Congress Returns from August Recess

September 17, 2019

Congress has returned to Washington, DC, to face multiple issues that could affect GNYHA members in the coming months. We prepared the attached white paper outlining our current legislative priorities, which include Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) cuts, surprise billing legislation, graduate medical education, drug pricing, and infrastructure.

Congress’s top priority in September will be to pass a spending bill for Federal fiscal year (FY) 2020 before it begins on October 1. Congress will likely pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to prevent a government shutdown while negotiations on the full-year spending package continue.

Both long- and short-term spending bills often serve as vehicles for other legislative proposals, and GNYHA will advocate to include our priorities in any legislation that passes. Specifically, spending legislation is an appropriate vehicle to address our top priority, the delay of the Medicaid DSH cuts. It also could serve as a vehicle for legislation to address the nation’s worsening physician shortage by funding additional Medicare-reimbursed residency slots, such as the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 (H.R. 3414), which recently passed the House Ways & Means Committee.

Surprise billing legislation also remains a top priority for Congress. GNYHA’s position is that Congress should address surprise medical bills, but that any proposal that passes must not include the setting of benchmark rates. New York State’s surprise billing law is an ideal model for Congress to follow. An outline of our surprise billing principles can be found here.

Over the summer, both the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee passed surprise billing proposals that set benchmark rates. We expect two more House committees, the Ways & Means Committee and the Education & Labor Committee, to release proposals. We remain in close contact with all health committees to educate them on this issue. We also continue to engage with members of the New York Congressional delegation, especially Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and those who serve on committees of jurisdiction.

GNYHA continues to monitor Congressional efforts on drug pricing and we have met with the Senate Finance Committee to discuss our concerns with its proposal, the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act. We also continue to educate lawmakers and staff on the need to pass legislation to address the nation’s deteriorating hospital infrastructure. GNYHA’s legislative proposal to address this vital issue can be found here.

We will keep our members apprised of any relevant developments on Capitol Hill.

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