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Healthcare Today - March 22, 2024


Congressional Appropriations Leadership Releases Second FY2024 Minibus Text: After a multiple-day delay, Congressional appropriations leadership released the1,000-page text of a six-bill funding minibus before Friday’s coming shutdown, including funding for HHS. HHS is set to get a slight increase in funding, an increase of $955 million above current funding to more than $117billion. The proposed less-than-1% bump does not keep pace with inflation, however. Provisions included in the bill:

o   $300million increase in base funding for NIH;

o   $23million increase in funding for the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Modernization Initiative;

o   $125million for the State Department for the State Department to counter the flow of illicit fentanyl;

o   $65million increase for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority;

o   No other policies, such as PBM reform, Durable Medical Equipment relief, or community health center provisions were included.

House members passed the $1.2 trillion funding package Friday morning, leaving the Senate hours to act before tonight’s deadline before partial shutdown; all 100Senators would have to agree to support a fast-track for the minibus package or pass a temporary CR.

Secretary Becerra Testifies on 2025 HHS Budget Request: On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra testified before both the House Ways and Means and House Appropriations Committee to defend HHS’FY2025 budget request. Sec. Becerra stated his support for more HHS funding to implement President Biden’s proposed programs, but legislators from both parties pressed him on the Change Healthcare cyberattack response, CMS’ policy for serving rural communities, new nursing home requirements, HHS’ review of cannabis treatments, and the lack of PBM reform provisions in the budget request.  

House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Legislative Markup: On Wednesday, the House Energy & Commerce Committee held a legislative markup upon including several health program reauthorization bills, all of which passed for Floor consideration, presumably as part of a legislative package. Legislators unanimously passed the BOLD Infrastructure for Alzheimer's Reauthorization Act, SIREN Reauthorization Act, HEARTS Act, and Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act. Democrats expressed opposition and voted against only one health-related bill, the Kidney PATIENT Act.

President Biden Signs Executive Order Promoting Women’s Health Research: President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday promoting women's health research as the country continues to celebrate Women's History Month. Biden's executive order will support research into women's midlife health and diseases that are prevalent after menopause, including heart disease and osteoporosis. The order will also focus on conditions that affect women disproportionately, including Alzheimer's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

House Passes Bill Extending CBO Scoring Window for Preventative Services: On Tuesday, the U.S. House passed legislation by voice vote extending the Congressional Budget Office's fiscal evaluation window to a 30-year span for legislation advancing evidence-based preventive services. The Preventive Health Savings Act, led by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), would mark a departure from the traditional 10-year scoring system. Rep. Burgess stated a new system will provide a fuller analysis of the long-term budget savings of preventative health initiatives and “reduce the country's rate of chronic illness.”

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