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 - MAY 24, 2021


WH Budget Coming This Friday


The President’s fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget proposal is slated to be released on Friday, May 28, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB had previously announced that the budget would be unveiled on May 27. The Washington Post has reported that the budget will not include several health care proposals touted by President Joe Biden on the campaign trail, such as a government-run public health insurance option and provisions to lower the cost of prescription drugs. A White House spokesperson confirmed that the budget will not include any major initiatives that have not already been released. The administration is prioritizing its Build Back Better proposal, which contains trillions in spending for infrastructure and social welfare programs.


CMS Nominee Moves Closer to Confirmation


Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the President’s nominee to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), could see a confirmation vote in the Senate as early as this week. The chamber is scheduled to vote today at 5:30 p.m. on whether to invoke cloture on her nomination, the last procedural vote before a final confirmation vote. Simple majorities are required for both cloture and the final vote. Brooks-LaSure is a former Obama administration health official who helped implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while serving as deputy director for policy at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO). She also chaired President Joe Biden’s health transition team. Earlier in her career, she was a staffer for the House Ways and Means Committee where she helped to draft the ACA while working with HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, who served on the panel during his time in Congress. Her nomination has been slowed due to Republican opposition led by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in protest of the Biden administration’s recent decision to revoke a 1115 Medicaid waiver extension for the state of Texas; the waiver was approved in January by the Trump administration. She appears to have enough support for confirmation; Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) previously joined Democrats in supporting her nomination.


Recently Passed Health Care Legislation


The House of Representatives passed the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act (H.R.1629) last week. The bill would prevent pharmaceutical manufacturers from extending their patent protections on certain orphan drugs and would limit exclusivity for new versions of older drugs. The bill was passed by a vote of 400-23. The administration has stated that the measure is supported by the President. The Senate cleared the TRANSPLANT Act (H.R.941) by voice vote last week. The bill, which was passed by the House in April, would reauthorize the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005. It will now be sent to the President’s desk for his signature.


Sanders to Introduce Health Care Workforce Legislation


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced legislation to address the nation’s health care workforce shortages. The Addressing the Shortage of Doctors Act will add 14,000 Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) slots over the course of 7 years, reserving half of the new slots for training primary care physicians. It would also increase funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) by $1 billion per year for 10 years and permanently authorize the Teaching Health Center GME program.


Cures 2.0 Expected to be Released Next Month


The latest draft of the follow-up legislation to the 21st Century Cures Act is expected to be released in early June, according to the bill’s authors Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.). The measure will be focused on the delivery of cutting edge treatments and will include the President’s proposal for the creation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). It will also include provisions on how to improve pandemic preparedness and increase diversity in clinical trials. DeGette and Upton have begun discussions with their Senate colleagues on the measure. They hope to pass Cures 2.0 by the end of the year but have indicated that the bill could be attached to upcoming Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fee reauthorizations, which expire in September 2022.



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