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.


Senate Blocks WH Rescission Request

The Senate rejected a request from President Trump to rescind $15 billion in unspent funds last week. The procedural vote on H.R. 3 to discharge the bill from the Senate Appropriations Committee failed 48-50. A simple majority was needed to advance the measure. Republicans Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) joined Democrats in voting against the legislation, which had already been passed by the House of Representatives. Sen. Collins warned against ceding spending authority to the White House, while Sen. Burr was unable to get an assurance that his amendment regarding the Land and Water Conservation Fund would receive a vote. The claw back plan would have impacted $8 billion at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), largely from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Friday was the deadline for Congress to act on the rescissions package. The White House’s plan to make additional claw back requests may no longer be realistic in light of last week’s vote.

Opioid-Related News Update

The House of Representatives completed two-weeks of scheduled votes on more than 70 opioid-related bills on Friday. The effort culminated in passage of H.R. 6, the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act, by a vote of 396-14. Thirteen Republicans and one Democrat voted against the legislation. This bipartisan bill aims to advance addiction treatment and recovery initiatives, improve prevention, and strengthen efforts to combat synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The package is comprised of 58 individual bills previously approved by the House. While the majority of legislation considered by the House had bipartisan support, many Democrats complained that the response did not go far enough to address the crisis. H.R. 6 is now expected to be sent to the Senate for consideration. It is unclear when it could receive a vote by the upper chamber, which has been working on its own legislative solutions to the opioid crisis. The White House issued a statement urging the Senate to “swiftly pass” the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced last week that they are accepting applications for Tribal Opioid Response Grants. The $50 million will go to tribes and tribal organizations to fund prevention, treatment, and recovery activities in response to the opioid crisis. The grants were appropriated through the omnibus spending bill approved in March 2018.

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