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On the Hill: CR, Medical Device Tax, Veteran and Children’s Health

Congress is wrapping up legislative activities this week until after the Nov. 4 elections. The House and Senate plan to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to extend federal funding through Dec. 11, allowing those up for re-election to head home to campaign. Congress plans to return after the election for a lame duck session and will have a month to pass a more comprehensive spending bill. The CR is set to include additional fiscal flexibility, but no new funding, for the influx of minors crossing the U.S. border. It will also likely include an amendment to financially support Syrian rebels combating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as requested by the president.

The House will consider the Jobs for America Act, a large package tackling several issues, including language introduced in H.R. 523 to repeal the excise tax on medical device manufacturers and importers.  The House will also take up a measure to extend expiring authorities under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including provisions related to VA appointment restrictions, loan repayment for VA health professionals, and other VA health benefits. Finally, the House is expected to pass the Senate version of legislation to extend the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program, which includes $45 million less than last week’s House-passed version.

In committee business, the Senate Committee on Finance, Subcommittee on Health is holding a hearing this afternoon on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). America’s Essential Hospitals spearheaded a letter from the Partnership for Medicaid – a nonpartisan coalition chaired by the association – supporting passage this year of legislation extending CHIP coverage through 2019. Also this afternoon, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) and the Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, are holding a joint full committee hearing on the fight against Ebola. Thursday, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on the Affordable Care Act to examine security, accountability, and transparency in implementation of the law.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Wiles is the manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.