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Federal Health Policy Updates for the Week of March 11, 2024

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FY 25?! 
We’re still wrapping 24! 
It’s all spring training 


The Rundown

  • President Biden releases FY 2025 budget request to Congress; negotiations continue for FY 2024 funding 
  • Heard on the Hill: Committee updates
  • What’s up NC delegation  
  • The latest from our desks  
  • Virtual office hours – Come see us on March 26th!   
  • Join the Duke Health Advocacy Network! 

Federal Updates

President’s budget released; Congress grapples with remaining appropriations bills 

President’s FY 2025 budget request 
Technically, this was due on the first Monday in February, but given that Congress continues to work past the deadline on FY 2024 spending, the administration should be allowed a brief extension on its FY 2025 budget proposal. Right? 

This week, President Biden released his budget request for the upcoming fiscal year, outlining the administration’s funding preferences. While nonbinding, the budget request is a clear statement of policy and spending priorities and has traditionally been the kickoff point for the new congressional budget and appropriations season. The proposal largely reflects the top line discretionary spending caps established by last year’s bipartisan budget agreement. 

The budget request would support $48.33 billion in discretionary funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is an estimated $871.5 million increase over current funding levels to the base budget. The budget request would continue to support the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) and other administration priorities including cancer research and women’s health. 

Other research priorities were held steady or would face cuts, including a $75 million reduction to the Veterans’ Affairs Medical and Prosthetic Research Program.  

The budget would also support the elimination of facilities fees for telehealth and certain outpatient services; provide $1.3 billion in incentives for hospitals to defend against cyberattacks; require all health plans to cover mental health and substance use disorder benefits and have an adequate network of behavioral health providers; prioritize enforcement of essential practices requirements by FY 2029; and extend No Surprises Act balance billing requirements to ground ambulances.  

The president’s budget has very little chance of becoming law, but it provides insights into the administration’s agenda and is critically important as an opening bargaining chip on what will become a bigger debate on FY 2025 federal spending, which is even more complicated by this presidential election year. Yet, we get a clear sense of what the administration wants and also what it may be willing to trade off in support of those goals. 

FY 2024 spending 
All of this talk of FY 2025, and we still have six outstanding appropriations bills pending for the current fiscal year, including the one that funds the Department of Health and Human Services. Congressional leaders will continue negotiating over the weekend, but this round will be more contentious than the last – and once again, the potential for a partial government shutdown is looming next Friday, March 22nd, without congressional intervention. 

Our team continues to advocate in support of Duke Health funding priorities for FY 2024 while also ramping up our FY 2025 appropriations outreach work with NC congressional offices.  

Heard on the Hill: Committee updates 

Energy and Commerce Heath Subcommittee 
This week, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee advanced 19 healthcare proposals, including several important to Duke Health, such as the Emergency Medical Services for Children Reauthorization Act and the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Reauthorization Act.  

Our office has been particularly active advocating in support of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Reauthorization Act, which would reauthorize grant programs, created under the original legislation enacted during the pandemic (P.L. 117-105), for an additional five years. This program has supported Duke’s Health and Public Safety Workforce Resiliency Training Program grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. 

Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) noted that many of the bills being considered address programs that are set to expire on September 30th. She is hopeful legislation will move forward before the authorization for these programs expires.  

House Ways and Means Committee 
On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing entitled, “Enhancing Access to Care at Home in Rural and Underserved Communities.” Topics at the hearing included telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and expanding access to home care, including Medicare’s pandemic-era Acute Hospital at Home Program. Rep. Greg Murphy, MD (R-NC-03), who serves as a member on the Committee, spoke in support of telehealth and addressed comments made by a witness that payments for telehealth should be less than in-person visits. Rep. Murphy, who is a physician, discussed how this type of policy would “decimate” private practice and provided details on how this policy would impact providers and patients. 

What’s up, NC Delegation 
This week, Rep. Davis Rouzer (R-NC-07) relaunched the bipartisan Congressional Primary Care Caucus with Reps Jen Kiggans (R-VA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE). Rep. Rouzer first created the caucus in 2015 to educate Congress on the importance of a comprehensive, continuous, coordinated, and connected primary care system for patients and communities nationwide. In his statement, Rep. Rouzer said that “tens of thousands of families across the country, including many of my constituents in rural Southeastern North Carolina, face a shortage in primary care physicians to address health issues early before they become advanced... I'm proud to join my colleagues in relaunching the bipartisan Primary Care Caucus to ensure our healthcare system focuses on patients and brings primary care closer to home.” 

From our desk(s): Duke Health GR this week 
This week, our team traveled to Washington, DC for the American Association of Medical College’s (AAMC) March government relations representatives meeting, which featured conversations and presentations from congressional staff and administration leadership on many Duke Health priorities, such as Medicare and Medicaid policy, artificial intelligence, and funding for medical research. 

While in DC, our team met with staff for the two co-chairs of the Congressional Academic Medicine Caucus, Rep. Greg Murphy, MD and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), to discuss caucus and Duke Health priorities. We also met with Republican healthcare staff of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. 

We joined stakeholder policy strategy and development calls on major healthcare issues and initiatives, including 340B, artificial intelligence in healthcare, and telehealth expansion. 

See You Soon – Virtual “Office Hours” on March 26th
Duke Health (federal) Government Relations is once again partnering with our Duke State Relations colleagues to hold virtual "office hours.” Open to members of the Duke Health Advocacy Network, these “office hours” are not formal presentations but instead an opportunity to talk about health-related issues before Congress and for us to learn more about the issues that are at the forefront for you and your work.     

Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2024      
Time: 12:00pm

A meeting invite will be distributed soon. If you would like to be added to the meeting invite, click here.    

Not yet a member of the Duke Health Advocacy Network? No problem! Learn more about how to join below. 

Join the Duke Health Advocacy Network!
Looking for more opportunities to connect with fellow advocates and professionals interested in public policy across the health system? Join the Duke Health Advocacy Teams Channel! We’re growing leaps and bounds and hope you’ll consider joining us!

Managed and moderated by Duke Health Government Relations and Duke State Relations, the purpose of the platform is for you to connect with your colleagues throughout the health system who are engaged and/or interested in public policy advocacy. We hope the channel will be used as a space for sharing ideas, collaboration, and engaging with the government relations teams on the issues most important to your work.

We encourage you to explore the channel, as we will post relevant news items, policy updates, questions, advocacy resources, and opportunities for engagement. As importantly, this is your space to do the same and to help grow the community.

Click to Join

(Note: This is only open to Duke Health employees. By joining this teams channel, you acknowledge that the platform and your participation are intended for information sharing and connections/relationship building and is not an inducement by Duke Health Government Relations and Duke State Relations, or the channel’s participants, to act as an unauthorized advocacy and/or lobbying representative of Duke Health or Duke University).