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.


COVID IV Negotiations Pushed to July

The White House and congressional Republicans are postponing negotiations over the next coronavirus stimulus legislation until late July, according to administration officials and Republican aides. Lawmakers are currently scheduled to return to Washington on July 21. Senate Republicans are at work drafting a bill that would allow employers who chose among government coronavirus safety guidelines to shield themselves from liability should their customers or employees contract the virus. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) acknowledged that conflicts exist amongst safe-practices guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal, state, and local governmental entities, but that employers should be allowed to determine which guidelines they will follow. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has stated that a liability shield for employers will be included in the next economic stimulus legislation. He has also said that the safe harbor will apply to all employers, including businesses, universities, hospitals, and health care providers, be retroactive to 2019, and provide protection against lawsuits through 2024.

House to Vote on ACA Stabilization Measure by July 4

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the House of Representatives will vote by July 4 on a measure to stabilize the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and encourage more states to expand their Medicaid programs. According to a senior Democratic aide, the package would expand insurance subsidies and be similar to the ACA reform legislation that previously passed the House (H.R.1884). The bill was not taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate.

HELP Solicits Feedback on Pandemic Preparedness Paper

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released a white paper last week titled Preparing for the Next Pandemic. The white paper provides a legislative history, summary of existing assessments, and 20 initial recommendations based on the response thus far to the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper also poses 31 questions to inform the development of future pandemic preparedness legislation. Recommendations and questions are organized into the following categories:

  1. Tests, Treatments, and Vaccines
  2. Disease Surveillance
  3. Stockpiles, Distribution, and Surges
  4. Public Health Capabilities
  5. Improving Coordination of Federal Agencies During a Public Health Emergency

The panel is soliciting feedback from stakeholders, experts, and other members of Congress to aid in the development of legislative proposals, requesting that comments be submitted by June 26. Chairman Alexander’s goal is to pass a bill by the end of this year to prepare the nation for the next pandemic. Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has stated that she is supportive of the Chairman’s effort as long as it does not come at the expense of hampering additional COVID-19 relief.

Cures 2.0 to Address Research, Surveillance, Data Privacy

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) offered further insight into Cures 2.0 during a virtual meeting hosted by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network last week, stating that she and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) are working on provisions to increase medical research and disease surveillance. They also hope to pass measures related to the sharing of health data and patient privacy rights. DeGette believes that some of these ideas are so “self-evident” that she and Rep. Upton are pushing for their inclusion in the next piece of pandemic-response legislation.

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