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.


Lawmakers Return for Start of the Second Session of the 117th Congress

The second session of the 117th Congress will commence this week when the Senate and House of Representatives return from holiday recess. Democrats continue to search for a path forward for President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better economic agenda and reconciliation package after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) stated his opposition to the bill in December. While lawmakers are working to revise the legislation to fit Manchin’s latest demands – a $1.75 trillion price ceiling with benefit programs lasting for 10 years - Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) initially stated that he will bring the plan for a vote this month, with or without support from Manchin. In the evenly divided Senate, Democrats need every member of their party to advance the bill through the reconciliation process.

Cole Previews Possible Supplemental Funding in Response to Omicron

Lawmakers are considering whether an emergency supplemental spending package will be necessary to support the nation’s response to the omicron variant, according to House Appropriations Labor-Health and Human Services- Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-Okla.). Cole stated in a recent interview that such a funding bill to provide additional resources to expand hospital and testing capacity could get bipartisan support early this year. A measure to fund the federal government beyond the expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR) on February 18 could serve as a vehicle for additional resources.

House Panel Investigates Concierge Medical Company

The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis is asserting that One Medical used its access to COVID-19 vaccines to increase its profits and membership for the company’s concierge medical services. According to a staff memo, many people faced difficulty booking a vaccination appointment without signing up for a paid membership service. “This unscrupulous conduct prevented these doses from protecting the health and lives of less privileged Americans at high risk from the coronavirus,” Chair James Clyburn (D-S.C.) stated. In its response to the report, One Medical stated that the panel mischaracterized the materials provided by the company.

Former Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid Dies at 82

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) passed away last week at the age of 82 from pancreatic cancer. During his time as Majority Leader Reid helped implement President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda, including passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He also set the precedent for deployment of the ‘nuclear option’ for the confirmation of presidential nominees and appellate court judges. Reid was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and was elected to the Senate four years later. He was the number two Democrat in the Senate from 1999 to 2005 and led the party in the upper chamber for the next decade before retiring in 2017.

More Lawmakers Experience Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases

Breakthrough coronavirus infections are expected to continue to impact members of Congress as the omicron variant surges across the nation. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Reps. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) are the latest lawmakers to announce having tested positive for COVID-19. Most lawmakers stated that they have experienced only mild symptoms, which they attributed to being fully vaccinated and boosted.

Supreme Court to Hold Session on Vaccine Mandates This Week

The Supreme Court will hold a special session on January 7 to consider both the large employer and health care worker COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The court has granted requests for divided arguments in each case. A group of 27 states with Republican attorneys general and a coalition of 26 business organizations are asking the court to halt the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) emergency rule requiring employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccinations or regular testing. Attorneys general in a Louisiana-led group of states and Missouri-led group of states are arguing against letting a mandate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requiring vaccinations for employees of facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs from taking effect nationwide.

In response to the litigation, CMS stated that the other 25 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories, as an exercise of enforcement discretion, the rule will be implemented and enforced on the following modified timeline: the deadline for Phase 1 implementation is January 27, 2022, and the deadline for Phase 2 implementation is February 28, 2022. To account for any uncertainty created by the stay, OSHA is exercising enforcement discretion with respect to the compliance dates of the ETS. To provide employers with sufficient time to come into compliance, OSHA will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS before January 10 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard. OSHA will work closely with the regulated community to provide compliance assistance.

Lawmakers Retiring in 2022

Dozens of members of Congress plan to retire from Capitol Hill at the conclusion of the 117th Congress. This is expected to have a particularly strong impact on Democrats, with the party trying to hold on to narrow majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Republicans only need to flip five seats to win the House in the 2022 midterm elections. To date, 23 House Democrats and 13 House Republicans have announced that they are not running for reelection, including:

  • Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.)
  • Filemon Vela (D-Texas)
  • Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.)
  • Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)
  • Charlie Crist (D-Fla.)
  • Val Demings (D-Fla.)
  • Conor Lamb (D-Pa.)
  • Ron Kind (D-Wis.)
  • Karen Bass (D-Calif.)
  • John Yarmuth (D-Ky.)
  • David Price (D-N.C.)
  • Mike Doyle (D-Pa.)
  • Anthony Brown (D-Md.)
  • Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)
  • G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.)
  • Peter Welch (D-Vt.)
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas)
  • Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.)
  • Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)
  • Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.)
  • Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.)
  • Albio Sires (D-N.J.)
  • Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.)
  • Tom Reed (R-N.Y.)
  • Jody Hice (R-Ga.)
  • Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)
  • Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.)
  • Kevin Brady (R-Texas)
  • Ted Budd (R-N.C.)
  • Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.)
  • Billy Long (R-Mo.)
  • Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio)
  • Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)
  • Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
  • Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) - effective Jan. 1, 2022

In the Senate, five Republicans – Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) – and one Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), have announced plans to retire.

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