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.


Congress Adjourns for Summer Recess

Both the House and the Senate adjourned for a nearly two-month break on Thursday, in advance of the parties’ presidential nominating conventions followed by their normal August recess. Republicans will be in Cleveland for their convention this week, while Democrats head to Philadelphia the week of July 25. The chambers left Washington without passing funding to combat the Zika virus, or finishing their work on fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations bills. Senate Democrats had vowed to block both the Zika conference committee agreement, as well as appropriations legislation, citing their Republican colleagues’ use of ‘poison pill’ riders. The Senate has passed three of the 12 spending bills, and the House has passed four, but none have been sent to the president. It is all but certain that Congress will pass a stopgap measure known as a Continuing Resolution (CR) after members return on September 6 in order to avoid a government shutdown on October 1. What remains to be seen is how long that stopgap funding measure would last and whether it will leave appropriations work to the next Congress.

Senate Approves Opioid Conference Report

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the conference report to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), aimed at fighting opioid abuse and addiction. Despite concerns from the White House and Democratic lawmakers that the agreement did not include enough new funding to address prescription painkiller addiction, it was approved by a vote of 92-2 and did not receive a veto threat from the President. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) were the only senators to vote against the legislation. They argued that the problem of opioid abuse is better left to state and local governments to solve. Republican leadership pledged $500 million in funding to address this issue through the appropriations process. The bill had previously passed the House of Representatives, also with overwhelming support.

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