This week in Washington: Congress gets organized for next Congress; House passes health care bills; COVID-19 vaccine is the talk of the town.

House

House Passes 10 Health Care Bills
On Nov. 17, the House passed 10 health care-related bills that include legislation to support new research into health disparities, improvements to food and drug labeling, and a new $10 million grant program for trauma centers that intervene in cyclical violence. The legislation also provides $1.5 billion annually in grants to states and tribal organizations to support substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and prevention, as well as new tools and authorities to prevent the illegal distribution of controlled substances. All of the bills were passed by voice vote and now must be considered by the Senate.

The House passed the following bills:

  • H.R. 4499, the NIMHD Research Endowment Revitalization Act of 2020, authorizes the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to facilitate research on minority health disparities through research endowments at current or former centers of excellence.
  • H.R. 5668, the Making Objective Drug Evidence Revisions for New Labeling Act of 2020 or the MODERN Labeling Act of 2020, allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require modifications of outdated labeling for certain generic drugs to ensure labels have complete and accurate information. The bill would require FDA to report any actions taken under this new authority to update labeling for covered drugs, including the number of drugs, description of the changes and the rationale, as well as any FDA recommendations to modify the program.
  • H.R. 4712, the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act, closes a loophole in the Orphan Drug Act by requiring drug manufacturers seeking orphan drug designations under the rarely used cost recovery pathway to demonstrate the absence of any reasonable expectation of the costs they incur in developing and making those drugs available in the U.S. for such disease or condition. The legislation requires FDA and the manufacturer to take into account the sales of all of the manufacturer’s drugs developed under the same orphan drug designation.
  • H.R. 2466, the State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act of 2020, authorizes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) State Opioid Response Grants program to align with the grant authority provided through the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill also authorizes support for state actions to address stimulant use.
  • H.R. 2281, the Easy Medication Access and Treatment for Opioid Addiction Act or the Easy MAT for Opioid Addiction Act, would require the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to allow a practitioner to dispense up to a three-day supply of medication-assisted treatment. This practice is intended to relieve potential acute withdrawal symptoms while the individual awaits longer-term treatment.
  • H.R. 2117, the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research Act of 2020 or the FASTER Act of 2020, would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand the collection of information related to the prevalence of food allergies for specific allergens and to include that information in reports to Congress. The bill would also amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to include sesame as a major allergen and allow FDA, through regulation, to add other food ingredients as major allergens based on the prevalence and severity of allergic reactions to the food ingredient. Additionally, the bill would require FDA to include patient experience data on treatments for patients with food allergies in its reports on patient experience data.
  • H.R. 5855, the Bipartisan Solution to Cyclical Violence Act of 2020, would create a grant program at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support trauma centers with violence intervention and violence prevention programs. Program support would be provided to conduct research to reduce the incidence of re-injury and re-incarceration caused by intentional violent trauma.
  • H.R. 3878, the Block, Report, And Suspend Suspicious Shipments Act of 2020, creates additional requirements for drug manufacturers and distributors who discover a suspicious order for controlled substances. In addition to reporting a suspicious order of controlled substances to DEA, a manufacturer or distributor must also exercise due diligence, decline to fill the order or series of orders, notify DEA of each suspicious order or series of orders and the indicators that led to the belief that filling such orders would be a violation. These requirements would become effective one year following enactment.
  • H.R. 4806, the Debarment Enforcement of Bad Actor Registrants Act of 2020 or the DEBAR Act of 2020, would amend the Controlled Substances Act to allow the Attorney General to prohibit any registrant from manufacturing, distributing or dispensing a controlled substance or a list I chemical if that registrant meets or has met any of the conditions for suspension or revocation of registration, or has a history of prior suspension or revocations.
  • H.R. 4812, the Ensuring Compliance Against Drug Diversion Act of 2019, terminates the controlled substance registration of any registrant if the registrant dies, ceases legal existence, discontinues business or professional practice or surrenders registration. A registrant who ceases legal existence or discontinues business is required to notify DEA. Registrants must receive written consent from DEA in order to assign or transfer a registration. Registrants are also required to return certain documentation if a registrant’s work is discontinued.

Senate

Wyden Presses UnitedHealth for Details on Mental Health Coverage Shortfalls
On Nov. 19, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to health insurance company UnitedHealth requesting it disclose details about its behavioral health business, which has been subject to ongoing class action litigation for improperly denying coverage for mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) care. Sen. Wyden requested more information on factors that are driving revenue and profit growth for UnitedHealth in its behavioral health business. The letter also asks for more information about allegations that UnitedHealth directed at least one customer to Medicaid rather than covering the care itself, and whether such practices are widespread at the company. Additionally, the letter seeks details about subsidiaries, affiliates and contractors that UnitedHealth may use to administer behavioral health care coverage for third-party health plans. Find the letter here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

This week in Washington: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced he is waiting to see who will become the next House speaker before working on another COVID-19 stimulus package; Senate Appropriations Committee releases Republican draft proposals for FY 2021.

