Washington Update, August 2020

Washington Update

By Johanna Gray

As of this writing, the Congressional August recess is waning and all eyes turn to the September calendar, which holds several challenges for policymakers: 

The first challenge is that House and Senate leaders continue their negotiations among themselves and with the White House on another large COVID relief package.  While they were hoping to pass the next COVID bill earlier this summer, they remain far apart on the size, scope and contents of the package.  A number of policies included in earlier packages have expired due to their inaction, such as the enhanced unemployment payments to individuals.  But as the economic and health effects of COVID persist, there remains pressure for Congress to act.  

Congress also must pass the annual federal appropriations bills to fund the federal government before the start of the next fiscal year on October 1, 2020.  The House has passed two big omnibus spending bills to fund most of the federal government (including the health care programs most of interest to our community) but the Senate has yet to begin the process on its versions of the bills.  Accordingly, we expect that Congress will pass a continuing resolution to continue funding at current levels for at least some period of time (perhaps through the election, or maybe into January, when the new Congress takes office).  

I wouldn’t be surprised if these issues get combined as we get into September.  Congress could pass one big bill that funds the federal government and includes some COVID-related policies.  This package could also be a vehicle for other policies, such as ending surprise medical billing.  I think all of us are hopeful that they can reach agreement and avoid a government shutdown (just what 2020 needs!).  It’s shaping up to be an eventful fall.  We’ll continue to monitor all of this activity and advocate to protect funding for our programs and for policies that support our patient and provider communities.

Also in this Issue…

Notes from Joe
· Advocacy Matters!

Legal Update
· 340B Program Attacks: What You Need to Know and How to Respond

Payer Update
· HANS PPO Agreement: 32 signed, 75 to go!

Alliance Update

Notes from the Community
· Hemophilia Alliance Foundation Offers Additional Grant Opportunities for COVID-19 Patient Assistance