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.


John McCain, War Hero and Senate Maverick, Dies at 81

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) died at the age of 81 on Saturday. Senator McCain had served his country for sixty years as a naval aviator, war hero, congressman, senator, and presidential candidate. His naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. McCain’s family had announced that the senator had decided to discontinue medical treatment for his brain cancer the previous day. McCain was diagnosed in July 2017 with glioblastoma and had been absent from the Hill since last December. He was the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and one of the strongest Republican critics of President Trump in the Senate. His legislative legacy includes initiatives regarding defense and national security, human rights, veterans’ services, campaign finance reform, and government reform. Congress named the National Defense Authorization Act, which became law earlier this month, after Senator McCain. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced his plan to introduce a resolution to rename the Senate Russell office building after Senator McCain. Sen. McCain will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, a rare honor, and receive a full-dress funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral before his burial at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will appoint McCain’s replacement, who will serve until the 2020 election.; the winner of that election will serve the remainder of McCain’s term through 2022.

Senate Approves FY19 Funding for DOD, HHS

The Senate approved a spending package (H.R. 6157) that combines appropriations measures for the departments of Defense (DOD), Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education by a vote of 85-7 last week. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) opposed the $854 billion bill. Leadership had previously agreed to avoid partisan amendments from both sides. Lawmakers approved several health-related amendments, including one from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) that would provide $1 million for a firefighter cancer registry, and another from Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) that would appropriate an additional $2.8 million to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The chamber also agreed to a measure from Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that would require direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements to disclose the price of prescription drugs. Lawmakers rejected a push from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to attach a provision that would block federal funding for Planned Parenthood by a vote of 45-48; Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) joined Democrats in opposition to the amendment. A similar provision is included in the HHS funding bill that has cleared the House Appropriations Committee. An amendment from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that would have allowed the Senate to intervene and defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a Texas lawsuit, which has the potential to impact consumer health insurance protections, was not brought for a vote. The Senate has now passed nine of the 12 appropriations bills needed to fund the government past the end of the fiscal year on September 30, but the spending legislation must still be reconciled with the House before it is sent to the President for his signature. The Senate is expected to complete work on the confirmation of 17 judicial and executive nominees before adjourning until after Labor Day.

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