House

Minority Leader McCarthy Will Wait for Next House Speaker to Negotiate COVID-19 Relief
On Nov. 12, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced he is waiting to see who will become the next House speaker before working on another COVID-19 stimulus package. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for passing a fourth stimulus package during Congress’s lame-duck session.

Ways and Means Chairman Neal: CMS Needs to Reinstate Nursing Home Staff Trainings
On Oct. 30, House Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) wrote a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stating that CMS should reinstate its 75-hour nursing home staff training requirements and publicly report how many current staff have not met that requirement. Neal and eight other members want CMS to reinstate the staff training and physician oversight requirements that CMS waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing facilities are better able to prevent or contain COVID-19 when they have higher staff ratios and highly trained staff.

Senate

Senate Appropriations Committee Releases Republican Draft Proposals for Fiscal Year 2021
On Nov. 10, the Senate Appropriations Committee majority (Republican) released their draft appropriations bills. These bills have not yet gone through the regular committee process. The current continuing resolution funds the government through Dec. 11. It is unclear whether Congress will fund the government for the full year or do a continuing resolution into next year and the new Congress. Find more information here.

Sen. Murray Tells Secretaries of Education, Labor and HHS to Preserve All Records
On Nov. 10, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) sent letters to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar reminding them to comply with the Federal Records Act (FRA) and preserve all records as the end of the Trump administration approaches. Sen. Murray stressed to the Secretaries that violating the FRA can disqualify them from future federal office and reminded them that they have an obligation to inform the Archivist of any actual, impending or threatened unlawful action against records at their agency. Find the letter here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

This week in Washington: Washington’s focus has been on the presidential and Senate races.

House

Neal, Pallone Tell CMS to Not Ease Physician-Owned Hospital Restrictions
On Oct. 21, the House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) and Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to voice opposition to a provision in CMS’s proposed hospital outpatient pay rule that loosens restrictions on physician-owned hospitals. Neal and Pallone added that the proposal goes against a moratorium on the expansion of physician-owned hospitals that Congress put in place to counter concerns. They also were concerned about physician-owned hospitals’ picking patients selectively, self-referring, increasing costs and utilization, and hurting the quality of care.

Administration

CMS Announces Medicare A and B Deductibles and Part B Premium
On November 6, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Medicare Part A and B deductibles and premiums for 2021. The Medicare Part A inpatient deductible that beneficiaries will pay when admitted to the hospital is $1,484 in 2021, an increase of $76 from $1,408 in 2020. The majority of Medicare beneficiaries pay no Part A premium. The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees will be $148.50 in 2021, an increase of $3.90 from $144.60 in 2020. The annual deductible for Medicare Part B beneficiaries is $203 in 2021, an increase of $5 from $198 in 2020.

Exchange Rule for Plan Year 2022 Under Review by OMB
On Nov. 5, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reviewed the proposed annual exchange rule for the 2022 plan year that outlines key marketplace policies, including network adequacy, actuarial value, the open enrollment window and the auto-enrollment process.

CMS, Treasury Approves Waiver Letting GA Exit Healthcare.gov in 2023
On Nov. 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Treasury approved Georgia’s request to exit healthcare.gov, take over eligibility determinations and rely on its own agents, brokers and insurance carriers for enrollment services starting 2023. The waiver, the Georgia Access Model, is the first approved under the Trump administration’s 1332 revised guidance and is expected to be challenged in court.

Results and analysis from the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, attorneys general and state legislative races.

Illinois

Despite winning the Presidential race in Illinois and retaining their majorities in both state legislative chambers, Democrats had a weaker than expected night, ceding ground from their Blue Wave strength in the Chicago suburbs in 2018.

North Carolina

All eyes were on North Carolina last night as results were tallied in one of the nation’s most critical swing states. Some of the state’s polling places had technical difficulties in the morning, leading the State Board of Elections to vote to extend some precincts’ closing times in an emergency voting session.

South Carolina

In what can only be described as a red Republican wave, upsets resonated across the Palmetto State on Tuesday night and into the day Wednesday.  Penry Gustafson defeated Democrat Vincent Sheheen, who served 20 years in the Senate, by a 51-49 margin, while Floyd Nicholson, who represents a district that has been Democratic since at least 1966, was defeated 56-44% by Republican Billy Garrett.  Republican Josh Kimbrell also defeated Spartanburg Democrat Glenn Reese 55-45. With the retirement of Senators John Matthews and Paul Campbell, there are now five open seats on the influential Senate Finance Committee.

