The Washington Report
September 30, 2020
Note to subscribers: Due to the current environment, information is changing at a rapid rate. While we do our best to provide timely updates, it is possible that the information shared in the newsletter may change or be revised after our publication deadline. Stay healthy and safe! ~The Washington Report team
President Announces America First Healthcare Plan; Issues Executive Orders
On September 24, 2020, President Trump announced through an Executive Order (EO) his America First Healthcare Plan. The plan discusses health care access, costs, and pre-existing conditions. Additionally, the EO includes provisions to “end surprise billing and announced the Trump Administration will send prescription drug discount cards to over 33 million seniors.”
Following this announcement, the President signed an additional EO (“Protecting Vulnerable Newborn and Infant Children”) on September 25. Among other items, this EO addresses legal rights regarding medical screening and stabilizing treatments.
At time of publication, specific details regarding implementation of these EOs were unavailable.
A Fact Sheet is available here.
The EO on the America First Healthcare Plan is available here.
The EO on Protecting Vulnerable Newborn and Infant Children is available here.
House Approves Spending Bill; Moves to Senate
The House approved a Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 spending bill (H.R. 8337) with a 359–57 vote on September 22, 2020. The bill would provide continuing FY 2021 appropriations to federal agencies through December 11, 2020, and extend several government programs. It is known as a continuing resolution (CR) and would prevent a government shutdown that would otherwise occur if the FY 2021 appropriations bills have not been enacted when FY 2021 begins on October 1, 2020. The CR funds most programs and activities at the FY 2020 levels with several exceptions that provide funding flexibility and additional appropriations to various programs. Additionally, the bill would extend several authorities and programs. The bill moves to the Senate for consideration this week to avoid a government shutdown. Senate passage is likely, and the President is expected to sign the bill into law Please refer to the bill for specific details.
H.R. 8337 is available here.
House Approves Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
On September 17, 2020, the House approved with a 329–73 vote the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694). The bill would prohibit employment practices that discriminate against making reasonable accommodations for qualified employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Among other provisions, the bill would declare it to be an unlawful employment practice to:
- Fail to make reasonable accommodations to known limitations of such employees unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on an entity's business operation;
- Require a qualified employee affected by such condition to accept an accommodation other than any reasonable accommodation arrived at through an interactive process;
- Deny employment opportunities based on the need of the entity to make such reasonable accommodations to a qualified employee;
- Require such employees to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided; or
- Take adverse action in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against a qualified employee requesting or using such reasonable accommodations.
The bill moves to the Senate where passage is uncertain.
The full text of H.R. 2694 is available here.
HHS Issues Rules and Guidance in Response to America First Healthcare EO
On September 24, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released several rules and additional guidance in response to President Trump’s America First Healthcare Plan Executive Order (EO) released the same day. As part of the EO, HHS:
- Issued a final rule and guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to open a pathway for states to use to import prescription drugs to lower patients’ drug costs.
- Solicited private-sector proposals, as called for in the President’s July 24 EO, on allowing Americans to get lower-cost FDA-approved drugs and insulins from American pharmacies via importation and reimportation.
- Released the 2021 Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Premium landscape, showing that average 2021 premiums for Medicare Advantage plans are expected to decline 34.2 % from 2017, and that Part D premiums will be down 12% from 2017, with over 1,600 drug plans offering insulin at no more than $35 per month.
- Issued a notice of proposed rulemaking from the Health Resources and Services Administration to pass on discounts at community health centers on insulin and epinephrine to Americans who are uninsured or have high cost-sharing.
The final rule is available here.
The FDA guidance is available here.
The news release on Medicare Advantage premiums and the new insulin payment model is available here.
Information on the proposed rule is available here.
PBGC Announces It Will Allow Greater Flexibility Related to Premium Filings Due to COVID; Releases Technical Update 20-2
On September 21, 2020, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) issued a news release announcing guidance that permits plan sponsors to amend premium filings to include additional contributions made after the initial premium filing date but on or before January 1, 2021. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act provides that contributions otherwise due during calendar year 2020 may be paid as late as January 1, 2021. The new PBGC guidance provides that, for premium filings due on or after March 1, 2020, and before January 1, 2021, the discounted value of contributions made after the initial premium is filed but on or before January 1, 2021, can be included in the asset value used to determine the variable-rate premium. If additional contributions are made after the initial filing date and on or before January 1, 2021, the premium filing can be amended and a refund of the premium overpayment can be requested. The PBGC issued Technical Update 20-2 on September 23, 2020, providing additional detail about the relief, including how to amend a premium filing. The deadline to file an amended filing and receive a refund of a premium due to this relief is February 1, 2021. Please refer to the guidance for specific details.
The news release is available here.
Technical Update 20-2 is available here.
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