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On the Hill: 231 Lawmakers Call on House Leaders to Stop Medicaid DSH Cut

A bipartisan group of 231 House lawmakers this week sent a letter to House Speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Democratic Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) calling for action to stop an $8 billion cut to Medicaid disproportionate share (DSH) hospital funding on Oct. 1.

The letter’s delivery to House leaders follows the recent introduction of the Supporting Safety Net Hospitals Act (H.R. 2665), a bill to eliminate Medicaid DSH cuts in fiscal years 2024 and 2025. The bill’s cosponsors — Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), and Michael Burgess (R-Texas) — organized the letter sign-on campaign, and America’s Essential Hospitals helped build momentum for signatures.

The association applauded the sign-on campaign in a news release issued by Clarke’s office. “Once again, the House has shown its strong bipartisan support for protecting our health care safety net and stopping damaging cuts to Medicaid DSH funding,” said association President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH. “These cuts would harm access to care in communities across the country, and we thank Reps. Clarke, Crenshaw, DeGette, and Burgess for their leadership in introducing the Supporting Safety Net Hospitals Act and rallying support for this vital legislation.”

The Supporting Safety Net Hospitals Act is among 17 bills the Committee on Energy and Commerce is scheduled to mark up May 17, at 10 am ET. Other bills the committee will consider seek to lower health care costs, expand access, and strengthen Medicare and other safety net programs, among other congressional priorities. Association staff will closely monitor the status of the Supporting Safety Net Hospitals Act at this hearing.

Recent Committee Activity

At a Committee on Ways and Means’ Health Subcommittee hearing last week, “Examining Policies that Inhibit Innovation and Patient Access,” subcommittee Republicans expressed frustration with a laundry list of Biden administration policies they argued could impede medical innovation. Republicans suggested Congress has too little control over the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and government negotiation of drug prices under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Subcommittee Democrats generally argued that negotiation-related policies are necessary to ensure the federal government can cover high-value innovations, and they criticized recent GOP attempts to reduce funding for the National Institutes of Health.

Also in the House, the Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee met May 11 for a hearing, “Preparing for and Responding to Future Public Health Security Threats,” which focused on reauthorizing the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), which is set to expire Sept. 30 without congressional action.

Several bills advanced out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) May 11 executive session, including the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Reform Act (S. 1339), which the committee approved with an 18-3 vote.

Committee Activity This Week

This week will be active for committees with jurisdiction over health care policy. The Committee on Ways and Means will hold a full committee hearing May 16, at 10 am ET, “Health Care Price Transparency: A Patient’s Right to Know,” and the committee’s Health Subcommittee will meet May 17, at 2 pm ET, for a hearing, “Why Health Care is Unaffordable: Anticompetitive and Consolidated Markets.”

In the Senate, the Committee on Finance will meet May 17, at 2:30 pm ET, for a hearing, “Improving Health Care Access in Rural Communities: Obstacles and Opportunities.” The Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing, “A Crisis in Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care: Closing Gaps in Access by Bringing Care and Prevention to Communities,” on May 17, at 10 am ET.

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