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On the Hill: Association Advocacy Produces Designation Bill  

Long-standing advocacy by America’s Essential Hospitals to establish a federal designation for its members took a major step forward last week when a bipartisan pair of House lawmakers introduced a bill to create a statutory definition of “essential health system.”

On Feb. 15, Reps. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.) introduced the Reinforcing Essential Health Systems for Communities Act (H.R. 7397), which would codify measures of a hospital’s commitment to disadvantaged people and communities and give policymakers a tool to better target support to health systems that serve a safety net role.

In a news release, America’s Essential Hospitals praised the bill’s introduction and thanked Trahan and Valadao for their leadership “to support the safety net by giving policymakers a way to focus federal resources where they’re needed most: on the hospitals that care for disadvantaged people and communities.”

Building support for H.R. 7397, including by securing more co-sponsors for the bill, will be a focus of America’s Essential Hospitals’ Feb. 27 to 28 Policy Assembly, in Washington, D.C. Association members can register online at no cost for this legislative fly-in event.

Senate Medicare Payment Reform Working Group

Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) recently formed a Medicare payment reform working group. The group’s primary goal is to investigate and propose long-term reforms to the physician fee schedule and make necessary updates to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.

Senate White Paper on Generic Drug Shortages

The Senate Committee on Finance has released a white paper, “Preventing and Mitigating Generic Drug Shortages: Policy Options Under Federal Health Programs,” which follows up a Dec. 5, 2023, hearing that examined potential federal policy solutions to prescription drug shortages. The Jan. 25 white paper presents the committee’s initial areas of interest and ideas for Medicare and Medicaid reforms to mitigate shortages. America’s Essential Hospitals plans to respond to the white paper.

Recent Committee Activity 

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health last week held a hearing to consider 19 bipartisan bills to address a variety of health care conditions, including autism, congenital heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia, among others. The bills also seek to improve the delivery of health care services through ensuring access to respite care for caregivers; confidential mental health services for health care providers; poison control centers; emergency medical services, including for children and rural areas; emergency cardiac treatment; organ transplants; and cancer screenings. There was bipartisan support for all the bills considered at the hearing.

Committee Activity This Week   

Both chambers are in recess this week.

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About the Author

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

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