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On the Hill: DSH Cuts Relief Passes Key House Committee

Legislation championed by America’s Essential Hospitals to eliminate $16 billion in cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding in the next two federal fiscal years (FYs) passed a key House committee last week.

The Supporting Safety Net Hospitals Act, which would avert DSH cuts in FYs 2024 and 2025, won approval by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which combined it with other legislation that would require greater transparency for the 340B Drug Pricing Program and hospital and insurer pricing and enact site-neutral payment policies. The amended bill was reintroduced as the Promoting Access to Treatments and Increasing Extremely Needed Transparency (PATIENT) Act of 2023 (H.R. 3561).

The Energy and Commerce Committee’s actions came in a May 24 markup of 19 pieces of legislation pertaining to a variety of issues. America’s Essential Hospital will continue meeting with lawmakers and their staff on both sides of the aisle to educate them about the benefits of stopping the DSH cuts and the potential harm of site-neutral payments. Notably, Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) raised concerns during the markup about the proposed site-neutral policies.

The committee also incorporated in the PATIENT Act legislation that would cap cost sharing on highly rebated drugs at the price paid by the insurer for the drug in the previous year to ensure patients never pay more than the cost of the drug.

Now that H.R. 3561 has been reported out of committee, it awaits House floor consideration. America’s Essential Hospitals will keep its members informed of the bill’s progress and prepare its advocacy for that next stage. The Senate, meanwhile, is just starting its work to address the DSH cuts. The association will continue advocating for clean legislation — a bill to eliminate the cuts without imposing harmful new policies.

During last week’s Energy and Commerce markup, Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) voiced her support for a key association advocacy priority: achieving a federal designation for essential hospitals. Trahan signaled her intention to work toward a definition and spoke about the need for designation to protect the safety net.

“[I]t’s imperative that we keep in mind the essential hospitals across our nation who have been on the front lines for the past three years helping us navigate extremely challenging times,” Trahan said in prepared remarks. “Many safety net hospitals continue to struggle financially today, and we have a duty to ensure these hospitals can keep their doors open and continue delivering the best care possible in the communities they serve.”

Debt Ceiling Movement

An agreement on raising the debt ceiling — the Fiscal Responsibility Act (H.R. 3746) — was tentatively reached over the Memorial Day weekend between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Joe Biden. The deal, which was expected to go to the House floor Wednesday, could face challenges from hardliners on both sides of the aisle.

The package would claw back almost $30 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief funding, but would not impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients, as once expected. The package also would subject federal agencies to an administrative version of The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 through 2024 and increase funding for health care fraud and abuse control.

Join the Federal Action Network Today!

Stay connected to the latest from Washington. Join our Federal Action Network (FAN) — free for members — and gain exclusive access to advocacy expertise and updates. Also, save the date, June 15, 6 pm CT, for the FAN networking event at VITAL 2023, Blues on the Roof.


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