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On the Hill: Barrett Confirmed, PRF Reporting Changed

After a rare weekend legislative session, the Senate on Monday confirmed Amy Coney Barrett as the ninth and newest justice to the Supreme Court. Her ascension to the high court marks President Trump’s third Supreme Court confirmation, cementing a 6-3 ideologically conservative majority on the bench.

The timing of her appointment will give Barrett the opportunity to weigh in on many health care cases coming before the Supreme Court, including next month’s case on the future of the Affordable Care Act.

COVID-19 Relief Negotiations Stalled

Meanwhile, negotiations on the next COVID-19 relief package remain at an impasse despite extensive discussions and reports of progress.

Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to express cautious optimism about reaching a deal. However, the sides remain far apart on key issues, such as additional funding for state and local governments and a national COVID-19 testing regime.

It appears unlikely a deal can be struck before Election Day. However, Pelosi indicated the House could vote on a relief package before Nov. 3 if an agreement is reached by the middle of this week.

HHS Alters Relief Funding Requirements

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has altered Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting requirements in response to concerns raised by the association and a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

In guidance and FAQs issued June 19, HHS outlined the terms and conditions for accepting PRF dollars. However, the agency last month abruptly changed course post-payment and issued new requirements inconsistent with previous guidance, including a detrimental change to the definition of “lost revenue.” This change potentially could force essential hospitals and other providers to return portions of previously dispersed funds.

Nearly 250 bipartisan members of Congress and America’s Essential Hospitals urged HHS Secretary Alex Azar to rescind the harmful Sept. 19 notice.

The association will send a detailed Action Update on the newest PRF reporting changes in the coming days.

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About the Author

Nikki Hurt is a manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.

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