Pharma, Insurers And Hospitals All Got Stockings Stuffed With Goodies After Year Of Bearing Brunt Of Congressional Scolding
The sweeping spending measure passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last week contains lots of wins for an industry that has publicly been under attack for the past year. The success shows how formidable the health care industry remains.
The Washington Post:
Congress Showers Health Care Industry With Multibillion-Dollar Victory After Wagging Finger At It For Much Of 2019
Vilified by lawmakers from both parties for months, the health-care industry this year appeared to face an existential threat to its business model. But this week, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, insurance companies and medical device manufacturers practically ran the table in Congress, winning hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks and other gifts through old-fashioned lobbying, re-exerting their political prowess. “It’s the ‘no special interest left behind bill’ of 2019. That’s what it feels like this is,” said Andy Slavitt, a former health administrator who served in the Obama administration. “There’s no other explanation.” (Stein and Abutaleb, 12/20)
Other news from Capitol Hill focuses on surprise medical bills and toxins —
Lawmakers Take A Deeper Look At Surprise Billing Practices
Four congressional leaders who negotiated surprise billing legislation that was left out of Congress' year-end spending deal have expanded an investigation of balance billing practices to include insurers and physician staffing companies. Senate health committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), health committee ranking Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, House Energy & Commerce Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Energy & Commerce ranking Republican Greg Walden of Oregon on Thursday said they will home in on whether insurance companies refuse to negotiate reasonable reimbursement rates with some providers and on physician staffing companies' policies on sending patients surprise medical bills. (Cohrs, 12/20)
Lawmakers Back To Square One On 'Forever Chemicals'
Lawmakers must largely start anew after a major attempt to regulate a cancer-linked chemical that is spreading into the water supply across the United States was stripped from legislation this week, striking the best bet in years to address the problem. The class of chemicals abbreviated as PFAS is used in products ranging from raincoats to nonstick cookware to firefighting foam. It’s been deemed a “forever chemical” due to its lingering persistence in the environment and in the human body. (Beitsch, 12/22)