B and Part D drugs. The EO directs the Secretary of HHS to test a payment model and implement rulemaking allowing Medicare to pay the “most-favored-nation price” for certain high-cost drugs and biologics in Medicare Part B, and for Part D drugs and biologics that lack sufficient competition. It is unlikely that the Administration will issue any rules implementing the EO ahead of the election. Rather, it will be a messaging tool for the President on the campaign trail.

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