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On the Hill: More than 250 Essential Hospitals Call for DSH Fix in Letter to Congress

Last week, more than 250 members of America’s Essential Hospitals urged Congress in a letter to stop damaging cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding, including an $8 billion reduction Oct. 1.

“These cuts would undermine America’s health care safety net and significantly reduce our hospitals’ ability to provide lifesaving services to the communities you represent,” the hospitals warned in the letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

The hospitals warned that Medicaid DSH cuts “would limit [your] constituents’ access to care and hurt our local economies, including through job losses.” Also, the association this week launched an advertising campaign on the Roll Call website and Modern Healthcare’s Daily Dose newsletter calling on Congress to avert the Oct. 1 DSH cut.

Suspension Votes: LCMT and SUPPORT Act

House consideration of the Lower Costs, More Transparency Act (H.R. 5378) is tentatively set for a suspension vote this week. The package focuses on requirements meant to boost transparency for key players in health care, including hospitals, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurers. Because it would be considered under suspension of the rules, it needs two-thirds of the House to pass.  

America’s Essential Hospitals has previously shared feedback with House Republican leaders on the package, cheering its inclusion of provisions to avert two years of the pending Medicaid DSH cuts and citing concerns with site-neutral provisions in the package.

Also this week, House leaders could bring the bipartisan SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), aimed at combating the opioid crisis, to the floor for a suspension vote. The Senate side, alternatively, has introduced a reauthorization bill led by Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Ranking Member Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

Drug Shortages

Last week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing, “Legislative Proposals to Prevent and Respond to Generic Drug Shortages.” Despite leadership coalescing around the general sentiment that the drug shortage issue needs solutions, the hearing did not provide breakthroughs on practical steps toward a legislative compromise.

Appropriations 

The path to funding the federal government remains unclear, as the Sept. 30 deadline to pass appropriations ahead of the new fiscal year looms large.

Committee Activity This Week 

The House and Senate are both in session Monday through Thursday this week, with the Senate convening through Friday. Speaker McCarthy has indicated that the House will remain in session until a deal on a continuing resolution (CR) is reached.

Sept. 19, at 10 am ET, will be busy on the Hill. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing, “Examining Policies to Improve Seniors’ Access to Innovative Drugs, Medical Devices, and Technology”; the House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing, “Hearing on Reduced Care for Patients: Fallout From Flawed Implementation of Surprise Medical Billing Protections”; and the Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing, “Aging in Place: The Vital Role of Home Health in Access to Care.”

On Sept. 21, at 10 am ET, the Senate HELP Committee will hold an executive session covering several health-related bills, including a noteworthy bipartisan primary care and health workforce bill.  

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About the Author

Julia Grady is a senior legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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