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.


Congress Nears Deadline for Avoiding Shutdown

Congress has through Friday, September 30th to finalize negotiations and pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open through the start of fiscal year (FY) 2017. Party leadership have reached an agreement on some of the contentious issues that had previously stalled talks on the short-term spending bill, like the inclusion of Planned Parenthood language with funding to combat the Zika virus, and whether and how to offset the legislation. Republicans agreed to allow federal dollars to go to Planned Parenthood’s partner clinic in Puerto Rico – Profamilias – and Democrats agreed to minor offsets to pay for the funding package. The package would provide $1.1 billion in Zika aid, and includes $400 million in offsets from previously appropriated unused funds for Ebola response and Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges that were never established. The CR would extend FY 2016 spending levels through December 9, leaving a longer-term deal to be passed during a lame duck post-election session. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that a cloture vote on a clean CR would take place this Tuesday. The short-term funding bill includes $37 million in new funding to combat the opioid addiction epidemic, which will allow for implementation of some provisions in the recently passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). Democrats, however, have threatened to reject the bill due to the lack of emergency funding to address the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich. While the Senate has taken the lead on government funding, the chamber has been consulting with the House throughout negotiations. Although the House traditionally authors the first version of spending bills, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has faced difficulty in getting members of his party to agree on the timing of the CR and spending levels. In anticipation of the CR, the House Rules Committee has already approved a special rule some refer to as “martial law,” also known as same-day authority, to allow House leadership to bring legislation to the floor the same day it is advanced by the Rules Committee. The Administration, however, has begun preparations in case of a government shutdown. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) held a conference call on Friday with federal agency leadership to begin planning should a lapse in appropriations occur.

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