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.


Appropriations Progress as FY19 Approaches

President Trump signed the first appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2019 last week. H.R. 5895 will fund Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water Development, and the Legislative Branch.

The Senate voted to advance the conference report for its second minibus package (H.R. 6157), which will fund the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, by a vote of 93-7. Six Republicans senators – Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), David Perdue (Ga.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.) – joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in opposing the legislation. The bill also includes a continuing resolution (CR) through December 7 to avert any partial government shutdown. The CR will extend funding for any appropriations measures not enacted before current funding expires at the end of the fiscal year on September 30. The House is expected to vote on the package on Wednesday, after which it will be sent to the President’s desk for his signature. President Trump has yet to say whether he will sign the bill into law and continues to attack the lack of funding for the construction of a border wall. With the CR through December 7, Congress hopes to postpone any debate over immigration until after the midterm elections.

Lawmakers had hoped to pass a third minibus containing funds for Interior-Enviornment, Financial Services, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration, but attempts to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills have stalled.

This Week’s Congressional Agenda

The House will be back in session on September 25. The chamber plans to consider the following health-related pieces of legislation on Tuesday: H.R. 6378, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2018, S. 3479, the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2018, S. 2554, the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act, and S. 2553, the Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018.

The Senate returns today, with votes scheduled on executive nominations. The chamber has been wrapped up in negotiations on Judiciary Committee hearings with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers. Ford is scheduled to testify before the Committee on Thursday, and a vote of Kavanaugh’s nomination that had been scheduled for today has been cancelled. Although Republican senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), and Bob Corker (Tenn.) remain undecided, other GOP lawmakers, alongside President Trump, remain supportive of the nominee. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) became the first of the undecided red-state Democrats to formally announce her opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination, citing concerns with his views on anonymous campaign donations.

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