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On the Hill: Congressional Leadership, Funding Bill, 340B

Looking ahead to the 117th Congress, senators last week re-elected the top ranks of their leadership teams, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The House will vote on party leadership this week. Democrats last week gained the 218 seats needed to hold the majority, clearing the way to re-elect Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Democrats also are expected to re-elect Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC). Republicans are poised to re-elect Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney.

In the Senate, majority control will be determined by the outcome of two Jan. 5 runoff races for Georgia seats. In the House, Democrats will hold a slimmer majority after losing at least 10 seats, with more than a dozen races yet to be called.

Tighter majorities in both the House and the Senate will have significant implications on health care legislation, both during the lame duck session and the next Congress. The outcomes of the recent elections will influence negotiations on government funding legislation and the next COVID-19 relief package, on which Democrats and Republicans remain apart on the top-line spending number and key policy issues.

Senate Introduces FY 2021 Funding Legislation

Senate Republicans last week introduced legislation to fund the federal government for fiscal year (FY) 2021. The $1.4 trillion package, comprising 12 appropriations bills, represents the starting point for negotiations with the House on spending; the House passed appropriations bills over the summer.

Congress has until Dec. 11 to fund the government for FY 2021 or pass a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown.

Bipartisan House Letter Supports 340B

On Nov. 13, 217 bipartisan House members sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar about recent actions taken by Kalderos, a third-party vendor aligned with drug manufacturers, that could threaten the 340B Drug Pricing Program benefit for essential hospitals.

The letter — led by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Cynthia Axne (D-IA), David McKinley (R-WV), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), John Katko (R-NY), and Doris Matsui (D-CA) — raises concerns about Kalderos’ intent to unilaterally shift the 340B benefit away from an upfront discount model toward a rebate model, without any guidance from HHS or public input. The letter asks HHS about its interaction with the vendor.

2020 Postelection Webinar

Join our legislative affairs team for a Nov. 18 webinar at 2 pm ET to analyze the impact of the elections on essential hospitals, health care policy, and the nation’s safety net.

The outcome of this month’s congressional elections will have significant implications for health policy in 2021. Webinar attendees will explore the outlook for federal safety-net support vital to essential hospitals, including COVID-19 aid, Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement, and the 340B program.

Register for Virtual Postelection Policy Assembly

Don’t forget to register for America’s Essential Hospitals Dec. 8–9 virtual postelection Policy Assembly.

Attendees will receive a full analysis of the November elections and learn how the outcomes of presidential and congressional races impact essential hospital advocacy priorities moving forward. Attendees also will have the opportunity to virtually engage their congressional delegations.


About the Author

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

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