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On the Hill: House Votes on ACA Enhancement, Hospital Construction

The House this week closes out the current legislative work period with votes to advance two bills of note for essential hospitals: one that builds on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and one that would support hospital construction projects.

On Monday, the House passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425). The legislation aims to strengthen the ACA to improve health care and prescription drug affordability.

The House this week also will vote on the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), a $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal that would authorize $10 billion over five years for hospital construction and modernization. Funding would be prioritized for infrastructure improvements to bolster public health preparedness and cyberattack prevention.

Both measures were introduced by House Democratic leadership; the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to consider either bill.

The House and Senate will be on recess the first two weeks of July.

Senate Committees Continue COVID-19 Oversight

Before adjourning for the July break, Senate committees will continue their work to examine pandemic preparedness and response.

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will hold a June 30 hearing to examine international pandemic preparedness, and the Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a July 2 hearing on Operation Warp Speed and attaining a COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in a July 1 oversight hearing will review the impact of COVID-19 on native communities.

House Hearing on Mental Health Legislation

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a June 30 hearing on legislation to improve mental health during crisis. The committee will consider nearly two dozen bills crafted to improve the quality of and access to mental health care.

Association Comments on Pandemic Preparedness White Paper

In early June, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) solicited comments on lessons learned from COVID-19 and recommendations to ensure the country is prepared for the next pandemic.

The association submitted comments in response to this request. Given the front-line role of essential hospitals, the association’s comments focused on public health capabilities and the federal government’s role to adequately support the health care safety net.

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About the Author

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

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