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On The Hill: Essential Hospital Priorities Letter, Workforce Hearing

Last week, America’s Essential Hospitals sent congressional leaders a letter detailing association policy priorities for the 118th Congress, including averting cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments, providing workforce support, and establishing an essential hospitals designation.

The 11-page letter to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate also called for relief from a provision in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 — Section 203 —  that has disadvantaged some hospitals by changing how DSH payment limits account for Medicaid shortfall. In the letter, the association also called on Congress to protect the 340B Drug Pricing Program; improve access to mental and behavioral health care; address social determinants of health; eliminate barriers to telehealth; and take other steps to improve safety net care.

Also last week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing on health care workforce shortages. The Feb. 16 hearing, “Examining Health Care Workforce Shortages: Where Do We Go From Here?,” featured testimony by administrators of health care programs at U.S. colleges and universities on the factors that have contributed to the health care workforce shortage and steps they’ve taken to remedy it. Recurring themes included increasing the diversity of providers and offering skill building opportunities.

Meanwhile, House Republicans made good on their vow to ramp up oversight of the Biden administration with a field hearing in Weslaco, Texas, on immigration policy and health. The Feb. 15 joint field hearing by the Oversight and Investigations and Health subcommittees of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce focused on the health consequences of border communities’ strained resources and the illicit trafficking of fentanyl across the southern border.

On the Schedule this Week

The Senate and House are on recess this week, holding pro forma sessions Feb. 21 at 11 am and noon, respectively. Both will return for session Feb. 27.

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