Washington Update, October 2020

Washington Update

By Johanna Gray

With waning days before the election, all eyes are turning away from Washington and towards the voting booths of Americans across the country. I hope that everyone is getting organized to vote in a few weeks and in the meantime, I’m pleased to provide a brief Washington update:

  • Federal Funding: Because it was unable to pass the regular federal funding bills before the start of fiscal year 2021 on October 1st, Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law a continuing resolution (or CR) to extend last year’s funding levels until December 11, 2020. This gives Congressional leaders a few more months – and gets them past the election in early November – to negotiate bills to fund the government. Congressional leaders say that they are going to start working and negotiating new bills before the December deadline, but there is also a good chance that they will either do another CR either for a few months until the start of the next Congress (and potential change in Presidential administration) in January, or for the full year. One note is that your HTC grants may come in pieces since full year funding has not yet been approved.
     
  • Public Health Emergency Extended: Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar recently extended the COVID-19 related public health emergency (PHE) for another 90 days, until mid-January 2021. That means that all of the waivers and new policies allowed during PHE, such as expansions for telehealth services in Medicare and Medicaid, will continue at least until then and of course, depending on the status as of January, it could be extended again. We’ll update the community as we get closer to the next expiration.
     
  • Committee Leaders Seek Input on 340B Modernization: Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) recently put out a request for information seeking policy ideas from stakeholders about 340B reform. What’s interesting is that both Members of Congress are retiring from Congress as of the end of the year, so it’s not clear whether they’re trying one last attempt at 340B policymaking before they leave (though that will be difficult without support from Democratic leaders who do not appear to be involved in the effort) or trying to set up their successors to hit the ground running in the new Congress in January. The Alliance will be responding to the RFI before the deadline at the end of October and will share our letter with members once finalized.

Also in this Issue…

Notes from Joe
· Improving Access to Care While Lowering Costs

Legal Update
· The ABCs of Indirect Cost Rates

Payer Update
· Payer Trends: What You Need to Know

Alliance Update
· Community Relations Update – October 2020
· Join Our Growing Hemophilia Alliance Team
· 2021 Meeting Schedule