This week in Washington: Reconciliation talks continue.
On Sept. 17, Democratic leadership acknowledged that the reconciliation package will not be ready for a Sept. 27 vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had previously stated that the reconciliation package would be voted on together with the infrastructure bill on Sept. 27.
House Passes Bill Aimed at Avoiding Government Shutdown
On Sept. 21, the House voted 220-211 along party lines to pass a continuing resolution intended to prevent a government shutdown at the start of Oct. The House-approved package would lift the limit of federal borrowing, known as the debt ceiling, and fund the government at current levels through Dec. 3, 2021. The debt ceiling limit would be lifted until the end of 2022. The bill also includes funds for natural disaster recovery and Afghan refugees. The resolution now goes to the Senate, where it faces Republican opposition due to its inclusion of the debt ceiling. If the resolution does not pass by Oct. 1, funding for the government ends and the federal government will have to shut down.
Bipartisan Letter to President Biden Urges Increase of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
On Sept. 21, a group of 37 bipartisan representatives led by Reps. Susan Wild (D-PA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) wrote to President Biden requesting that the U.S. increase global COVID-19 vaccine supply and distribution efforts by redirecting unused vaccines and increasing vaccine production. The letter also asks President Biden to enlist allies and partners in these efforts. The letter comes while the Biden administration is considering a booster shot regimen while a majority of the world’s population has not received a first dose.
Sen. Wyden Calls for Hospital Health Care Pricing Transparency Measures
On Sept. 20, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to express his support for improving transparency of hospital health care prices. In the letter, he observed that despite the recent Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System Proposed Rules, more needs to be done. He called for finalizing policies that increase the accessibility of price data for consumers and researchers.
MACPAC Holds September Meeting
On Sept. 23 and 24, the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) held a public meeting. For more information on the meeting, click here.
Finance Committee Members Request Stakeholder Input on Behavioral Health Care Improvements
On Sept. 21, chair and ranking member of the Finance Committee Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) wrote a letter requesting stakeholder input on how Congress can best address behavioral health challenges. The senators stated they are particularly interested in ideas to improve the behavioral health workforce, increase access to care, ensure parity between behavioral and physical health care and advance telehealth. The letter can be found here.
Read more in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.