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On the Hill: Short-Term DSH Extension, Drug Pricing Bill

The House passed last week a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government, including expiring health care programs, through Nov. 21.

Notably, the CR would delay implementation of the $4 billion cut to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding for fiscal year 2020 by extending the current funding level through Nov. 21.

In addition, the CR would temporarily extend funding for other health care programs, including community health centers, Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic demonstration program, the National Health Service Corps, and the teaching health center graduate medical education program.

The Senate is expected to vote on the CR later this week, and President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

Speaker Pelosi Releases Drug Pricing Legislation 

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) unveiled H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, a legislative proposal to target high prescription drug prices. Pelosi’s proposal would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate the price Medicare pays for up to 250 brand-name drugs that do not face competition from at least one generic, biosimilar, or biologic alternatives, among other provisions.

Meanwhile, two House committees will hold hearings this week on the legislative proposal, including the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on Wednesday, and the House Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on Thursday. The House Committee on Ways and Means also is expected to hold a third hearing on the bill in the coming weeks.

President Trump signaled his initial interest in Speaker Pelosi’s proposal shortly after the bill text was released while also reiterating his support for the bipartisan drug pricing proposal approved by the Senate Committee on Finance. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) publicly announced his opposition to Speaker Pelosi’s bill.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings

The House Committee on Appropriations will hold a Wednesday hearing on investments in medical research at five National Institutes of Health institutes and centers.

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About the Author

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

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