While the House remains on a break, with votes scheduled to resume next week, House committees continue to meet and craft their sections of the Build Back Better Act, a “human infrastructure” reconciliation package. Senators returned to the Hill this week.
House committees aim to complete markups by Sept. 15. The House Committee on Budget will combine the work of the assigned committees into a single reconciliation bill. The full House could vote on its reconciliation legislation before the end of this month.
Committee on Ways and Means Work
Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means began a multiday markup on portions related to Medicare, the health care workforce, and prescription drug pricing. Of note, the committee considered and approved in a 24–19 vote a provision to add dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Medicare coverage; all Republicans on the committee and one Democrat voted against the measure.
The committee also considered a proposal to increase funding for Health Professional Opportunity Grants (HPOG) to implement new career pathway programs for allied health, behavioral health care, and pregnancy, birth, and postpartum services. The HPOG program awards funding to educate and train low-income individuals for careers in health care. The committee passed this proposal on a near party-line vote, with all Republicans and one Democrat in opposition.
The committee continues this week with work on prescription drug pricing and tax provisions.
Committee on Energy and Commerce Work
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is marking up its provisions of the budget reconciliation legislation. The markup is expected to conclude Tuesday.
Of note for essential hospitals, the committee is considering provisions that would:
- add $10 billion in funding for hospital infrastructure and $15 billion for pandemic preparedness;
- permanently extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); and
- extend continuous Medicaid coverage and eligibility for pregnant and postpartum people and children, respectively.
The committee also is considering proposals to reduce maternal mortality, including grants to improve maternal health equity and tackle social determinants of health.
Further, the committee will consider two significant proposals of importance to essential hospitals, to close the coverage gap for low-income Americans in states that did not expand Medicaid and advance reforms to lower prescription drug prices.
The committee proposes to establish in 2025 a federal program similar to Medicaid for individuals in non-expansion states. Before 2025, the bill would offer cost-sharing subsidies and premium tax credits to assist such individuals in purchasing coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace.
The committee’s proposed drug pricing legislation would allow the health and human services secretary to negotiate the price of certain high-cost prescription drugs that lack competition. The negotiated price would apply to select drugs under the Medicare program and would be available for some drugs covered under a commercial health plan. Additionally, the committee’s proposal would establish mandatory rebates for drug manufacturers that increase prices for certain Medicare Part B and Part D drugs at a rate higher than inflation.
Fall Policy Assembly
America’s Essential Hospitals invites you to join us online for our fall Policy Assembly, Oct. 19–20. Attendees will gain insights on the status of the reconciliation legislation and the outlook for essential hospital advocacy priorities for the remainder of the year. Register today!