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On the Hill: Congress Faces Deadlines on PAHPA, Funding Bill

Ahead of the holiday recess, Congress resumes legislative activity this week with negotiations on a series of must-pass items, including the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovations Act (PAHPA) and a year-end spending bill.

The Senate needs to approve PAHPA to provide new funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and other public health–related preparedness and response programs. Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) continue to negotiate two unrelated bills that have held up the passage of PAHPA. The bill needs Senate approval before the president can sign it. 

Congressional leaders in both chambers continue work to finalize a year-end spending bill after passing a two-week funding measure to avert a partial government shutdown. Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse over funding for a wall on the southern border with Mexico. If lawmakers cannot reach an agreement by Dec. 21, portions of the federal government could go dark.

Meanwhile, the House this week will vote on a health care legislative package that includes modified versions of previously introduced bills. Notably, the package would:

  • provide states the option to establish Medicaid health homes for children with complex medical conditions (based on the Advancing Care for Exceptional [ACE] Kids Act);
  • authorize $112 million for fiscal year 2019 to extend projects funded under the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration Grant, which assists Medicaid beneficiaries with chronic conditions and disabilities when transitioning from institutionalized to home- and community-based settings; and
  • impose civil monetary penalties on drug manufacturers that intentionally misclassify outpatient drugs covered by Medicaid.

America’s Essential Hospitals has expressed support for a previous version of the ACE Kids Act and legislation to extend the Money Follows the Person demonstration program.

Upcoming Energy and Commerce Hearings

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will hold a Dec. 11 hearing on implementing the 21st Century Cures Act with an update provided by the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

On Dec. 12, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will examine the availability of sexual assault forensic examiner (SAFE) kits at hospitals.

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About the Author

Erin Delaney is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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