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On the Hill: House Panel Marks Up Bill with DSH Cut Relief

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee last week marked up 17 health-related bills, including the Supporting Safety Net Hospitals Act (H.R. 2665). The bill — cosponsored by Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), and Michael Burgess (R-Texas) — would stop an $8 billion cut to Medicaid disproportionate share (DSH) hospital funding scheduled for Oct. 1.

That legislation is now a part of the larger Transparent PRICE Act (H.R. 3281), which advanced from the markup by a 27-0 vote. Also included in the provisions is language on site-neutral payment policies, which America’s Essential Hospitals opposes, given the likelihood such policies would harm member hospitals.

The hearing included a discussion of the 340B Drug Pricing Program, with Democrats pushing back on a bill that would require hospitals to disclose information about how they use 340B savings. While these members said they support increased transparency and accountability, they said that the bill falls short of achieving these goals.

Also last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing, “Health Care Price Transparency: A Patient’s Right to Know,” which examined how a lack of transparency in U.S. health care increases costs and prevents patients’ informed consideration of options for treatment and care.

The Ways and Means Committee also held a Health Subcommittee hearing, “Why Health Care is Unaffordable: Anticompetitive and Consolidated Markets,” that considered competition problems within the health care space, particularly related to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Chair Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) opened the hearing by positing that large drug companies acquiring or merging with PBMs reduce patients’ access to care. He also expressed concerns about a recent increase in hospital mergers.

Debt Ceiling Debate Ongoing

Congress and the administration continue this week their focus on averting a default on the nation’s debt, with negotiators working to strike an agreement before June 1, when the country is projected to hit its debt ceiling. Making matters logistically challenging, the Senate is out this week, and the House is slated to recess Friday for the holiday weekend.

Experts warn a breach could have damaging effects on health care, affecting the government’s ability to pay providers for Medicare and Medicaid treatment, among other trickle-down effects.

Committee Activity This Week

The Committee on Appropriations will hold a markup May 24, at 10 am ET, titled “Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Bills.”

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