Texas

Since 2016, Texas added 1.8 million registered voters to the voter rolls and hit an all-time record high of 16.9 million registered voters.  During the early voting period, almost 9.7 million people, or 57.3% of registered voters in the state, voted early.  This was a 47% increase from the number of voters who voted early in the 2016 general election.  In fact, before Election Day, 735,000 more people had voted early this year in Texas than had voted in the entire 2016 presidential election. On Election Day, over 1.4 million people voted in Texas, making this the highest election turnout our state has ever seen with over 11.1 million people in total voting.  While the Democrats were hopeful for big wins in Texas, that was not the case in last night’s election.  2021 in Texas state politics will look very similar to 2020.

Virginia

Virginia’s 2020 election results — like numerous other states’ — are still being tabulated given the unprecedented number of early votes cast in person and via mail-in ballots. Due to changes in election procedures passed by the General Assembly during the spring 2020 session, as well as court rulings that witness signatures are no longer required for mail-in ballots given the risks caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the landscape of how Virginians voted this year changed dramatically. Additionally, several races may not be called until after noon on Friday given that this is the first year Virginia can count absentee ballots that arrive after Tuesday — through noon Friday — as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

Read more on the U.S. Elections on McGuireWoods Consulting’s website.

This week in Washington: Washington is relatively quiet because of Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd.

Senate

Grassley, Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Transparency and Accountability within the Federal Government
On Oct. 26, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), along with Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Jody Hice (R-GA), introduced bipartisan legislation to increase transparency and accountability within the federal government. The Oversight.gov Authorization Act would formally authorize the establishment and maintenance of a website to help the public more easily access reports that have been generated by the independent work of Inspectors General (IGs). Additionally, the bill would improve accountability over funds related to COVID-19 federal spending and the work of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee by bolstering the webpage dedicated to housing this information as mandated under the CARES Act. Find the bill here.

Administration

CMS Advances Seven Finalists in Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge
On Oct. 29, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced seven finalists who will advance to the final round of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Health Outcomes Challenge. This multistage competition launched last year with more than 300 entities proposing AI solutions for predicting patient health outcomes aimed at revolutionizing health care for potential use by the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. In this last stage of the competition, the seven finalists will further develop algorithms that demonstrate how AI tools can be used to predict unplanned hospital and skilled nursing facility admissions and adverse events, and also will develop predictive algorithms for a standard target to be selected by CMS. CMS will announce the grand prize winner (who will receive up to $1 million in prize money) and runner-up (who will receive up to $230,000 in prize money) by the end of April 2021.

The finalists are:

  • Ann Arbor Algorithms (Sterling Heights, MI)
  • ClosedLoop.ai (Austin, TX)
  • Deloitte Consulting, LLP (Arlington, VA)
  • Geisinger (Danville, PA)
  • Jefferson Health (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (Princeton, NJ)
  • University of Virginia Health System (Charlottesville, VA)

CMS to Make COVID-19 Vaccines, Treatments Free for Medicare Beneficiaries
On Oct. 28, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) announced that the COVID-19 vaccines would be free to all Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare will cover, in entirety, the up to $2.6 billion cost of paying doctors to administer coronavirus vaccines, and doctors will bill traditional Medicare for all beneficiaries so private Medicare Advantage plans do not need to cover the cost. CMS will also make antibodies and other COVID-19 treatments free to seniors by paying hospitals extra for using newly approved or authorized COVID-19 treatments and by paying outpatient providers for those products separately from bundled payments. Medicare will pay doctors $28.39 to administer coronavirus vaccines. For vaccines that require two doses, Medicare will pay $16.95 for the first dose and $28.39 for the second dose. These rates will be geographically adjusted and recognize the costs involved in administering the vaccine, according to an interim final rule.

HHS Rewards 10,000-Plus Nursing Homes for COVID-19 Mitigation
On Oct. 28, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced more than $330 million will be distributed this week to nursing homes that HHS determined made significant reductions in COVID-19 cases and deaths in their facilities between August and September. There will be four more opportunities for nursing homes to qualify for the incentive funds. Find more information here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

This week in Washington: Mnuchin and Pelosi continue discussions for COVID-19 stimulus package.

