HealthCare Roundtable e-News – September 27, 2021

Save the Date

2021 Annual Conference

Monday, November 1 – Wednesday, November 3, 2021<

To protect the health and safety of our members and to maximize the opportunity for everyone to participate, this year’s conference will once again take place virtually. Our preliminary agenda, together with links to the conference registration form, can be found here.

Pelosi, Advocates Push for More Medicaid HCBS Funding in Reconciliation Package

As House Committees continue to refine provisions of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated that she would support more funding for Medicaid home- and community-based services in the final reconciliation bill than what has already been proposed. The House Energy & Commerce Committee passed a provision last week that would invest $190 billion in HCBS, though Pelosi told attendees at a Service Employees International Union rally last Thursday (Sept. 23) that she would like to see more funding considered.

Advocates of HCBS were glad to see more funding included in the Energy & Commerce committee’s bill but felt that the total proposed amount wouldn’t be enough to make Medicaid home care services widely available and also improve the quality of home care jobs. Prior to the union’s rally last week, April Verrett, president of SEIU Local 2015 and chair of the union’s National Home Care Council, said that the group wants to make sure the number gets “as close to $400 billion,” as possible.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have both shared their interest in increasing federal funding for home- and community-based services. Schumer has said he wants to expand the availability of HCBS to eliminate waitlists and improve labor standards for direct care workers, while Wyden co-sponsored a bill introduced in June that would invest $400 billion in HCBS. (InsideHealthPolicy)

Pallone Optimistic That Maternal Health Will Make It Into $3.5T Package

Last week, House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), told members of the Century Foundation during a media call that he does not anticipate the committee’s proposed bill to address maternal mortality rates will be cut from the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. As lawmakers begin to consider bills to be dismissed from the package in order to reduce its price tag, health advocates have pushed for maternal mortality rates to be included at all costs.

Pallone was joined by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), to discuss the proposed requirement of having states provide Medicaid postpartum coverage to new mothers for one year instead of the current 60 days. Moore also shared that she was confident the investments in doulas and midwives, in addition to extending Medicaid postpartum coverage, would survive scrutiny. (InsideHealthPolicy)

Earlier this month, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told constituents that he would fight to secure major investments in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, the proposed bill aims to save more mothers’ lives and end racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes, in the upcoming reconciliation bills after revealing research showing that pregnant Black moms are three times more likely to die and over twice as likely to have complicated births.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said “the disparities in access to quality health care services are most heavily felt by the low-income women that need these services to survive. If enacted, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act would establish equitable access to health care and would give offices like mine a stronger authority to hold discriminatory health care providers accountable.”

Children’s Health Advocates Push to Keep Permanent CHIP Proposals in Reconciliation Package

As lawmakers continue to trim down the proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, children’s health advocates are pushing to ensure that proposals to make the Children’s Health Insurance Program don’t get cut in an effort to reduce the package’s hefty price tag.

Advocates of children’s health, including the group First Focus on Children, are concerned lawmakers could cut those proposals from the plan in order to reduce the package’s overall costs. In a Sept. 23rd newsletter, First Focus informed supporters that advocates are “fighting to ensure that the package continues to provide long-term solutions to long-term problems, such as child poverty and hunger, while building the foundation for all children to thrive and prosper during and after our COVID-19 recovery.” (InsideHealthPolicy)

House Democrats within the Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means committees have passed their portions of the package that still maintain children’s health priorities; Energy & Commerce committee members have passed legislation that would extend Medicaid postpartum coverage to one year in addition to permanently funding CHIP, while Ways & Means members also passed a proposal earlier this month that would extend until 2025 the child tax credit that gives families a monthly payment of at least $250 per child. (InsideHealthPolicy)

FDA Authorizes Booster Shots of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for High-Risk Individuals and Those Over 65

Last Wednesday evening (Sept. 22), the FDA authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals over the age of 65, as well as those who are at high risk for severe disease and people who work in high-exposure settings. Individuals may receive their third shot of the vaccine six months after receiving their initial two-doses of the vaccine.

“This pandemic is dynamic and evolving, with new data about vaccine safety and effectiveness becoming available every day,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.. “As we learn more about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, including the use of a booster dose, we will continue to evaluate the rapidly changing science and keep the public informed.”

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also met last week and endorsed booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, aligning with the FDA’s authorization of the third shot. In addition to Americans age 65 and older, individuals 18 through 64 years of age who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 will be authorized for a third shot, as well as individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19.

Prior to the FDA’s third-shot authorization, an FDA panel rejected the endorsement of proposing a third booster shot to the general public, though in a separate vote panel members voted 18-0 in favor of extra shots for people 65 and older and those at risk of serious disease.