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 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.
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.