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Legacy projects to watch for in a lame duck

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Apr 29, 2024
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

McMorris Rodgers. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The unusually large number of health policy veterans leaving Congress this year is creating a logjam of legacy bills and causes for a lame-duck session.

Why it matters: Lawmakers often go out of their way to accommodate retiring colleagues, and there are some big asks on health price transparency, weight-loss drugs, the 340B drug discount programs and provider issues.

Some key players trying to cement their legacies:

House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers

  • Rodgers has made it clear that she's intent on getting the House health transparency package over the finish line in the Senate.
  • There was a near-agreement in March to include hospital and PBM transparency measures in the government funding deal. But it fell apart amid concerns it could sink the must-pass package.
  • Rodgers also wants the Senate to act on her bill to ban quality-adjusted life years from being used as a metric for determining a drug's value in federal health programs.
  • Other legislative priorities include the SUPPORT Act, PAHPA, drug shortages, extensions of pandemic telehealth flexibilities and Medicaid disability policies.

Rep. Michael Burgess

  • Burgess' Preventive Health Savings Act would change how the Congressional Budget Office scores health care legislation dealing with preventive services. The House passed it in March, and he's pressing for the Senate to do likewise.
  • Burgess is also intent on revamping the physician payment system and restrictions on physician-owned hospitals.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup

  • Wenstrup told Axios that he's hoping to reframe the discussion on health care from insurance coverage to the "actual health of America."
  • Part of that includes action on his push to secure Medicare coverage of blockbuster weight-loss drugs. He wants Ways and Means to hold a hearing on the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, or TROA.
  • He's also pushing for physician payment reform, as well as CBO scoring reform and preventing overdose deaths.
  • Wenstrup also said he wants to finish his chairmanship of the COVID Select Subcommittee by publishing a report that creates "a template for maybe a future we can predict a pandemic and prepare ourselves for it, protect ourselves from it and maybe even prevent it."

Rep. Larry Bucshon

  • Bucshon has long pushed for action on the VALID Act, which would give the FDA explicit authority to regulate laboratory developed tests.
  • The lawmaker also is prioritizing getting action on physician payment reform, prior authorization legislation and 340B transparency reform, per his office.

Sen. Mike Braun

  • Braun has several big health care bills that he wants action on before he leaves. One is the Promising Pathways Act which would give priority reviews to treatments for terminal diseases with limited or no other options, such as ALS.
  • The Senate bill which previously had no Democratic support before this year, now has eight Democratic co-sponsors (in addition to the 11 Republicans on board).
  • Braun also has a health care price transparency bill that's he working on with HELP Chair Bernie Sanders, which would require negotiated rates and cash prices between plans and providers to be published for shoppable hospital services.

Sen. Tom Carper

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