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On the Hill: Budget Hearings, Star Ratings Letter

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar this week continues hearings with congressional panels to discuss the president’s proposed health care budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021.

Azar is slated to speak at a Feb. 26 hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health to discuss both the budget proposal and oversight of the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, Azar is scheduled to speak this week with the House Committee on Ways and Means, House Committee on Appropriations, and Senate Committee on Appropriations about the president’s budget recommendations.

Last week, Azar defended the president’s plan at a Senate Committee on Finance hearing, reassuring lawmakers that Medicaid funding would continue to grow under the proposed  budget. He also assured committee members that the administration would continue to work with states on the proposed Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR) released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in November 2019.

Senators Circulate Letter on Star Ratings

Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Bob Casey (D-PA) are circulating a bipartisan letter asking CMS to incorporate social determinants of health and socioeconomic status when updating the overall hospital star rating methodology.

In an Action Alert last week, America’s Essential Hospitals called on member hospitals to urge their senators to sign the Portman-Casey letter by the Feb. 28 deadline.

America’s Essential Hospitals MFAR Work Group

America’s Essential Hospitals invites member hospital government relations professionals and other interested staff to participate in the next phase of its MFAR advocacy work group. The association will convene the work group on a regular basis to provide updates on current and future MFAR-related advocacy engagements with members of Congress.

To join the work group, contact Vice President of Legislative Affairs Carlos Jackson at

Policy Assembly Reminder

In anticipation of our upcoming spring Policy Assembly, we would like to remind our attending members to schedule their meetings with the congressional delegations before arriving in Washington.

Please reach out to with questions.


About the Author

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

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