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.


Reconciliation Package Sent to President for His Signature

The House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act on a party line 220-207 vote last week. The $437 billion tax, climate, and health package gives the Medicare program authority to set the price of certain high-expenditure prescription drugs, in both Part B and Part D. The legislation would also cap out- of-pocket Part D spending at $2,000 per year and extend expanded Affordable Care Act premium subsidies for three years. It includes a $35 insulin cap for Medicare beneficiaries. The measure also includes $374 billion for energy and climate programs. It would establish a 15% corporate minimum tax on large firms, a 1% excise tax on the value of stock buybacks, and an $80 billion increase to the Internal Revenue Service budget for tax enforcement. Congress has now adjourned for August recess, with the Senate scheduled to return on September 6 and the House of Representatives scheduled to return on September 13. President Biden plans to sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law this week.

Lawmakers Ask WH to Prioritize MCED Tests

Abipartisan group of 22 members of the House of Representatives have sent a letter to the Biden administration urging them to prioritize new and affordable blood-based, multi-cancer early detection (MCED) screenings for women as a part of the Cancer Moonshot. “Unfortunately, bureaucratic entanglements are preventing most women from accessing MCED tests,” the letter states. They ask for the administration’s help in ensuring more women have access to these promising technologies.

Warren Asks Health Care Providers About Impact of Abortion Bans

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has sent letters to five health care provider organizations requesting information about how state bans on abortion have affected women’s access to pregnancy care, reproductive care, and non- reproductive care. Warren asks how state-imposed restrictions on abortion care have affected physicians, and what guidance has been given to health care providers about how to perform their duties considering such restrictions. The letters were sent to the American Medical Association, Physicians for Reproductive Health, National Nurses United, American Pharmacists Association, and the American Hospital Association.

Proxy Voting in House Extended Through September

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the House of Representative’s temporary practice of proxy voting will be extended through at least September 26. The chamber has used the option of remote voting since May 2020, when it was first instituted in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans have stated that they will end the use of proxy voting if they retake the House majority this November.

Washington Republican Herrera Beutler Loses Primary Race

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) lost her primary race against Joe Kent, a former Army Green Beret, last week. Her challenger was backed by former President Donald Trump in the primary for Washington’s 3rd district. Beutler is the third House Republican to lose to a primary challenger after voting to impeach Trump following the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, along with Reps. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) and Peter Meijer (R-Mich.). She is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. In other election news, party leaders in Indiana’s 2nd congressional district will meet on August 26 to select a nominee for the special election to finish Rep. Jackie Walorski’s (R-Ind.) term and to run in the general election for a new full two-year term. Walorski and two staffers died in a car crash earlier this month.

President Signs PACT Act Into Law

President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act into law last week. The bill would expand health benefits for the approximately 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits and substances like Agent Orange while on active duty. It will also require research into the effects of such toxic exposures. During the bill signing, the President spoke to the impact of this issue on his own family. Biden’s son, Beau, died from brain cancer in 2015, after having served in Iraq near burn pits.

CDC Updates COVID-19 Guidance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it is streamlining its COVID-19 guidance to help the public protect themselves and understand their risk for COVID-19. Amongst other recommendation, the CDC is

  • Updating its guidance for people who are not up to date on COVID-19 vaccines on what to do if exposed to someone with COVID-19 to be consistent with the existing guidance for people who are up to date on COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Recommending that instead of quarantining if you were exposed to COVID-19, you wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day five.
  • Reiterating that regardless of vaccination status, you should isolate from others when you have COVID-19.
  • Recommending that if you test positive for COVID-19, you stay home for at least five days and isolate from others in your home.
  • If after five days you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication, and your symptoms are improving, or you never had symptoms, you may end isolation after day five.
  • Regardless of when you end isolation, avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11.
  • You should wear a high-quality mask through day 10.
  • Recommending that if you had moderate illness or severe illness due to COVID-19 or have a weakened immune system, you need to isolate through day 10.
  • Clarifying that after you have ended isolation, if your COVID-19 symptoms worsen, restart your isolation at day 0.
  • Screening testing of asymptomatic people without known exposures will no longer be recommended in most community settings.

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