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Capitol Correspondence - 05.03.22

All Eyes Are Back on the Senate as Senators Work Through Legislative Priorities

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This week the U.S. Senate is in session while the U.S. House of Representatives is on recess. Both chambers of Congress were in session last week after returning from a two-week recess. Last week, the House focused on holding budget hearings, with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra appearing before both the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee and the House Ways and Means Committee to testify on the Fiscal Year 2023 HHS budget proposal. While the hearings did not specifically focus on the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program, there was a discussion during the Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that centered on need to support providers serving underserved populations and to strengthen the healthcare workforce.

The Senate will continue budget hearings this week. The Senate is also attempting to continue negotiations over the COVID-19 relief legislative package, which has become mired in debate over funding for Ukraine and immigration policy issues.

Some Senators are also resuming talks to advance a bipartisan bill to address climate change. That effort is being led by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). While Senator Manchin’s push for a bipartisan agreement on climate change may yield a deal, it does not signify the end of the road for Senate Democrats to also advance the budget reconciliation bill. Discussions between Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Manchin, as well with the White House have once again begun on how to advance a revised version of the Build Back Better Act that passed the House of Representatives.

Reporting on the informal talks about the budget reconciliation bill indicates that negotiations have focused on climate change, prescription drug reform, and deficit reduction, with no mention of HCBS as part of the legislative package. But there are no formal proposals at the moment. ANCOR will continue to monitor developments with the budget reconciliation bill, especially as it impacts funding for the Medicaid HCBS program.