NAHC Ready for Congress to Return
September 7, 2016 01:58 PM
As the August congressional recess comes to an end, NAHC is prepared for Congress to return after Labor Day. Both the House and Senate are expected to be in session for about one month, although it may be shorter, before adjourning again to campaign for the November 8th election. This means the month of September is the last chance for legislative activity before the election and “lame duck” session. While NAHC expects September to be dominated by debate on funding the government and Zika response funding, there will also be a flurry of activity within committees and from individual members utilizing the last few days to introduce legislation and make political and policy statements.
The top debate when Congress returns will be regarding funding the federal government to avert a pre-election shutdown, as the current funding expires September 30th. Much of this debate will be centered around the length of a funding stopgap bill, with some members of congress wanting the stopgap measure to run into the new year with a new President to negotiate with, while other members are demanding a short term bill to expire during the “lame duck” session of congress. Alongside these negotiations will be discussions of how to fund a Zika response. The medical innovation bill, 21st Century Cures Act, is another bill that may see consideration by the full House and Senate. NAHC is closely monitoring this process, largely to eye any potential vehicles for our own priorities to move, as well as to make sure no troublesome provisions are added to any must-pass spending bill or healthcare legislation.
Looking past the larger debates of spending, NAHC is engaging with and following committee-level activity. The Ways and Means Health Subcommittee will be holding a hearing on September 7th, titled “Incentivizing Quality Outcomes in Medicare Part A.” NAHC expects this hearing will have a robust discussion about value based purchasing for post-acute care. While this hearing is not expected to focus on any specific legislation, NAHC will be monitoring this hearing for priorities we continue to share with the committee from an early version of legislation. It is also possible that the Senate Finance Committee will release the long-awaited legislation produced by its bipartisan chronic care working group, although it is not likely to be advanced during this session of congress. As this is one of the last opportunities this congress and before this election, many members of congress may introduce various healthcare-related bills to make statements or solicit feedback prior to reintroduction the following year.
NAHC will be spending much time in September pushing forward priorities, including but not limited to repealing or revising the face-to-face physician encounter requirements, allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to order Medicare home health services, and rejecting the inclusion of the hospice benefit under Medicare Advantage. NAHC will also continue to engage with Congress to encourage CMS to halt the troubled pre-claim review home health demonstration project.