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.


Senate Hopes to Consider Slimmed-Down COVID Relief Bill

Senate Republicans are planning to consider a targeted, $500 billion coronavirus relief bill this week if they can garner enough support. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) acknowledges that it has been difficult to reach agreement, especially in an election year. The skinny stimulus package is significantly smaller than the $1 trillion proposal put forth by Senate Republicans last month. The Senate Republican conference has scheduled a call for this morning with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to discuss the timing of a vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has expressed opposition to the use of interim legislation in the absence of a broader deal. Meadows stated last week that progress has been made in negotiations with congressional Democrats, but that an agreement has yet to be reached on funding for state and local governments. The Senate returns from August recess today, while the House is not scheduled to be back in session until next week. It is possible that the slimmed-down proposal could ultimately be attached to a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

White House, Democrats Reach Agreement on Stopgap Spending Bill

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have reached an informal deal to fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown at the end of the fiscal year on September 30. The two sides have agreed on a clean, short-term continuing resolution (CR), the duration of which is still unclear. The stopgap spending measure is expected to extend government funding through December, requiring lawmakers to pass another CR during a lameduck session to fund the government into 2021.

Advisory Panel Releases Draft Vaccine Distribution Recommendations

An advisory group at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released its proposed recommendations for how to prioritize distribution of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. Their draft report, which was released last Tuesday, would prioritize based on who is at risk for contracting coronavirus.

Panel release draft

A virtual public meeting on the recommendations was held on Wednesday, and comments were accepted until Friday, September 4. The committee’s final report will be completed later this month and is intended to be used as a guide for more detailed prioritization plans, which are already being considered by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and state, local, and tribal health authorities.

House to Consider MORE Act this Month

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced that the House will vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884) the week of September 21. The bill would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. It was introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and advanced by his panel last November. It remains unclear whether the proposal could receive consideration in the GOP-controlled Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is a strong supporter of access to hemp but is opposed to broader marijuana reform. Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced the Senate companion legislation to the MORE Act, though presidential candidate Joe Biden has also expressed opposition to broad marijuana reform.

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