As this midterm election year begins, Congress must pass the fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill before government funding expires Feb. 18.
Lawmakers in December passed a continuing resolution (CR) to prevent a government shutdown and maintain current funding levels through mid-February. The CR did not include provisions to extend the suspension of the 2 percent Medicare sequester cut or waive the additional 4 percent Medicare sequester cut triggered by a provision of the American Rescue Plan Act. These cuts were addressed as part of the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Act.
Meanwhile, the White House aims to confirm a date for the State of the Union address to Congress, in which President Joe Biden will outline the administration’s key priorities and plans for 2022.
Build Back Better Act Stalls
As 2021 came to a close, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced he would not support the Build Back Better Act as currently drafted. Manchin raised concerns about inflation and the bill’s new and expanded programs that could add to the national debt. Without his support, Democrats do not have the votes to pass the legislation in the Senate.
Lawmakers will continue to update the bill to try and win the support of all 50 Democratic senators while adhering to the rules of the budget reconciliation process. Many health care policies in previous versions of the Build Back Better Act had broad support, such as proposals to lower prescription drug prices, bolster subsidies and enhance protections under the Affordable Care Act, and strengthen Medicaid. But it is unclear which, if any, of these provisions will be part of updated legislation.
The Senate is back in session this week, and the House will return Jan. 10.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a Jan. 5 nomination hearing to consider Robert Califf as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Califf previously held this position under the Obama administration.
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