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On the Hill: Association Weighs in on Medicaid Work Requirement Proposal

As negotiations on the nation’s debt limit command attention on Capitol Hill, America’s Essential Hospitals weighed in this week with a letter that calls on Senate leaders to reject a House proposal to impose work requirements for Medicaid as a condition of raising the debt ceiling.

“We urge you to ensure a stable social safety net for millions of Americans and protect access to health care by rejecting broad-based work requirements as a mandatory condition for Medicaid eligibility,” America’s Essential Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, said in a May 9 letter to Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate majority and minority leaders, respectively.

The association urged the senators to, instead, preserve access to health care coverage, support state flexibility, reduce administrative burdens, and protect the health care safety net. “Reducing access to health care would have a detrimental and compounding effect on communities, hospitals, and health care systems,” Siegel said of the work requirements’ likely outcome.

Debt ceiling negotiations continue between the White House and Capitol Hill. On May 9, President Joe Biden welcomed top congressional leaders, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), to the White House for discussions following Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s announcement that the federal government could default as early as June 1.

Committee Activity This Week

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will meet May 10, at 1 pm ET, for a hearing, “The Need to Make Insulin Affordable for All Americans.” This coincides with the recent legislative push for insulin price caps. Witnesses will include leaders from Eli Lilly and Company, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, CVS Health, Express Scripts, and OptumRx.

On May 11, the HELP Committee will continue an executive session to examine legislation, including the Pharmacy Benefit Manager Reform Act (S. 1339), following bipartisan concerns about moving ahead without Congressional Budget Office cost estimates and other relevant information. The 340B Drug Pricing Program is expected to be discussed.

The HELP Committee also will host a field round table at 10 am ET, May 12, at the Morehouse School of Medicine, in Atlanta. Titled, “How Can We Improve Health Workforce Diversity and Address Shortages? A Conversation with Historically Black College and University Leaders and Students,” the round table will include leaders from historically Black college and university medical schools and other informed health care stakeholders.

On May 11, at 10 am ET, the Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing, “Cross-border Rx: Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and U.S. International Tax Policy.”

In the House, the Committee on Ways and Means Health Subcommittee will meet May 10 for a hearing, “Examining Policies that Inhibit Innovation and Patient Access,” to examine policies that have negatively impacted innovation and access.

Also in the House, Committee on Energy and Commerce subcommittees will hold two key hearings on May 11. A 10 am ET Health Subcommittee hearing, “Preparing for and Responding to Future Public Health Security Threats,” will feature testimony by Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention representatives, among others. Thirty minutes later, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing, “Examining the Root Causes of Drug Shortages: Challenges in Pharmaceutical Drug Supply Chains.”

Other Policymaking Activity

The United States’ COVID-19 public health emergency will end May 11, and the White House has announced that the federal government will wind down certain COVID-19 vaccination mandates. These changes come on the heels of a World Health Organization announcement May 5 that COVID-19 no longer is an international public health emergency.

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