A Difficult Lame Duck Is On the Horizon for Congress in November

NASL, 10/7/2016 -

Prior to adjournment, Congress passed and President Obama signed, a continuing resolution that provided the Government with funding for the next 10 weeks, but Congress will have a heavy lift when it returns following the November elections. Leaders and the White House will have to determine how to wrap up the 11 remaining fiscal year 2017 appropriations bills, solve disputes that bogged down negotiations over the continuing resolution and merge the vastly different spending bills that emerged from the House and Senate committees.

Congress will also push for several health care initiatives during the upcoming lame duck session and other “must-pass” proposals.  Attention is also focused on whether Congress will pass 21st Century Cures legislation. Both the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said they want to pass the 21st Century Cures Act when lawmakers return before a new president takes office. But getting the legislation passed would likely involve a lot of horse trading that could include funding for separate initiatives sought by the White House, congressional Republicans and Democrats. 

Attention might also be given to the adoption of H.R. 3298, the Medicare Post-Acute Care Value-based Purchasing Act of 2015 – which NASL opposes in its current form, during the lame duck session. There also appears to be broad consensus that Congress could address the following health care priorities:  blocking CMS' proposed Medicare Part B Drug Payment Model demonstration proposal; averting Part B premium spikes for Medicare beneficiaries; addressing Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative; and providing additional mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health.  Additionally, President Obama and several health insurance companies want to save the health exchanges by adding reinsurance and risk corridors. However, a lot more money would be needed to pay for a growing list of priorities for all the parties involved.