The next six weeks are shaping up to be the final work period before the summer recess, with both chambers scheduled to leave DC by July 15th for party conventions followed by the August recess.This makes prioritizing the issues with the best chance of making it to the President’s desk that much more important. While there are several non-health related issues that are already on the schedule, lawmakers are working behind the scenes to make progress on several health issues, with the hope of bringing them up for a floor vote or setting the stage for meaningful action when lawmakers return in the fall.
ML Strategies has published a congressional preview for this work period which focuses on the health care issues most pressing to lawmakers in Washington. Both sides appear eager to address the opioid crisis which is impacting communities all across the country, but still remain approximately $500 million apart on a funding figure. Last work period, both the House and Senate passed over 20 pieces of legislation to address the opioid crisis, but funding the response appears to be this issue's greatest hurdle. Both chambers also hope to address access to mental health services before the summer recess, but remain divided on how to do so. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote on the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act on June 15th, a bill that has stalled in recent months over a number of issues. The Senate is also working to bring up its legislation, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, for a floor vote with the hope of combining these two bills before the end of the year. Also on the docket will be determining a figure for the U.S. government’s response to the Zika virus, which CDC officials warn could hit southern states this summer.
The Senate continues its work on the 21st Century Cures Act, but funding issues continue to hamper progress. Lastly, GOP leadership appear poised to unveil an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, and early indications are that they will look to sell the proposal at their party’s convention in Cleveland starting July 18th.