Week in Washington is brought to you by Michael Cohen, PhD. Tune in each week to read the latest on healthcare policy and get a glimpse of what’s on the horizon.
Week of Washington
All eyes these days are on Congress as there a number of end of year items including defense authorization, potential government shutdown, and debt ceiling. All of the items must be passed in the coming days/weeks. The expectation is that the Senate will first finalize defense authorization before turning to other matters.
Given the number of items that are getting priority; other items are getting pushed back. This includes Build Back Better. Currently the Senate parliamentarian is reviewing the House passed Bill. Senate Majority Schumer is targeting a mid-December vote but that may slip until next year.
Also being affected by the logjam is the issue of Medicare Sequestration. Currently large sequestration effects (both the expiring of the Medicare sequester moratorium and the Pay-Go related sequestration) are projected to be in effect in 2022, absent Congressional Action. While the issue is being discussed in Congress, its’ unclear when or if the issue will be addressed.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health organization. The ruling, expected in May/June of next year, could have significant effects on abortion coverage in the United States.
SCOTUS will also hear, in the coming weeks, the case of the American Hospital Association v. Becerra. The case directly involves HHS’ ability to reduce payments for the 340B program to hospitals. If AHA wins, it could result in payments (and even retroactive payments) to hospitals. More generally, the case could have an impact on something called the Chevron Deference. Currently, Administrations have some degree of latitude in setting regulations. A significant change to this concept would significantly restrict the scope and type of regulations that could be issued by the Federal government.
The first case of the Omicron variant has been documented in the US. While data is sparse, there is concern that the new variant could pose a greater risk of reinfection/immune escape-ability.
The Biden Administration announced that guidance would be forthcoming that would require private insurers to cover over the counter COVID tests during the public health emergency.
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