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 - JANUARY 24, 2022


Build Back Better to Be Scaled Back, Broken Down


President Joe Biden conceded last week that his $2 trillion economic agenda will need to be significantly scaled back and broken down to win enough support for passage amidst continued opposition from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). The President specifically highlighted that provisions in the Build Back Better reconciliation package to lower prescription drug prices and expand support for childcare and the elderly would make the economy more productive and lower costs for Americans. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) responded that while the bill may be more limited than initially proposed by congressional Democrats, she still hopes that the policies will be contained in a significant tax and spending bill moving forward. The Senate and the House of Representatives are scheduled to be in recess until January 31.


President Pushes for Rules Change, Voting Rights Bill Fails in Senate


President Joe Biden’s push to pass voting rights legislation failed last week amid a party split and GOP opposition. Senate Democrats forced a vote on a one-time change to the chamber’s filibuster rules to create a pathway specifically for passage of voting rights legislation. Democrats had sought to pass a bill combining the Freedom to Vote Act, to revise elections and campaign finance laws, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The rules change, which would have required a simple majority vote, was rejected 52-48, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting to uphold the 60-vote threshold.


Appropriators Work to Meet Feb. 18 Government Funding Deadline


Appropriators are still working to negotiate a spending framework to allow a roughly $1.5 trillion omnibus appropriations package to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2022 to move forward by February 18, the expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has stated that the appropriations measure may also carry more money for additional COVID-19 relief. Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), however, has cast doubt on the possibility of a mid-February omnibus, stating that progress is being made but that it will be a difficult deadline to meet.


Lawmakers Ask CMS to Reevaluate Premium Increase


Agroup of House Democrats led by Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) have sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) asking the agency to reduce is planned increase of 14.5% to Medicare Part B premiums following the agency’s proposal to limit coverage of the Alzheimer’s treatment Aduhelm. Aduhelm was originally priced at $56,000 annually. Biogen announced late last year that it would cut the price to $28,000. CMS’ preliminary coverage decision would limit Medicare coverage of Aduhelm to patients enrolled in qualifying clinical trials. The letter was signed by 32 other lawmakers.


Murray Requests Permanent OSHA Standard for Health Care Workers


Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) urging the administration to issue a permanent standard to protect health care workers, and to take immediate action to secure strong workplace protections for all workers. Murray outlines the continuing danger of the highly contagious Omicron variant and asks OSHA “to use its authority to ensure robust protections for health care workers and all workers who are at risk of COVID-19 infection in their workplace.” OSHA recently withdrew the non-recordkeeping portions of its emergency temporary standard (ETS) for health care workers but announced that it intends to continue to work to issue a final standard to protect health care workers from COVID-19 related hazards as it also considers broader infectious diseases rulemaking.


Wyden to Investigate Bristol-Myers Tax Practices


Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is requesting details from Bristol-Myers Squibb about reports that the company engaged in a tax avoidance strategy using offshore subsidiaries. A 2012 transaction by the company shifting its intellectual property profits to Ireland resulted in a tax rate reduction of more than 30 percentage points. The letter is a part of an ongoing investigation by Sen. Wyden into pharmaceutical manufacturers’ tax practices and the use of loopholes to avoid paying taxes on prescription drug sales. Bristol-Myers has said that it will cooperate with the request for information.


Democrats Push for Testing Coverage, Affordability


Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Scott Peters (D-Calif.) are asking the administration to provide full Medicare reimbursement to beneficiaries who purchase at-home COVID-19 tests. The White House recently moved to require commercial insurers to cover the cost of at-home diagnostic test kits. In related news, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) has sent letters to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), COVID-19 test manufactures, and retailers asking that at-home tests be sold at-cost. The senator cites reports that the tests can cost as little as $2 to manufacturer but can retail for $12 or more.



January 24, 2022: | Page 1 Page 2 Page 3

SERVICES




BRIEFING ARCHIVE


 -  2022


 +  2021


 +  2020


 +  2019


 +  2018