POLICY BRIEFINGS


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.


THIS WEEK'S BRIEFING - NOVEMBER 2, 2020


Bera, Bucshon Introduce Legislation to Offset Fee Schedule Cuts


Reps. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) and Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) have introduced legislation (H.R. 8702) that would provide support for physicians scheduled to see cuts to their Medicare reimbursement rates next year. The Holding Providers Harmless from Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020 would provide relief payments for most Medicare physician services to mitigate the reimbursement cuts resulting from a budget neutrality adjustment under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). The legislation would keep pay increases to office/outpatient evaluation and management services set to begin in January 2021 in place while ensuring that other services are not reduced in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.


Pelosi, Mnuchin Continue to Spar Over COVID Relief


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are still at odds over a new coronavirus stimulus bill. In a letter to the administration last week, Pelosi outlined seven areas of continuing disagreements – national virus testing and tracing program, funding for state and local governments, school safety measures, child-care funding, tax credits for working families, unemployment insurance, and workplace protections and liability issues – while Mnuchin faulted Pelosi’s “all or nothing” approach for the stimulus bill hold up. The chances of COVID relief being passed during the forthcoming lame-duck session may depend on the outcome of the election, with some lawmakers arguing that Senate Republicans may not support any additional stimulus if Democratic candidate Joe Biden is elected president.


Amy Coney Barrett Confirmed to Supreme Court


The Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last week by a vote of 52-48. Every Senate Democrat voted against the nominee, as did Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who objected to the confirmation coming so close to the presidential election. Barrett took the judicial oath on Tuesday, becoming the 115th justice. She will immediately assume her new responsibilities and in the coming weeks is expected to participate in a case (California v. Texas) that will rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Senate Finance Continues Investigation into Organ Transplant System


The Senate Finance Committee is continuing its investigation into the nation’s organ transplantation system, asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for details about its oversight of organ procurement organizations (OPOs). A joint letter from Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) expresses concerns about gaps in federal oversight that could result in thousands of life-saving organs going unrecovered every year. The lawmakers cite several inspector general audits and other reports regarding the adequacy of patient safety standards. The Committee also shared the answers it received from the United Network for Organ Sharing in response to a previous inquiry from the panel.


Oversight Committee Releases Details on HHS PR Campaign


The House Oversight and Reform Committee has released a series of documents related to its investigation of the administration’s $250 million ad campaign for coronavirus public health messaging. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chair James Clyburn (D-S.C.), and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) argue that the funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were inappropriately used to politically benefit President Trump. HHS responded that the contract is currently on hold pending a review.



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SERVICES




BRIEFING ARCHIVE


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