As Congress returns from the July Fourth recess, lawmakers focus on legislation to protect consumers from unexpected, out-of-network medical bills, lower prescription drug costs, and extend short-term funding for community behavioral health clinics.
House Surprise Billing Legislation
House lawmakers are expected to mark up legislation to reduce surprise medical bills before heading out for a six-week break in August.
In May, bipartisan leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released a draft version of the No Surprises Act. Similar to the Senate’s Lower Health Care Costs Act (S. 1895), the proposal would set a benchmark payment to providers for out-of-network care equal to the median in-network rate for the service in a geographic area. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, in June voted 20-3 to advance the bipartisan Lower Health Care Costs Act.
Reducing Rx Drug Prices
Meanwhile, members of the Senate Committee on Finance meet this week to discuss legislative proposals to lower out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors and reform Medicare’s prescription drug benefit.
Senate leaders have indicated they might combine such a proposal with the Lower Health Care Costs Act.
Short-Term Funding for Behavioral Health Clinics
Before heading into recess last week, the House and Senate approved a short-term funding extension bill (S. 2047) for community behavioral health clinics. Funding for such clinics was slated to expire on June 30.
A House bill passed in June would have funded the clinics for two years, but it was not considered in the Senate before the funding deadline. Congress now has until July 14 to further extend funding for the clinics.
The Senate Committee on Aging will hold a July 10 hearing on the progress of a diabetes program in helping Americans with Type 1 diabetes.
The House Committee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a July 10 hearing examining the administration’s decision not to defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in Texas v. United States.