Congress set to wrap up a busy year

December 20, 2019

Congress is poised to adjourn for the year after voting this week to fund the government through Sept. 30. The House passed the spending measures by a large margin on Tuesday. The Senate is expected to follow suit by Thursday.

In addition to funding federal agencies, the measures delay Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment cuts through May 22, 2020. The cuts were due to take effect on Dec. 21. They also included several extensions of current health care programs, including the National Health Service Corps, the Teaching Health Centers program, the Conrad State 30 J-1 Visa Program and Community Health Centers.

The bill also repeals the so-called “Cadillac” tax on high-value insurance plans, the health insurance tax and the medical device tax, all of which were enacted in the Affordable Care Act to offset the cost of expanding health coverage. Left out of the package was a last-minute proposal to prohibit surprise medical bills. The plan would have used rate-setting to revolve payment disputes between providers and health plans. Lawmakers are expected to consider surprise billing next year.

Also missing from the final bill was a drug pricing plan. Congress will reconvene for the 2020 session on Jan. (John Flink)


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