The Week Ahead: President’s Budget Release and More

The daffodils are in full bloom in Washington and Congress and the administration are trying to make the most of the next 2 weeks before taking a break for the Easter holiday.  There’s a lot going on in DC, so let’s get to it!

The Administration

All eyes on are the President’s annual budget release which will set out the President’s priorities for the government heading into the November elections.

  • Pay attention to what the President is proposing that can be done through Executive Order or regulation vs. what needs Congressional action.  While the “dead on arrival” phrase is often used in Washington, some things will be deader than dead, if that’s a thing, but anything the President can do on his own is fair game.

On March 1, President Biden gave his third State of the Union address, leaning into issues that energize the Democratic base and remind viewers and voters of his accomplishments.  For health care, he:

  • promised to restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land, noting how red states have restricted access to IVF
  • expressed his desire to extend the Medicare insulin cap at $35/month to those with commercial insurance
  • made the case for expanding the number of prescription drugs subject to Medicare negotiations beyond current law

The Senate

The Senate took a victory lap over the weekend by passing a package of 6 bills to fund the government through September, including the Food and Drug Administration.  Congress now has 2 weeks to figure out how to fund the rest of the government before the March 22 deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown.

  • As an aside, how many times have we typed those words – avoiding a government shutdown – in the last few years?  We’ve lost count….

With immigration remaining at the forefront, the next set of bills, including Defense, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, won’t come so easily.

For health care, the Senate Finance Committee will host Sec. Becerra for a discussion of the President’s budget on March 14.  Yes, there will be partisanship but that isn’t what most interests us….

  • Watch for Senators’ priorities as they comment on the budget – this shows what each is championing and what might be able to move forward yet this year.

The House

The House comes back to take up 11 bipartisan bills coming out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee under suspension of the rules. But partisan tensions are sure to resume later in the week as the House brings up a resolution denouncing the Biden Administration’s immigration policy.

For health care, the focus is on the committees this week.  On March 12, the House Energy & Commerce Committee will be meeting to markup and move 19 bipartisan health-related bills, covering a wide range of issues, including maternal health, dementia treatment, cancer screening and a host of other initiatives. One bill of note that has garnered considerable attention is the “Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Reauthorization Act” (H.R. 7153), which seeks to raise awareness and provide resources to address the mental health issues facing the health care workforce.

Also, on March 12, the House Ways & Means Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled, “Enhancing Access to Care at Home in Rural and Underserved Communities,” which will include testimony from both patients and providers about the challenges in improving access to in-home care and to modernizing the delivery of care in rural and other underserved communities.

There You Have It

We at Chamber Hill Strategies, are counting down the days:

  • 10 days left of winter
  • 11 days till the men’s NCAA basketball tourney starts
  • 12 days to avoid a government shutdown

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