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The lame-duck Congress is back in Washington with a long list of bills it would like to pass and a short time to do it before Republicans take over the House majority in January. How many health-related items can be accomplished depends largely on how much money Congress agrees to spend overall, as it hashes out the annual federal spending bills.
Meanwhile, some of the remaining states that have not yet expanded the Medicaid program may be warming up to the idea, particularly North Carolina and Kansas, which have Democratic governors and Republican legislatures.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
How much the lame-duck Congress manages to accomplish will partly hinge on whether congressional leaders opt for an omnibus spending bill — which would complete the unfinished spending bills through September 2023 — versus a continuing resolution, which would simply extend what’s already on the books into sometime in the new year. Bottom line: Health priorities are competing for a pot of money, but it’s unclear how large that pot will be. Some insiders describe it as a traffic jam.
At the top of that list are FDA reforms that didn’t make it into the prescription drug user-fee reauthorization bill that passed this year. Lawmakers fought to keep that measure “clean,” leaving the door open to tackle some leftover issues. What, if anything, will make the final cut is yet to be seen.
Other things on the lame-duck list include reversing a 4% scheduled cut to Medicare providers’ reimbursements; weighing proposals related to pandemic preparedness; addressing Medicaid funding for U.S. territories; addressing the end of the public health emergency; and scrutinizing telehealth policy.
Among the states that have yet to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, action is possible by those with a Democratic governor and Republican legislature — Kansas and North Carolina, in particular. Advocates are targeting such places because coverage for hun …