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On the Hill: Congress Recesses Until After Elections

Before heading into an unexpectedly early recess to campaign for midterm elections, senators last week failed to approve a resolution (S.J. Res. 63) that would  have overturned the administration’s expansion of short-term insurance plans.

The regulation, finalized over the summer, expands the availability of short-term insurance plans by extending the coverage term from three months to one year, with the ability to renew the plan for three years. S.J. Res. 63, introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), was cosponsored by 45 senators, but ultimately failed in a 50-50 vote, falling one vote short of the simple majority required to overturn the regulation.

The Senate last week also confirmed 15 federal judicial nominees before heading back to their home districts. Both chambers of Congress now are on break until after the November elections.

When returning to Washington, the Senate will be tasked with reauthorizing the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), which includes funding for the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP).

Grassley Seeks FTC Review of Hospital, Insurer Contracts

Before the Senate recessed, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether contracts between hospital systems and insurers contribute to decreased competition and increased health care costs. The letter cites a Wall Street Journal report that documented secret contract terms that some hospital systems use to protect their businesses and curb cost by redirecting patients toward less expensive plans.

Hearing on Improving Care Affordability, Innovation

After a previous delay, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a Nov. 28 hearing on reducing health care costs through improved affordability and innovation.

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About the Author

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