Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


McConnell Adamant about Avoiding Government Shutdown

The Senate has adjourned for a five week-recess and will not return until September 8, at which point Congress will continue work to pass a funding bill in order to avoid a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he will not allow a government shutdown to occur, and has acknowledged that he is open to negotiating with Democrats in order to avoid a shutdown when budget authority expires at the end of September. Prior to this announcement, the majority leader had refused to agree to any bipartisan budget talks. Democrats have pledged to block all spending bills until budget negotiations take place. The White House and Democrats in Congress want to increase the budget caps put in place by sequestration, and have demanded a $125 billion two-year sequester deal, or a $75 billion one-year deal – with caps raised equally between defense and non-defense spending. It is likely that Congress will pass a short term continuing resolution to keep the government open through the end of 2015. While funding the government and preventing a shutdown will be the priority when Congress returns from August recess, the debt ceiling will also have to be lifted later this year. The U.S. is coming close to reaching the $18.1 trillion debt ceiling set by Congress in February of 2014. Although the deadline for lifting the limit is unclear, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has warned that it could occur as early as the end of October. After the conclusion of the August recess, the House will have 45 legislative days before the end of the calendar year, and the Senate will have 60.

CDC Announces Funding to Help States Address Infectious Disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced $110 million in awards to states and communities to strengthen capacities to track and respond to infectious diseases. This increase in funding will be dedicated to vaccine-preventable disease surveillance, foodborne disease prevention, advanced molecular detection, fighting Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, and responding to potential outbreaks of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus. The funds will help support outbreak response, public health laboratories, and health information systems. These awards represent an increase of $13 million over 2014 funding levels.

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