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.


Congress Passes CR to Avert Partial Government Shutdown

Congress approved a two-week continuing resolution (CR) (H.J. Res. 143) last week, averting a partial government shutdown. Funding was set to expire on Dec. 7 for federal agencies under seven appropriations bills, including funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The stopgap spending bill extends funding for approximately a quarter of government operations through December 21, providing lawmakers additional time to negotiate full-fiscal year appropriations. Lawmakers had been scheduled to leave town for the year on December 14.

Work on a funding deal was largely suspended last week for the ceremonies surrounding the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, and negotiations on a funding level for construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall are still ongoing. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had been scheduled to meet with President Trump last week, but the meeting was postponed. The President agreed to sign the CR, but maintains that he will veto any spending bill that does not contain at least $5 billion for a border wall. 

More Congressional Republicans Question White House Drug Pricing Policy

Last week, the House GOP Doctors Caucus met with Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar to question the Secretary about the administration’s recent proposal to tie certain  Medicare Part B drug prices to an international pricing index. Critics of the policy argue that it would result in the importation of the price-fixing that takes place in other nations. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is reportedly in talks with other Senate Republicans about writing a letter to the administration outlining concerns with the proposal. Incoming Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has also recently likened the policy to price controls. According to an HHS spokesperson, the Secretary plans to continue to meet with and talk with members of Congress across the aisle to discuss the proposal.

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