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On the Hill: Congress Pursues Continuing Resolution

Congress has indicated plans to pursue a one-week continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded at current levels through Dec. 18.

This extension would give negotiators extra time to reach a deal on fiscal year 2021 spending legislation and possibly address health care extenders, as well as stop the impending $4 billion cut to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments.

The House and Senate could take up the one-week CR as early as Wednesday.

Bipartisan COVID-19 Relief Deal Jumpstarts Negotiations

A group of bipartisan senators and House members last week introduced a framework for a $908 billion COVID-19 relief deal.

The outline was announced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and a group of bipartisan members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus. It would add $35 billion to the Provider Relief Fund and include temporary liability protection for employers, among other priorities. Lawmakers this week are expected to release additional details, including legislative language.

The agreement helped to reinvigorate bipartisan negotiations among Republican and Democratic leadership. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) indicated this bipartisan compromise would be an acceptable starting point for negotiations, with President-elect Biden expressing support.

Last week, separate conversations between Pelosi and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and between Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, marked the first leadership-level discussions on COVID-19 relief since before the elections. In an important development, Pelosi and McConnell agreed some form of COVID-19 relief should be tied to forthcoming government funding legislation.

McConnell also released a revised outline of a narrow Republican COVID-19 relief proposal, offering another sign of the desire to pass some form of COVID-19 legislation before the December holidays.

Upcoming Hearings for Essential Hospitals

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a Dec. 8 hearing at 10 am ET on outpatient COVID-19 treatment. One witness is a practitioner at association member Broward Health, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety will hold a Dec. 10 hearing at 9:30 am ET to explore the logistics of transporting a COVID-19 vaccine.


About the Author

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

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