House

Bipartisan Members Defend Preexisting Condition Protections, Disagree on Definition
On Oct. 20, the House Ways & Means oversight subcommittee had a bipartisan group of members pledge support for protecting people with preexisting conditions. The members disagreed on what defines preexisting condition protections. Republican members of the committee said preexisting conditions protections only work if coverage is affordable and said non-Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant products like short-term plans, which do not have to cover preexisting conditions or other essential health benefits, are a sufficient alternative. Find more information here.

Senate

Alexander Defends NIH Dr. Fauci after President Trump’s Negative Comments
On Oct. 19, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TX) defended the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Anthony Fauci, after President Trump called Fauci a “disaster,” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alexander called Dr. Fauci one of the country’s most distinguished public servants.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

On Nov. 10, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for California v. Texas, the case challenging the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) constitutionality. This case centers on the ACA’s minimum essential coverage provision, the “individual mandate” requiring that people maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage.

In NIFB v Sebelius, the mandate was upheld as constitutional because the Supreme Court saw it as a tax. In 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which eliminated the individual mandate penalty effective Jan. 1, 2019, raising questions about the mandate’s constitutionality.

At the time the ACA was passed, the individual mandate was seen as a principle part of the law and how it would work. Since Congress zeroed out the penalty for failing to have minimum coverage, the thinking on the importance of the mandate has changed. Originally, 20 states led by Texas brought suit. However, after the 2018 elections, two states chose not to continue their participation.

In the lower court decision, the judge found the mandate unconstitutional. The appeals court agreed, but sent the decision back to the lower court for the judge to review what elements of the law might be severable and thus would not fall. Twenty-one states, led by California, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intercede before the lower court judge could review the law to determine what from the ACA was intertwined with the individual mandate and what was not.

The Trump administration has not defended the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate. Instead, the Department of Justice agrees with the state and individual plaintiffs in the case that the individual mandate is no longer constitutional because of the penalty elimination by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Supreme Court to Address Standing

The U.S. Supreme Court will address whether the plaintiffs have standing to challenge the individual mandate, by considering the following:

  • Is the mandate unconstitutional now? If the plaintiffs have standing, then the Supreme Court must determine whether Congress’ act in zeroing out the penalty renders the individual mandate unconstitutional.
  • If the individual mandate is unconstitutional, what else from the law falls and what can be kept in place? Should the Supreme Court find the individual mandate unconstitutional, it then must decide if the entire law must be struck or if parts of the law can be retained because they do not rely on the mandate being implemented. This would include the Medicare and Medicaid sections of the law and provisions that went into effect before the implementation of the mandate. The court must decide whether insurance reforms in the law fall with the mandate.
  • If the entire ACA is determined invalid, then the Supreme Court will consider whether the entire law is unenforceable nationwide or whether it should be unenforceable only to the extent that provisions injure the individual plaintiffs.

The U.S. Supreme Court could hand down a decision as late as June 2021. The ACA’s future will be determined by litigation that likely will go on for several years.

Read more on healthcare policy on the McGuireWoods Consulting website.

 

This week in Washington: Mnuchin and Pelosi continue discussions for COVID-19 stimulus package.

House

Democrats Ask GAO to Investigate Legality of President Trump’s Medicare Drug Gift Cards
On Oct. 13, House Energy & Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), House Ways & Means Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) and Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the legality of President Trump’s $200 Medicare drug discount cards. President Trump promised to hand out $200 gift cards to help Medicare Part D beneficiaries cover their copays. Only seniors would receive the cards before the election. However, the Democratic members say in the letter that the cards are almost like buying votes, and question whether the cards are legal before an upcoming presidential election.

Pelosi Rejects Trump Administration’s $1.8 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Package, Mnuchin Willing to Negotiate Further
On Oct. 12, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected the Trump administration’s $1.8 billion COVID-19 stimulus offer. She argued that the proposal ignored key economic issues during the pandemic and is $400 billion less than the Democrats’ proposal. The topline spending amounts and some of the major provisions have been confirmed, but no one has publicly seen the text. Democrats oppose an insufficient strategy for COVID-19 testing and tracing, and liability protection, which would shield corporations from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin responded that the Trump administration is willing to compromise with House Democrats over a provision on testing in a relief proposal.

Senate

Sen. Alexander and Rep. Walden Ask for Input on Modernizing 340B Drug Pricing Program
On Oct. 9, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR) released a statement calling for input on how to improve the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Suggestions from stakeholders must be submitted by Oct. 30, 2020, to the following email addresses: 340B@help.senate.gov and 340B@mail.house.gov. Find the full statement here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

This week in Washington: Negotiations for COVID-19 stimulus package are ongoing; House and Senate are in recess.

