Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


House Proceeds to Second Minibus Spending Bill

The House of Representatives passed its first fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bill last week. The $1 trillion package (H.R. 2740) provides funding for Defense, Energy and Water, Labor-Health and Human Services- Education, and State-Foreign Operations and was passed by a 226-203 vote. No Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the measure, which the White House has threatened to veto. Following passage of H.R. 2740, the House began consideration of its second minibus (H.R. 3055) which provides funding for Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration, Commerce-Justice- Science, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-Veterans’ Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. The bill includes a total of $320 billion in discretionary spending. The House approved dozens of amendments to the package last week, including changes that would prohibit the Department of Justice (DOJ) from interfering with tribal and state cannabis programs and an amendment to bar the DOJ from using funds for litigation to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The White House has also threatened to veto H.R. 3055 due to overall spending levels for non-defense programs and the prohibition of funding for some of the President’s top priorities, such as construction of a border wall. House consideration of the Financial Services- General Government appropriations bill (H.R. 3351) is expected to begin this week.

The Senate has yet to take up any FY 2020 spending bills as chamber leadership continues negotiations on top-line spending numbers. Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has stated that if a budget caps agreement cannot be reached by July 1, he would prefer to deem a set of numbers in order to allow appropriators to start drafting bills.

House Passes Medicaid Extenders Bill

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 3252, the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019 last week by a vote of 371-46. The bill would extend funding for several Medicaid programs, including the Excellence in Mental Health Demonstration pilot program and the Money Follows the Person program. Both are scheduled to expire later this year. The bill would extend a provision that disregards a spouse’s income when determining home and community-based services eligibility and increase amounts in the Medicaid Improvement Fund. H.R. 3252 would also modify how Medicaid drug rebates are calculated and expand the authority of State Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control Units to investigate patient abuse. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.

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