Prior to departing Washington, DC for their August recess, legislators adopted a quick pace in July and ASAHP was active in efforts to influence bills under consideration. The House Energy and Commerce Committee attracted noteworthy attention by approving 25 bills, including H.R. 2781, the Educating Medical Professionals and Optimizing Workforce Efficiency and Readiness (EMPOWER) for Health Act of 2019 that contains a provision to provide $5 million annually to support diversity efforts in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech- language pathology. Association staff worked with both the Committee and other professional associations in supporting this effort. They also have been working closely with House Ways and Means Committee staff in support of H.R. 3398, the Pathways to Health Careers Act, a measure to reauthorize the Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG program) that is set to expire on September 30.
Budget issues and appropriations are topics that have a tendency to attract significant amounts of attention at this time of year. A major breakthrough occurred when the Senate passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal (H.R. 3877) on a vote of 67-28 to increase budget caps, raise the nation’s borrowing limit, and develop a pathway to fiscal year 2020 government funding, which begins this coming October 1. President Trump signed the arrangement into law (P.L. 116-37) on August 2, 2019. As a result, spending will increase by $320 billion above current levels and the debt ceiling will be lifted for two years. The new law also is expected to add $1.7 trillion to the national deficit over the next 10 years in comparison to automatic spending cuts known as sequestration that otherwise would occur without such an agreement.
The next important piece on the legislative agenda is passage of appropriations bills. Ten of the necessary 12 bills already have been passed by the House. The Senate has not passed a single spending bill, but is expected to direct its attention to this matter when its members return to Capitol Hill on September 9. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will not allow his chamber to begin marking up and passing appropriations bills without producing a budget caps deal on total spending levels for defense and non-defense domestic programs.
High prices associated with the cost of drugs is a problem that continues to be of concern. Bipartisan leaders of both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee have initiated discussions on how to integrate their respective activities involving drug pricing and health care costs prior to measures pertaining to these topics being brought for a vote on the Senate floor. Democrats in that chamber have a strong interest in producing legislation that will enable the Medicare program to negotiate drug prices. A parallel effort involves the inclusion of a provision to require manufacturers to disclose the price of drugs in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising.
Additionally, the Senate has expressed interest in establishing a national telehealth program by introducing S. 2408 and also by introducing S. 2411 to create a rural health center innovation awards program and a rural health department enhancement program.
CHALLENGES INVOLVED IN DOING THE RIGHT THING
Indicates the importance of providing appropriate health care based on accurate diagnoses. Read More
PRESIDENT’S CORNER—ASAHP MEMBER FOCUS
Susan Hanrahan offers her thoughts on the upcoming ASAHP Annual Conference, the Institutional Profile Survey, and other relevant activities of the Association. Read More
ACCELERATED PACE ON CAPITOL HILL
Describes legislation involving the budget, appropriations, the health workforce, along with telehealth and rural health proposed initiatives. Read More
HEALTH REFORM DEVELOPMENTS
Discusses efforts to enhance quality care in hospitals and the potential impact of reimbursing at Medicare rates on the health insurance exchanges. Read More
DEVELOPMENTS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Summarizes recent activity by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, and repeal of the “Gainful Employment” regulation. Read More
QUICK STAT (SHORT, TIMELY, AND TOPICAL)
Aerobic Activity And Time Spent On Sedentary Behavior Among U.S. Adults
Unintentional Injury And Death Rates In U.S. Rural And Urban Areas
Achieving Better Health Care Integration Of Radiology
Manufacture Of Thread-Based Transistors For A Wide Range Of Health Applications Read More
AVAILABLE RESOURCES ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONICALLY
Investing In Interventions That Address Non-Medical, Health-Related Social Needs
Joint Commission Educational Campaign On Preventing Falls
A New Proposed Fix On Long-Term Care Read More
GAP BETWEEN WHAT IS SAID BY PROVIDERS AND HEARD BY PATIENTS
Mentions how health professionals and patients may not always have the same amount of understanding of statements involving treatability. Read More
ASSESSMENT OF ADULT COMPETENCIES
Refers to data from the National Center for Education Statistics on the topic of adult literacy. Read More