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.


Supreme Court Rejects ACA Challenge

The Supreme Court rejected the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a 7-2 ruling last week. The court held that the Republican- controlled states and two individuals who brought the lawsuit could not prove they were injured. Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, stating that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to go to court. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined Justice Samuel Alito in the dissenting opinion, arguing that “no one can fail to be impressed by the lengths to which this court has been willing to go to defend the ACA against all threats.”

House Dems Adopt Deeming Resolution

Democrats in the House of Representatives have adopted a 302(a) topline spending level of $1.5 trillion for fiscal year (FY) 2022 spending. The deeming proposal (H.Res. 467) does not specify funding levels for defense and nondefense spending and does not influence Senate allocations. Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) stated that he hopes the Senate will begin marking up appropriations legislation in July. Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has said that he expects multiple continuing resolutions (CR) will be necessary to fund the federal government beyond September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

HELP Advances Health Nominees

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced the nominations of Dawn O’Connell to serve as Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and Miriam Delphin-Rittmon for Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), each by a vote of 20-2. O’Connell has been a senior counselor for the COVID-19 response since the start of the Biden administration, having previously served as the director of the U.S. Office of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. Delphin-Rittmon is Associate Professor Adjunct of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Congressional Tri-Caucus Pushes for Medicaid Expansion

Members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus, comprised of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, sent letters to President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and congressional leadership urging the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage in those states that have yet to do so. The lawmakers suggest using the American Families Plan to close any remaining Medicaid coverage gaps, arguing that this is “one of the single most important steps” to reduce U.S. health inequities. “Addressing the Medicaid coverage gap is critical both in correcting decades of unacceptable and unjust denial of health care coverage to underserved and minority populations throughout the United States and in protecting our nation from future pandemics,” the letter states.

Members Call for Postpartum Medicaid Expansion and Passage of Momnibus

Agroup of more than 160 congressional Democrats have sent a letter to Democratic leadership in support of permanently expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage for a year in the next recovery package, and to include provisions aimed at reducing maternal mortality for women of color. The lawmakers argue that these policies “are necessary investments that will save lives, promote health equity, and advance the fundamental principle that in America, every family has a right to thrive—a principle that begins with a safe and healthy pregnancy and birth.” The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any high-income country and the only rate that is rising, and the pregnancy- related mortality rate for Black women in the U.S. is three to four times higher than the rate for white women.

Becerra, Manchin Comment on Lack of Permanent FDA Leader

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra stated last week that the President needs more time to determine who will lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a permanent basis. Janet Woodcock is currently serving as acting commissioner, a position she will likely only be allowed to remain in until sometime in August. Woodcock has faced criticism in recent weeks for the agency’s decision to approve Biogen Inc.’s Aduhelm for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease despite opposition from the FDA’s independent advisory committee. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) sent a letter to the administration last week urging the President to quickly replace Woodcock with an ‘acceptable’ permanent leader. He states that the agency’s decision to go against its advisory committee’s recommendations on Aduhelm “underscores the fact that more of the same leadership at the agency is not the answer... You need to nominate a commissioner suited to address our public health challenges immediately, to set your agenda at this crucial agency for your first year, and give the Senate time to consider your nominee.”

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