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On the Hill: Association Keeps Close Tabs on DSH Funding Efforts

America’s Essential Hospitals this week is closely following congressional health care committee efforts to develop a robust legislative package to stop impending cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding and extend funding for several expiring health care programs.

Current funding levels expire May 22 for Medicaid DSH payments and several health care programs, such as community health centers. Congressional leaders remain interested in applying budgetary savings from drug pricing and surprise billing legislation to offset the cost of these programs. Drug pricing and surprise billing efforts are aimed at lowering patients’ out-of-pocket health care costs and are expected to produce significant savings to the federal budget.

As lawmakers continue this work, America’s Essential Hospitals has urged congressional leadership to:

  • eliminate at least the first two years of the scheduled Medicaid DSH cuts;
  • oppose a government payment solution for out-of-network care in surprise billing legislation; and
  • keep harmful policy changes to the 340B Drug Pricing Program out of legislation related to health care costs, including prescription drug pricing.

Educating Congress on MFAR

Additionally, America’s Essential Hospitals is educating lawmakers on the significant threat to Medicaid funding posed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR) and its potential to weaken access to care.

CMS issued the MFAR Nov. 18, 2019, and described it as a proposal to increase transparency and program integrity. America’s Essential Hospitals is deeply concerned this proposal will dramatically undermine states’ abilities to finance their share of Medicaid and impose burdensome new reporting requirements, ultimately jeopardizing the stability of the program for millions of beneficiaries.

Impeachment Trial

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the House by the end of this week will vote to transmit the two articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate. The House vote also will include appointments of the House impeachment managers.

Meanwhile, Senate leaders continue to negotiate the terms and procedures that will guide the impeachment trial. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced there are enough votes among Republican senators to establish rules for the trial without input from Democrats. Senate Democrats have called for the testimony of certain witnesses to be heard during the trial proceedings.

The specific timeline for the Senate trial is undetermined.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a Jan. 14 hearing examining state efforts to curb the opioid crisis. State public health officials from Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia will testify.

Additionally, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a Jan. 15 hearing to consider several marijuana bills. The hearing will feature testimony from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute of Health.

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About the Author

Erin Delaney is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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