House

Energy and Commerce Republican Leadership Requests GAO Review of Contact Tracing Apps

On Oct. 9, House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee ranking member Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee ranking member Brett Guthrie (R-KY) sent a letter to the Comptroller General Gene Dodaro to request a technology assessment of COVID-19 contact tracing apps by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In the letter, the members ask GAO to review the use of these apps in other countries as well. Find the full letter here.

House Democrats Introduce Bill Penalizing Labs for Slow COVID-19 Test Results

On Oct. 2, Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Mike Sherrill (D-NJ) and Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced a bill to penalize laboratories that take longer than three days to provide coronavirus test results and to reward fast turnarounds. The Strictly Pay for Efficient and Expedited Delivery of Your (SPEEDY) COVID- 19 Tests Act would pay 25 percent more for COVID-19 test results returned within 24 hours. Medicare pay rates would remain the same if results are delivered within two days, and pay rates from before the pandemic would apply to tests when results take three days. After 72 hours, labs would receive no reimbursement for processing a COVID-19 test. The bill also threatens to pull labs’ ability to participate in Medicare if they do not process samples within 28 days. All tests must be processed within 28 days. The bill provides an additional 36-hour extension for rural communities and labs supporting medically underserved areas. Find the bill here.

Senate

Sen. Alexander and Rep. Walden Ask for Input on Modernizing 340B Drug Pricing Program

On Oct. 9, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-OR) released a statement calling for input on how to improve the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Suggestions from stakeholders must be submitted by Oct. 30, 2020, to the following email addresses: 340B@help.senate.gov and 340B@mail.house.gov. Find the full statement here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.

This week in Washington: The Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government until Dec. 11 was signed by President Trump; House passes COVID-19 stimulus bill.

House

House Democrats Pass Revised HEROES Act
On Oct. 1, the House passed H.R. 6800, the revised Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), with a vote of 214 to 207. This version of the bill costs $2.2 trillion and includes a new provision that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) $1.5 million to hold one or more advisory committee meetings to discuss coronavirus vaccine authorization or approval requests. The bill creates a special enrollment period in healthcare.gov and Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax credits for anyone who has lost a job, and increases Medicaid matching funds, but does not include subsidies for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). The bill also provides $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures and $28 billion for procurement, distribution and education campaigns for a safe and effective vaccine. The bill adds $50 billion to the provider relief fund. The Senate has shown no interest in this bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin continue to discuss COVID-19 stimulus funding. Find the bill here.

Houses Passes Bill to Extend Medicaid to Postpartum Beneficiaries
On Sept. 29, the House passed a bipartisan bill that would create a new state plan option to extend Medicaid eligibility for up to one year after a beneficiary gives birth. The bill, introduced last year by Reps. Robin Kelly (D-IL), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Michael Burgess (R-TX), also incentivizes states that choose to extend Medicaid for postpartum beneficiaries by increasing their federal Medicaid match 5 percent. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the bill would increase off-budget revenues by $649 million. Find the Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness (MOMMA’s) Act here.

Senate

Six Republican Senators Join Democrats on Motion to Debate Legislation to Block DOJ Concerning the Affordable Care Act
On Oct. 1, six Senate Republicans [Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)] voted with Democrats on a procedural motion to debate a bill that would block the Department of Justice (DOJ) from arguing against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the Supreme Court in November. Five of the six Republican senators are up for reelection this cycle. The bill was not expected to pass but was a message to the Trump administration ahead of the Supreme Court case.

Bennet, Young Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Create New Antibiotic Subscription Model
On Sept. 30, Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced legislation to establish a payment model under which antibiotic developers could get upfront payment for new antibiotics. The bill builds upon an existing framework to improve data collection for antibiotic use. The Pioneering Antimicrobial Subscriptions to End Upsurging Resistance (PASTEUR) Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to set up a committee, the Committee on Critical Need Antimicrobials, to develop a pilot subscription and reimbursement model that incentivizes manufacturers to create antibiotics for targeted microbes. Find the bill here.

President Signs CR to Avoid Government Shutdown
On Sept. 30, the Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government through Dec. 11, avoiding a government shutdown. The CR extends funding for several Medicare and Medicaid programs, among other health care program extenders. The full package includes Medicare and Medicaid extenders, a delay in cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospitals and an extension of the repayment deadline and lowered interest for certain COVID-19 provider relief payments. It also includes a clarification that drugs used in medication-assisted treatment can continue to get Medicaid rebates, an increase in funding for the Medicaid improvement fund, protection of Medicare beneficiaries from an expected Part B premium hike and extension of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rare pediatric disease priority review voucher program. Find more information from McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president Stephanie Kennan here.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.