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On The Hill: Short-Term DSH Relief, Drug Pricing Bill, Impeachment

The House and Senate are on recess for the next two weeks and will return to legislative business Oct. 15.

Before leaving town, the Senate passed — and President Trump signed into law — the short-term continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government at current 2019 levels through Nov. 21. The CR also delayed until Nov. 21 the $4 billion cut to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding for fiscal year 2020.

Prescription Drug Pricing

Meanwhile, the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Committee on Finance released the long-awaited legislative text for the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019. The Finance Committee previously approved a conceptual draft of the legislation July 25 on a 19-9 vote. America’s Essential Hospitals is reviewing the legislative language to better understand the provisions that would impact essential hospitals, including the proposal to extend site-neutral payment policy to grandfathered hospital outpatient departments by reducing the Medicare payment for the administration of Medicare Part B drugs to Physician Fee Schedule rates.

Additionally, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee held legislative hearings on the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, a comprehensive bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to lower prescription drug prices. The House Committee on Ways and Means is expected to hold a hearing on the bill after the House returns from the October break. The committee hearings represent the first step in the legislative process and will be followed by markups at the subcommittee and full committee levels before a vote by the full House.

Impeachment Inquiry

Last week Speaker Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into the president. America’s Essential Hospitals is monitoring the investigation to assess the potential effects on essential hospital advocacy priorities, including stopping the impending Medicaid DSH cuts.

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About the Author

Margaret Peterson is the manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.

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