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.


Ebola Response from DoD and CDC

After the Department of Defense (DoD) requested reprogramming authority for a total of $1 billion in response to the Ebola national security threat, the House Appropriations Committee approved the request only if DoD provides Congress with additional information including the agency’s allocation of funds and the goals and timeline for the mission. Final approval will not be completed until three other defense–related committees also give their approval. Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) said “The Ebola outbreak is clearly a crisis that has reached a level of international health and security concern. I agree that additional funding is now necessary to help the affected region and to stop the spread of this horrible and rapidly growing epidemic....” When finalized, the $1 billion will be added to the $175 million in federal funds already allocated for Ebola and the $88 million included in the CR that Congress approved before the recess. The urgency of the funding was highlighted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in releasing their estimate that any delay of a swift and strong international response to the Ebola epidemic could result in up to 1.4 million individuals could becoming infected in Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of next January.

Lame Duck Health Agenda Shaping Up

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has expressed his intent to try to include an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) from October 1, 2015 to October 1, 2019 in any year-end omnibus appropriations or tax extenders bill that may be taken up when Congress returns after the November elections. There may be push-back, however, given the bipartisan letter sent to governors by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee requesting responses to six detailed questions relating to whether and how CHIP should be extended and what additional policy changes should be made related to that program. The committees requested responses by the end of October. Of note, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that a two year extension of CHIP would cost about $5 billion whereas legislation to permanently replace the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula in the Medicare physician reimbursement system would cost about $130 billion. The omnibus or tax extenders measures are also being eyed by supporters of the permanent SGR fix to accomplish that goal this year. If Republicans take control of the Senate, the political calculus for legislative action on these and other health issues will likely be recalculated in the lame-duck session.

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