This Week in Washington: Fallout from debt ceiling holds up House floor action; SCOTUS rules to allow patients to sue nursing homes



House Speaker Faces Backlash Over Debt Ceiling Agreement

Led by members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, a group of 11 Republicans broke with their party on a routine procedural vote and paralyzed the House floor, tossing the week’s schedule into disarray. It is the first procedural vote to fail since 2002.

The members said the recently passed debt ceiling agreement, both in substance and in process, violated the promises McCarthy made to conservatives during the speakership vote in January.

The unhappy members have prevented votes on four GOP bills scheduled to be considered by the House. The House adjourned for the week with no path forward outlined.

However, the longer-term implications of this opposition are significant. The speaker and the House leadership will need to unite the Republican caucus in order to move crucial legislation like funding the government.

House Ways and Means Committee Marks Up Nine Bills

On June 7, the House Ways and Means Committee marked up nine bills. The healthcare bills that were considered include:

H.R. 3799, Custom Health Option and Individual Care Expense Arrangement (CHOICE) Act This legislation would codify a 2019 rule that allows employers to provide tax-advantaged funds when reimbursing employees for buying their own health insurance on the individual market.

H.R. 3798, Small Business Flexibility Act

This legislation would require the U.S. Treasury to notify businesses of various flexible healthcare coverage options available to them, including custom health option and individual care expense (CHOICE) arrangements, qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements and the small business healthcare tax credit.

H.R. 3800, Chronic Disease Flexible Coverage Act

This legislation would codify chronic disease management flexibilities and allow beneficiaries with high-deductible health plans in connection with health savings accounts to access 14 preventative care services related to chronic disease management. Beneficiaries would be able to access these services at no cost and before their minimum deductible is reached.

H.R. 1843, Telehealth Expansion Act of 2023

This legislation would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and permanently extend the exemption for telehealth services from certain high-deductible health plan rules. It would allow beneficiaries with high-deductible health plans to access telehealth services before they hit their minimum deductible.

H.R. 3797, Paperwork Burden Reduction Act

This legislation would allow employers to access 1095-B and 1095-C forms online and would end the requirement that both forms be mailed to employees. These forms are used to verify employee health insurance coverage.

H.R. 3801, Employer Reporting Improvement Act

This legislation would make changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) annual health insurance coverage data reporting requirement. It would grant employers more flexibility when providing personal information for employees, spouses and children to the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) and would extend the appeal window for incorrectly submitting information to the IRS to a minimum of 90 days. It would also implement a six-year statute of limitations on the IRS’s ability to assess penalties on small businesses.

In addition, the committee considered three bills related to identity theft and Social Security protections.

For more information, click here.

SCREENS Act Introduced

On June 7, Reps. Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Morelle (D-NY) introduced the Screening for Communities to Receive Early and Equitable Needed Services (SCREENS) for Cancer Act. The legislation would reauthorize the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) through 2028 and would help make cancer screening services more accessible. Sens. Baldwin (D-WI) and Collins (R-ME) introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

For more information, click here.


Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Healthcare Ownership and Consolidation

On June 8, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on corporate healthcare ownership and consolidation. Witnesses included:

  • Zack Cooper, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Public Health and Economics at Yale University
  • Shawn Martin, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Academy of Family Physicians
  • Karen Maddox, M.D., MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine at Washington University
  • Chris Thomas, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Hospital
  • Caroline Pearson, Executive Director of Peterson Center on Healthcare

For more information, click here.

Wyden and Pallone Urge CMS to Prevent More Coverage Losses Under Medicaid Redeterminations

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and ranking House Energy and Commerce Committee member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) wrote the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to urge the agency to use all the tools Congress has provided to prevent more coverage losses in states where early reports show thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries have lost coverage for procedural reasons. The members also requested that CMS immediately release the redetermination data that states must report that the agency has yet to produce.

Read more on healthcare policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Washington Healthcare Update.