SPRING DEADLINE DRIVES 2020 HEALTH POLICY AGENDA
Few policy issues consumed more political oxygen on Capitol Hill last year than prescription drug prices and surprise medical bills – but without significant legislative achievement on either.
But Congress is going to try again, setting up a spring deadline to force action on key healthcare provisions. Despite the new inflection point, lawmakers remain far apart on drug prices, though they are much closer to agreeing on legislation that would end surprise medical bills.
The budget legislation that Congress approved last month created a May 22 deadline when several popular health programs will expire. Congressional leaders intentionally set this date in the hopes that it would drive action on drug prices and surprise billing, and that legislation to extend the expiring programs will act as a vehicle for major health policy.
Yet despite lawmakers’ professed hopes to ultimately solve both issues this year, there is no evident path to do so amid sharp divisions on policy details.