Congressional Corner

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Aug. 24, 2017

Congress

As recess continues on Capitol Hill, discussions are underway about upcoming must-pass legislation, such as raising the debt ceiling and funding for the federal government. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell maintains that Congress will raise the debt ceiling with a bill that is “clean.” Priority is also on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to produce a bill to stabilize the health insurance marketplace.

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released its score for the House of Representatives’ eight bill minibus and previously passed four bill minibus, which comes in $72 billion above the caps set for FY18. On the non-defense, discretionary side, the bills are $4 billion below the cap. If a spending bill exceeds the caps set by the Budget Control Act, the Office of Management and Budget would be required to implement an enforcement sequester or make across-the-board cuts to bring spending below caps.

As a reminder, hearings are scheduled to take place on Sept. 6-7 with insurance commissioners and governors. Governors set to testify include: Charlie Baker (MA), Steve Bullock (MT), Bill Haslam (TN), Gary Herbert (UT), and John Hickenlooper (CO). ASTHO will monitor these hearings and provide updates as appropriate. Lawmakers returning from recess on Sept. 5 will have only 12 legislative days to decide whether to pass a bill before insurers commit to participating in the 2018 health insurance exchanges.

In addition to work in the Senate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper are working on a joint plan to stabilize the health insurance markets. They hope to release the plan within the week and intend to have other governors sign on to show support at the state level. You can read about the plan’s guiding principles here.

Administration

On Aug. 17, the Trump administration proposed delaying implementation of a rule that would set a ceiling price on medicines acquired through the 340B discount drug program. Given the potential impact on state governmental public health programs, ASTHO created this background document. ASTHO will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary. If you have questions, please contact Carolyn McCoy, ASTHO’s senior director of government affairs.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that Rachel Sherman will serve as principal deputy commissioner in the Office of the Commissioner. “On behalf of the Commissioner, she provides leadership, management and policy direction in planning and implementing major crosscutting medical product or policy initiatives and special programs that are clinical, scientific or regulatory in nature.”