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.


Negotiations Begin on Government Funding

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have begun negotiations on a legislative option to avoid another partial government shutdown. The 17 conferees charged with reaching a deal met for the first time last week, but measurable progress has yet to be made. Nevertheless, the lawmakers, led by Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-Texas), have stated that they are optimistic they will reach a compromise.

There was no additional border wall money in the Democrat’s opening offer, but their proposal did include funding for new customs officers and ports of entry technology. President Trump has threatened another government shutdown if the final plan does not include adequate money for a border wall; he is also considering declaring a state of emergency in an attempt to circumvent Congress to build the wall. The President has already said that he does not expect the final compromise to contain sufficient border wall funding.

Funding for agencies impacted by the 35-day partial government shutdown will lapse again on Feb. 16 unless a new spending agreement is reached.

SOTU Scheduled for Feb. 5

President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reached agreement to hold the State of the Union address in the House chamber on Feb. 5. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor last year in Georgia, will give the Democratic response to the President’s speech. Abrams previously served as the Democratic leader of the Georgia General Assembly.

House Dems Investigate Insulin Pricing

Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats have opened an investigation into insulin pricing practices. Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Investigations Subcommittee Chairwoman Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) have written to the three main manufacturers of insulin in the U.S. – Eli Lilly, Novo Nordish, and Sanofi – requesting information about average prices, net profits, and any changes made to products. According to the letter, the cost of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013, and almost doubled between 2012 and 2016. The lawmakers ask the companies if they have attempted to keep generic versions of the products off the market. They request a response by Feb. 13.

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