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Senate Finance Committee Releases Health Extenders Legislation

December 12, 2019

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Len Marquez, Senior Director, Government Relations
Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Dec. 6 released a broad agreement that includes an elimination of Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payment reductions for two years, a 10-year extension of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and an updated Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (S. 2543) and numerous health extenders.

AAMC Chief Public Policy Office Karen Fisher, JD issued a statement applauding the committee for its efforts on DSH and PCORI.  The statement highlighted that by “proposing to eliminate these [DSH] cuts for two years, the committee has taken a much-needed step in ensuring access for these patients who often have nowhere else to seek care.”

The statement went on to recognize that for PCORI to continue supporting comparative effectiveness research that benefits patients, clinicians, and other stakeholders, “it will be critical to ensure stability in funding for the institute over the next decade and beyond.” 

The two House of Representatives committees of jurisdiction approved separate bills to reauthorize PCORI earlier this year, with H.R. 3439 from Ways and Means providing a seven-year reauthorization, and H.R. 2328 from Energy and Commerce providing a three-year extension [see Washington Highlights, Nov. 22].

The bipartisan agreement also included a number of prescription drug proposals which include Medicare Part D benefit redesign, capping out of pocket costs that a beneficiary has to pay in one month, requiring Part D plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to take measures to reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

Chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) Dec. 12 proposed an alternative to the Grassley-Wyden legislation titled the Permanent Relief for Seniors and Medicare, Medicaid, Human Services Extension Act of 2019.  The proposal would delay the DSH cuts until Dec. 21, 2020 and then reduce state DSH allotments by $8 billion each year for fiscal years 2021 through 2028.

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