The Weekly Update 9/5/2023

Good morning, everyone!  We hope you enjoyed the Labor Day weekend and were able to find some time to relax. Your author enjoyed the closing of his community pool and the kids returning to school. Speaking of which, much like my fantasy football draft this week, the Senate returns to action today and is in session, while the House returns next week. The upper chamber has not cast a vote in 40 days. With much to do in the remaining days of September, the countdown on a government shutdown continues. In other news, the First Lady has tested positive for COVID under the new variant BA.2.86 – which I believe is close to a name of a Stars Wars droid. So far President Biden tested negative. With the Senate moving forward on appropriations and the House returning next week…. Welcome to the Week Ahead!

The Administration

As we mentioned last week, the Administration named the first ten Part D drugs to be negotiated by Medicare in 2026 under the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) Medicare Drug Negotiation Program. CMS stated these drugs represent over $50 billion in Part D gross prescription drug costs. The next step is for manufacturers of these drugs to enter negotiations with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). After the negotiations, CMS will publish the negotiated prices for the selected drugs no later than September 1, 2024. The negotiated prices will go into effect on January 1, 2026.

On September 1, CMS also released their anticipated proposed rule outlining nursing home staffing requirements. Among other requirements, according to CMS, the proposed rule consists of three core staffing proposals: 1) minimum nurse staffing standards of 0.55 hours per resident day (HPRD) for Registered Nurses (RNs) and 2.45 HPRD for Nurse Aides (NAs); 2) a requirement to have an RN onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and 3) enhanced facility assessment requirements. There will be a 60-day comment period for the proposed rule. All comments must be submitted no later than November 6.

The Senate

The Senate is in session this week and looks to get into several legislative items this month. On Friday, Majority Leader Schumer sent a Dear Colleague Letter outlining his plans for the upper chamber in September. The Senate plans to lead the way in the government funding salvo by working on passage of a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government. The hope is to bring to the floor noncontroversial appropriation bills this week to include Military Construction-VA, Transportation-HUD and Agriculture-FDA. On September 13, the Senate will begin its forums on understanding artificial intelligence (AI) by convening AI developers, advocates, researchers, and others. The forums plan to address the potential use of AI in a myriad of environments to include healthcare, among others. Other topics Schumer planned to address include in a bipartisan manner include lowering the cost of insulin and prescription drugs, online safety, aiding Ukraine, addressing rail safety, and artificial intelligence.

The House

The House remains out until Tuesday, September 12 but the Energy and Commerce Committee continues to work behind the scenes on informal PAHPA discussions with Senate HELP staff. The lack of a government funding agreement does mean that health legislation will have to be down the priority list for members and leadership in September. Energy and Commerce does have a lot of hearings and markups scheduled, which will cover the entire jurisdiction of the committee. Notable healthcare markups include one on drug shortages (9/14 at 10am), Medicare innovation (9/19 at 10am) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Implementation (9/20 at 2pm). More clarity on health bills will likely materialize once members return, so we will continue talking with staff and members and keep you apprised of information on pertinent items.

No further action has taken place with regards to the government funding intrigue in the House Republicans Caucus. The House and Senate remain at odds with timing for a potential CR as well as the likelihood of a government shutdown.  Please stay tuned as the story continues to develop!

Create a great week!

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