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On the Hill: New House Speaker; Fall Policy Assembly 

America’s Essential Hospitals welcomed more than 60 essential hospital advocates to Washington, D.C., this week for the association’s annual Medicaid Summit and semiannual legislative fly-in, Policy Assembly.

Programming featured remarks by association member and staff leaders; presentations on policy priorities, including Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding, and the policy state of play in Washington; administrative panels with health leaders from former presidential administrations and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; and Capitol Hill discussion panels, with health policy staff from congressional leadership and a former member of Congress.

Hospital advocates journeyed to Capitol Hill Wednesday to discuss essential hospitals’ policy priorities with lawmakers, including eliminating $16 billion in Medicaid DSH cuts over the next two fiscal years, protecting the 340B Drug Pricing Program, pushing back on site-neutral payment proposals, and establishing a federal designation for essential hospitals.

Meet the New House Speaker 

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) was confirmed last week as the new House speaker, with 220 Republican votes. He will spend this week confronting the looming government shutdown deadline, on Nov. 17, and considering aid proposals for Israel and Ukraine.

One of the 12 appropriations bills Congress must consider pertains to Food and Drug Administration funding, which will be a challenge for Johnson, given GOP divisions over abortion language in the bill and differing funding levels between the House and Senate versions.

Johnson’s health record is markedly conservative, as he supports cuts to Medicare and a nationwide ban on abortion. He also chaired the Republican Study Committee in 2019 when it released a health proposal seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Other Hill Activity 

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee last week held a hearing, “Supporting Access to Long-Term Services and Supports: An Examination of the Impacts of Proposed Regulations on Workforce and Access to Care.” The hearing considered the Biden administration’s proposed minimum staffing rule and proposed Medicaid access rule. Subcommittee Republicans said the rules would impose significant burdens on nursing homes and certain providers and force some to go out of business. They also said the rules would fail to address the root problem, which they described as a lack of available staff. Subcommittee Democrats, alternatively, argued that the rules are necessary to ensure patients receive adequate care and that providers are not being overburdened.

Also last week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing, “Overworked and Undervalued: Is the Severe Hospital Staffing Crisis Endangering the Well-Being of Patients and Nurses?,” which explored similar issues with health care provider burnout and also addressed concerns with the demands of travel nurses and hospital CEO pay.

Committee Activity This Week 

The House will convene beginning on Wednesday this week, while the Senate is in session through Friday.

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About the Author

Julia Grady is a legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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