Congress passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) just before the holiday recess to fund the government and returns this week to work on a long-term solution.
The short-term CR, which funds the government until Jan. 19, authorizes $3 billion for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) but lacks long-term funding to maintain the program. The short-term CR does not include funding for several health care extenders, including a delay of Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment cuts. America’s Essential Hospital will continue to aggressively work to ensure a delay of Medicaid DSH cuts is included in the next round of health care legislation.
Congress also passed the $1.5 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act before the recess, with the House voting 227-203 and the Senate voting 51-48. Lawmakers did not consider an Affordable Care Act marketplace stabilization proposal from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) or a reinsurance bill from Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) alongside the tax bill, as originally proposed. It is unclear when the Senate will consider the two bills.
Meanwhile, Reps. Jim Renacci (R-OH), Dave Joyce (R-OH), and Mike Turner (R-OH), along with 18 other House members, sent a letter to leadership on Dec. 20 seeking a delay before the end of the year of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule reducing payments under the 340B Drug Pricing Program. The letter acknowledges concerns about program transparency and urges leadership to place a moratorium on the CMS rule until Congress can review and strengthen the program.
Following the letter, Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) in late December introduced the 340B Protecting Access for the Underserved and Safety-Net Entities Act (340B PAUSE Act); the bill has one Democrat cosponsor, Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA). Meanwhile, Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) have gathered 130 cosponsors of a separate proposal, H.R. 4392, which was introduced in November and would place a permanent moratorium on the CMS rule.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a Jan. 9 hearing on the opioid crisis.