Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


Key Spending Decisions Needed in Short Session

Congress returns this week with very few legislative days remaining to act on fiscal year (FY) 2015 spending and other legislation important to both parties before the November elections. The House is expected to act first on any potential deal struck to extend federal spending into early December (most likely via a continuing resolution – or CR). In the alternative the House could act unilaterally on a CR as early as this week. This week the House will also take up the following health bills on the suspension calendar: H.R. 4701, the Vector-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, H.R. 4290, the Wakefield Act of 2014, and H.R. 669, the Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act. In addition, the House Republican leadership has alerted members that H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act will likely be taken up under a closed rule. This legislation, related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), would allow individuals to continue to purchase “grandfathered” health insurance in 2014 outside of PPACA exchanges to the extent that such group policies were offered on any date in 2013.

Update on Ebola Crisis

After a trip to Africa, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Thomas Frieden said the window is closing on the ability of governments to sufficiently contain the spread of the Ebola virus and urged nations to respond to the World Health Organization’s recommendation for $490 million in funding to help fight the disease. The CDC Director said that the experimental vaccine developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/GlaxoSmithKline, which is subject to human testing beginning this week, may give hope to the future availability of a potential solution, but cautioned that the outcome is uncertain. Also, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) awarded an initial $25 million to accelerate development of the drug ZMapp as a treatment to neutralize the virus. In addition, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is urging Congress to establish an “Urgent and Emerging Threat Fund” of over $68 million under the CR discussed above to give the CDC more resources to address the crisis. House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats have requested that a hearing be held on the Ebola crisis.

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