Opening Day Edition--Go Nats! (April 3, 2017)

Welcome back, friends! As we enter Week Two of the post-AHCA world, remember that there are a number of important health policy decisions still to come this year. The politics of the ACA will certainly rear its head in the coming weeks and months, but June 21st is the date that's marked on my calendar. Insurers will have to decide whether they will sell coverage on the Marketplaces in 2018 by that date, a decision with far-reaching implications. Additionally, there are the health care extenders left behind from MACRA CHIP, Mother Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), community health centers, therapy caps, special needs plans, and disproportionate share hospital payments. There will certainly be fire drills while serious conversations occur around health reform prior to that date, and we are here to assist you make sense of this familiar, yet unknown territory.

THIS WEEK IN THE HOUSE

  • The Ways & Means Committee does not have hearings scheduled this week, but held hearings on a number of important and moving issues in last month, including the Mother Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). MIECHV funding expires in September of this year.
  • The Energy & Commerce Committee is also quiet on the health front this week after having spent the past two weeks working on User Fee Reauthorization.

The House is set to vote on the following bills this week:

H.R. 1304 The Self-Insurance Protection Act

THIS WEEK IN THE SENATE

On Wednesday (4/5), the Senate HELP Committee will consider the nomination of Scott Gottlieb to serve as Commissioner of the FDA. Gottlieb's confirmation hearing is coming at a difficult time for FDA. President Trump is reportedly interested in taking action on drug prices, and certainly the Democrats are gearing up on that subject as well. While the User Fee Agreements will loom large over this nomination, we should expect Gottlieb to address drug pricing concerns, pharmaceutical innovation, and his past experience with the pharmaceutical industry.

The Judiciary Committee's ongoing confirmation of nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch is likely to take center stage this week. With the ability to filibuster Supreme Court nominees hanging in the balance, this is by far the most important story this week.

A BIPARTISAN SOLUTION TO HEALTH CARE?

There was a lot of chatter over the weekend about what a bipartisan health reform proposal would look like (here, and here, and here). While the talk is encouraging given the highly politicized nature of health care, talk is cheap once you are on Capitol Hill. When it comes to finding a bipartisan solution on the Hill, substance is critical. Speaker Ryan seemed to make clear last week that striking a deal between the factions in the Republican Party and moderate Democrats is a tight rope not worth testing when it comes to health care.

We are keeping our ears to the ground and will report back to you on any developments.