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 - MARCH 21, 2022


Omnibus Signed into Law as WH Continues Push for More COVID Relief


President Joe Biden has signed into law the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill funding the federal government through September and providing $13.6 billion in humanitarian and security assistance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The bill does not contain the $15.6 billion in emergency coronavirus spending requested by the White House. The administration continues to push lawmakers to pass additional COVID-19 emergency funding, arguing that Congress’ stalemate on additional pandemic relief threatens access to affordable COVID therapies and treatments. The White House stated last week that the U.S. has canceled orders for COVID-19 treatments due to the lapse in funding and that the administration still seeks the $22.5 billion initially requested to combat COVID. Officials have warned that the allocation of monoclonal antibody treatments to states will be reduced by 30% beginning this week, and treatment supplies could be completely exhausted by May. The supply of pre-exposure treatment for the immunocompromised will run out in July, and the federal supply of anti-viral pills will be exhausted by September. The White House has also cautioned that a lack of additional funding would impact the ability to purchase additional vaccine doses to cover all Americans if a fourth dose is eventually recommended, and that testing capacity will be negatively impacted by the failure to provide more emergency funds. Senate Republicans have been urging the administration to be more transparent in accounting for the COVID funds that have been previously appropriated, what additional funds are needed, and how long those funds will last. GOP senators have also requested further details about the government’s stockpile of vaccines, tests, and therapeutics.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued an apology to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and administration adviser Anthony Fauci for the officials having to personally appeal to lawmakers for the funding. She stated that Democrats are still struggling to decide how to offset the cost of additional COVID spending. The House of Representatives is not scheduled to be in session this week. Republicans will head to Florida for their annual issues conference from March 23-25. During the retreat lawmakers will focus on determining the GOP agenda for the months leading up to the November midterm elections.


HRSA Reporting Period 2 Opens As COVID Uninsured Program Scaled Back


The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has been administering the Provider Relief Fund (PRF), which has provided relief to providers for COVID-related expenses and losses as well as reimbursement for certain claims related to the uninsured. The PRF Reporting Portal is currently open for Reporting Period 2 until March 31, 2022, for providers who received one or more PRF payments exceeding $10,000, in aggregate, from July 1 to December 31, 2020. Given the lack of additional funding, HRSA has announced that it will soon stop accepting claims for the uninsured. On March 22, 2022, at 11:59 pm ET, the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program will stop accepting claims for testing and treatment due to a lack of sufficient funds. On April 5, 2022, at 11:59 pm ET, the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program and COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund will also stop accepting vaccination claims due to a lack of sufficient funds. Finally, entities have until May 2, 2022, to request reconsideration of the PRF Phase 4 and American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural Reconsideration payments – a process intended for providers who believe their Phase 4/ARP Rural payment was not calculated correctly.


Young Confirmed as OMB Director, WH Budget Request Expected Next Week


The Senate confirmed Shalanda Young as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last week in a 61-36 vote. Young has been serving as Acting Director of OMB since March of last year after being confirmed by the Senate as OMB Deputy Director. President Joe Biden is expected to send his budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2023 to Congress on March 28. The annual budget document will outline the administration’s priorities and legislative proposals for the coming year and is meant to guide Congress as appropriators begin negotiations on FY 2023 spending legislation.


Capitol Hill and White House to Slowly Reopen to Public


Details about the reopening of the Capitol building have emerged following a meeting between staff for the Senate Rules Committee, House Administration Committee, Senate and House Sergeants at Arms, and the U.S. Capitol Police. Reports indicate that the Capitol building will begin to open in three phases starting on March 28, when the official visitor limit will be increased from 9 to 15. Staff-led tours will also resume that day, and school groups will be allowed back into the building. The Capitol Visitor Center will begin a limited reopening on May 30, with a full reopening of the Capitol expected around Labor Day. This tentative plan is subject to the U.S. Capitol Police addressing current staff shortage issues. Public tours of the White House will resume on April 15, 2022. The Biden-Harris administration plans to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will adjust the availability of public tours as necessary to adhere to the latest public health guidance.


Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings This Week


Ketanji Brown Jackson will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her Supreme Court confirmation hearings this week. On Monday, Brown and panel members will provide opening statements. Following two days of questions with the Supreme Court nominee, the Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from outside experts on Thursday. Democrats are pushing for a bipartisan vote on Brown’s nomination, with Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in talks with approximately six Republican senators with a chance of supporting her confirmation to the Supreme Court.


China Competition Bills Expected to Move to Conference Committee


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took the first procedural step necessary in establishing a conference committee to iron out the differences between the House- and Senate-passed China competition bills (H.R. 4521/S. 1260). The legislation aims to enhance U.S. research and development on advanced manufacturing, strengthen science and technology education, and prevent China from recruiting American scientists and academics. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has said he wishes to see a final vote on a bill before Memorial Day weekend.


HELP Advances Pandemic Preparedness Package


The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted 20-2 to favorably report the PREVENT Pandemics Act. The bill (S. 3799) aims to strengthen the nation’s pandemic preparedness and response capabilities. The bipartisan measure contains 37 bills and input from 33 lawmakers, including legislation from Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to authorize the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). During the bill markup, the committee adopted several bipartisan amendments to

  • prohibit federally funded research on dangerous pathogens in nations deemed a “country of concern” by the director of national intelligence;
  • publish a list of anticipated economic impacts 30 days after the declaration of a public health emergency;
  • support continuing education for health professionals in rural areas;
  • identify opportunities for private-sector engagement to respond to an emerging threat or pandemic;
  • modify a sentence on a study to include nonprofit manufacturing;
  • increase U.S. manufacturing for certain critical antibiotics; and
  • set aside at least 5% of the money in the social determinants of health program for tribal health.
The panel also agreed to an amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to provide $177 million for the Nursing Corps.



March 21, 2022: | Page 1 Page 2

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BRIEFING ARCHIVE


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