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On the Hill: DSH Cut Relief, Funding for Expiring Health Programs

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health last week marked up legislation to reduce surprise medical bills and extend funding for expiring health care programs, including Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments.

Notably, the panel unanimously passed a bipartisan amendment to the Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence Act (H.R. 2328) that would eliminate scheduled cuts to Medicaid DSH funding for fiscal years (FYs) 2020 and 2021, totaling $12 billion. The amendment, introduced by Reps. Joseph Kennedy (D-MA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Billy Long (R-MO), and Richard Hudson (R-NC), also would lower a scheduled FY 2022 cut from $8 billion to $4 billion and call for an $8 billion reduction annually for FYs 2023 through 2025. Additionally, the amendment:

  • calls on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to publicize hospital-specific Medicaid upper payment limit demonstration data;
  • requires the Government Accountability Office to submit a report to Congress on policy recommendations to revise the Medicaid DSH funding formula;
  • extends current funding levels for community health centers for an additional four years; and
  • increases Medicaid funding to U.S. territories.

In a media statement, America’s Essential Hospitals thanked committee leadership for supporting a two-year elimination of Medicaid DSH cuts.

The subcommittee also considered the No Surprises Act, authored by the bipartisan leaders of Energy and Commerce Committee, that seeks to end surprise medical bills for patients. The bill would establish a benchmark payment to providers for out-of-network care equal to the the median in-network commercial rate for a service in the geographic area. The bill ties the benchmark payment to a 2019 base year with annual increases  set by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumer (CPI-U) inflationary measure.

All the bills considered during the markup were reported favorably out of the subcommittee. The full committee will vote on the bills July 17.

Repealing the ‘Cadillac Tax’

On Wednesday, the House will vote on legislation to end the 40 percent tax on high-value health coverage established by the Affordable Care Act.

The Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 748) would permanently repeal the tax on high-cost, employer-provided health plans scheduled to take effect in 2022. Congress has acted multiple times to delay this tax.

Upcoming Hearings

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a July 16 hearing on federal efforts to combat the spread of illicit Fentanyl.

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About the Author

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

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