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DeBrunner Partner Recognized by Publication

City and State Pennsylvania has named DeBrunner & Associates’ Michael Chirieleison one of its “2022 Health Care Power 100.”

Since taking over the reins of DeBrunner & Associates’ Pennsylvania health care consulting, government relations, and advocacy practice, Mike has pushed the firm in new directions.  From a mostly hospital-oriented practice, Mike and his team of policy, data, and lobbying professionals have moved boldly into biopharmaceuticals, long-term care, substance use services, and more.  In recent years the firm has scored a number of successes, including the successful pursuit of legislation to increase state funding for skilled nursing facilities that care for ventilator-dependent patients; improving access to pharmaceutical treatments for rare diseases; and developing innovative methodologies to improve Medicaid payments to safety-net hospitals.

Congratulations, Mike!…

Feds Plan for End of Aid for Certain COVID Services

As of March 22, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. (eastern) the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program will stop accepting claims for testing and treatment due to lack of funds and on April 5, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. (eastern) the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program and COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund will stop accepting vaccination claims due to a lack of funds.

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which runs the Provider Relief Fund program, has provided additional information about this significant change in federal COVID policy with the publication of two new documents:

Separately, HRSA advises that “Submitted claims will be paid subject to the availability of funds.”  This means that when the money is gone HRSA will no longer be able to pay claims.

The administration continues to encourage Congress to provide additional funding to support COVID-related activities and replenish this fund but it is not clear at this point if it will succeed in doing so.…

Surprise Billing Ban: Now the Hard Part Begins

Congress’s passage of a ban on surprise medical bills came after years of debate on the issue and was still somewhat of a surprise.

But in hindsight, passing the ban may end up being the easy part.

Now, federal officials need to develop regulations that will flesh out the ban, define terms, establish new processes, and more, and every indication is that this will be no less difficult than developing and passing legislation.

According to Politico, lobbying on future regulations has already begun, with providers, consumer advocates, insurers, and even private equity interests vying to ensure that their needs are reflected in the final guidelines, the first of which are due by July.

Learn more about the unfinished work associated with the surprise billing ban and what to expect in the coming months in the Politico article “Biden faces health industry fight over new ‘surprise’ billing ban.”…

Health Care Reportedly Out of Biden American Families Plan

President Biden’s soon-to-be-introduced “American Families Plan” proposal apparently will not include a major health care component.

The New York Times reports that

The plan will not include an up to $700 billion effort to expand health coverage or reduce government spending on prescription drugs. Officials have decided to instead pursue health care as a separate initiative…

Learn more about what is expected from the American Families Plan – and what is not expected – in the New York Times article “Biden Will Seek Tax Increase on Rich to Fund Child Care and Education.”

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Earmarks Expected to Return

After a ten-year absence, congressional earmarks appear to be on their way back.

Earmarks – special budget items chosen by members of Congress specifically for their districts – were banned in 2011 but now, members of the House have voted to revive them, citing the oft-used rationale that members of Congress are more qualified to choose projects for their districts than federal bureaucrats.  In addition, it is widely thought that earmarks can help build bipartisan support for challenging legislation.

Amid concern about the possibility of increasing federal spending at a time of rising deficits, the Senate still has not agreed to revive earmarks.

In anticipation of their return, the House Appropriations Committee will start accepting earmark requests later this month.

DeBrunner & Associates has extensive experience successfully helping health care providers secure congressional earmarks for programs and capital projects.

Learn more about the return of congressional earmarks, what it means, and how it might work in the Washington Post article “Congress revives earmarks in hopes of bipartisan deals on infrastructure, budgets.”…