Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

TRUMP TO RELEASE FISCAL 2019 BUDGET THIS MORNING

The White House this morning is releasing President Trump’s fiscal 2019 budget blueprint, which will include funding requests for HHS, FDA, CMS and dozens of other healthcare-related federal agencies.

The White House says the budget will call for $17 billion for opioid-related spending next year, including for HHS’ efforts to combat the epidemic by expanding access to prevention, treatment and recovery support services as well as support for mental health.

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Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

HEALTHCARE PROVISIONS COULD BE TIED TO BUDGET DEAL TO AVERT GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Congress is expected this week to approve a fifth stopgap budget bill to keep the government open in advance of a Thursday shutdown deadline, and key healthcare provisions could be included in the budget package.

If Congress only extends current funding into March, GOP leaders could include a renewal of the federal community health centers program to attract Democratic votes. That bill also could include a series of expired Medicare programs like the Medicare-Dependent Hospital program, the enhanced Low-Volume Adjustment program, the ambulance add-on payment program and payments for home infusion drugs.

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Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

HEALTHCARE LIKELY TAKES BACK SEAT IN TRUMP’S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

After a tumultuous year on Capitol Hill – with repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and stalled attempts to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program – President Donald Trump isn’t likely to focus on healthcare policy in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

White House aides previewing the speech this weekend said its major themes will focus on economic growth, infrastructure, immigration and national security. Except for calling for more funding to combat the opioid crisis or highlighting that the ACA’s individual mandate was repealed in last month’s tax cut legislation, the president isn’t expected to address major healthcare policy.

One of Trump’s guests in the gallery is expected to put a “human face on the opioid crisis and [highlight] the heroes involved in that effort,” according to a White House official previewing the speech this weekend to stakeholders.

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Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

SENATE SCHEDULES NOON VOTE TO END GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

With the government shutdown entering its third day, the Senate scheduled a procedural vote at noon today that could pave the way to end the stalemate – but it’s not clear there’s enough support to break the logjam and reopen the government.

The House last week approved a four-week spending bill to keep the government open, renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program and suspend a series of Affordable Care Act provider taxes. Senate Democrats filibustered that bill, triggering the shutdown. Democrats say they want the budget bill to also address immigration policy affecting so-called Dreamers, young people brought into the country illegally by their parents years and sometimes decades ago.

A bipartisan group of senators is working to find a legislative solution, including reopening the government and approving another stopgap spending bill to keep Washington funded through Feb. 8. But after being in session all weekend, it’s not clear that senators will achieve consensus on either the immigration policy or the procedural vote at noon – potentially extending the government shutdown beyond today.

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Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

FEDERAL HEALTHCARE AGENCIES BRACE FOR DISRUPTION AS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN LOOMS

House Republicans will gather tonight for a GOP-only meeting to plot strategy on passing a stopgap budget bill, but a breakdown among key senators on separate immigration legislation has elevated the risk of a government shutdown at week’s end.

Washington runs out of money Friday night, and that means all but essential government services, including Health & Human Services (HHS) and its agencies, would close. In previous shutdowns, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) furloughed about half its workforce and stopped inspections, enforcement actions and monitoring operations. FDA this week is expected to release a memo outlining what would happen to advisory committees and agency user-fee activities during a shutdown.

Under the last government shutdown, in 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) processed Medicare provider claims, and most agency functions were deemed “essential” and continued during the closure. But some CMS activities – like healthcare fraud and abuse investigations and certain provider certifications – did stop during that shutdown.

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Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

BILL TO AVERT GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN COULD INCLUDE HEALTHCARE PROVISIONS

With less than two weeks before another deadline to avert a government shutdown, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill say they’re cautiously optimistic about crafting a budget agreement that also would include several key healthcare provisions.

The budget outline would include setting top-line budget numbers for two fiscal years, a long-term reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), renewal of Medicare payment provisions and a series of changes to Affordable Care Act (ACA) provider taxes. While that framework has been discussed among Republicans and Democrats, congressional staff warn it has not been agreed to and could stall over a number of unrelated issues. For example, some Democrats say they will withhold support for a budget agreement or another stopgap spending bill to keep the government open unless their demands for immigration provisions are met. Continue Reading

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

CONGRESS RECONVENES, FACES NEW DEADLINES FOR KEY HEALTHCARE POLICIES

Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week ahead of more self-imposed deadlines to resolve a series of thorny healthcare policies, including funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the rest of the federal government, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and community health centers.

The Senate reconvenes today while the House will be in session next week. Congress last month approved a stopgap-funding bill to keep the government open through Jan. 19 – creating a new deadline that raises the risk of a shutdown later this month. Continue Reading

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN: CHIP, OTHER HEALTH PROVISIONS AT RISK AS DEADLINE NEARS

Renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a host of other healthcare provisions hang in the balance as congressional Republicans struggle to find consensus on a year-end budget bill that would avert a government shutdown.

Unless lawmakers approve a new stopgap funding bill this week, the federal government will close beginning Saturday morning. The optics of a shutdown couldn’t be worse for Republicans, who want to tout their sweeping tax reform legislation that Congress is expected to approve this week. Continue Reading

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

CONGRESS PUNTS SHUTDOWN DEADLINE AND HEALTHCARE PRIORITIES

Lawmakers last week approved a stopgap budget bill to keep the government open until Dec. 22, creating a pre-Christmas showdown over a host of spending decisions and key healthcare priorities.

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill pledge they won’t let the government shut down, but significant differences exist between the parties – and among GOP lawmakers – such that the risk of budget brinksmanship only days before Christmas is real. Continue Reading

Capitol Hill Healthcare Update

CONGRESS SCRAMBLES THIS WEEK TO AVERT GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN.

Congressional Republicans face a Friday deadline to approve a stopgap budget bill to avert a government shutdown, delaying until later this month key decisions on healthcare priorities like renewing children’s insurance and Medicare provider programs.

Republicans will push a temporary funding bill this week to keep the government open until Dec. 22, effectively punting a series of policy choices that could elevate the risk of a government shutdown right before Christmas. Continue Reading

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