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.


Federal Hiring Freeze to be Lifted

The White House announced last week that it will lift President Trump’s federal hiring freeze. The announcement came as a part of guidance ordering federal departments and agencies to submit restructuring plans to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Agencies are directed to begin taking actions to reduce the size of their workforce over the long term, in accordance with the President’s budget outline (which includes cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Agencies were instructed to develop a plan to maximize employee performance by June 30. President Trump had signed an executive order during his first full day in the White House that temporarily halted all non-military federal hiring. The decision had been widely criticized by many who believed that a blanket hiring freeze would impede the government from carrying out its core functions. The freeze’s impact on the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) and its ability to implement the 21st Century Cures Act was of particular concern. Director of the OMB Mick Mulvaney stressed that the federal hiring freeze will be replaced with a strategic plan including more targeted limits for hiring. Mr. Mulvaney has not specified how many of the vacancies that exist in
the federal government will be filled after the freeze is lifted. He explained that the Administration’s plans for restructuring could involve the elimination or consolidation of offices or agencies. These changes would then be included in the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget.

Freedom Caucus Seeks to Avoid Government Shutdown

Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) has offered assurances that conservative Republicans will not act in a way that causes a shutdown of the federal government when the current continuing resolution (CR) expires on April 29. He says that he and his colleagues will be flexible in negotiating the $1 trillion spending bill that will keep the government funded through September 30. Last week, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Seema Verma confirmed that the defunding of Planned Parenthood would be dealt with in the Republican health care bill. This measure could have been a sticking point in the Senate were it to be included in omnibus spending legislation. The House is expected to vote on a funding measure soon after they return from a two week recess on April 25. The federal government is funded through April 28, 2017.

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