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ML Strategies Health Care Preview: September 23, 2019

Congress returns to session this week with days to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open. The House of Representatives passed a short- term bill to keep the government open through November 21st, but a vote on that package has yet to be scheduled in the Senate. While the Senate is expected to vote in time to avoid a shutdown, it’s possible they vote on a “clean CR” that removes provisions looking at the impact of the Administration’s trade policies , among other policies.

That would also have implications for a number of health care programs that are set to expire at the end of the month. The House did extend several programs through the November 21st deadline, but stakeholders are pushing for a full reauthorization to avoid the paralyzing month-to-month planning that preceded last year’s government shutdown that spilled into early 2019. With a number of larger political fights still unresolved, we are likely looking at an intensive fall work period where policymakers can address a number of outstanding programs and policies in an end-of-year megadeal.

We are seeing signs of what that might look like this week with two hearings in the House on drug pricing. The Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee will be reviewing four bills centered mostly on drug price negotiations, including the recently released Lower Prescription Drug Costs Now Act from Speaker Pelosi and introduced by the Chairman of leading health committees. This legislation would require HHS to publish a list of 250 negotiation-eligible brand drugs with the greatest total cost to Medicare. Of those, 25 would be subject to negotiation with HHS. While negotiating drug prices has been a long sought policy of many Democratic lawmakers, this proposal represents an incremental approach to the issue in an effort to win over the President, who has expressed support for the policy in the past.


The Health Tax Taskforce, comprised of members of the Senate Finance Committee, failed to achieve consensus on a path forward on a number of expiring tax provisions. This includes the controversial medical device tax and health insurance tax, both of which will take effect in 2020 absent action. There are bills in both chambers to repeal or suspend the taxes but have yet to be considered in their respective committees.

It is fair to expect continued advocacy on these issues into the fall as Congress looks to finalize a budget and resolve a number of outstanding, and costly, issues.

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About this Author

Eli Greenspan ML Strategies Mintz
Manager of Government Relations

Prior to joining ML Strategies, Eli was a legislative correspondent for US Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), where his experience included health care, education, child welfare, social security, food assistance, and poverty issues specifically as they relate to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Social Security. Previously, Eli served as a legislative intern with Senator Heinrich. He also served as a legislative intern with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), where he worked on issues related to education, health, and commerce. Eli has also served as an intern at a political...

Alexander Hecht, Vice President of Government Relations, Mintz Levin law Firm
ML Strategies - Executive Vice President & Director of Operations

Alex is Executive Vice President & Director of Operations, ML Strategies, Washington, DC. He is an attorney with more than 10 years of senior-level experience in Congress and trade associations.

Alex assists clients with their legislative and regulatory needs on a wide range of issues, including health care, telecommunications, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), technology, energy, and federal procurement. Prior to joining ML Strategies, Alex served for over six years as chief counsel for Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) on the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. He was the lead policy counsel for Senator Snowe on health insurance market reform, individual and employer-based insurance, ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA, and health care tax incentives. He worked on numerous bills, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, Small Business Health Fairness Act, and Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Act. He advocated for health care legislative and regulatory issues before Senate Finance, HELP, Commerce, and Homeland Security Committees, as well as the US Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Labor. Along with health care policy, he advised Senator Snowe on energy, financial services, innovation, and technology matters.

Alex is regarded as one of the leading congressional staff specialists on the regulatory process and how federal agencies promulgate rules and regulations. He has developed numerous bills and amendments reducing the regulatory compliance burden of business.

Prior to working on Capitol Hill, Alex was a legislative analyst, with a focus on health and environmental regulatory issues, at the National Multi Housing Council. He was also a research clerk at the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, studying Medicaid reimbursement and long-term health insurance planning. Alex was also the chief articles editor for the Houston Journal of Health Law & Policy at the University of Houston Law Center.

Frank Guinta ML Strategies VP
Senior Vice President of ML Strategies/US

Frank is based in our Washington, DC office and is Senior Vice President of ML Strategies.

Prior to joining the firm, Frank represented New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district in the US House of Representatives. He served for two nonconsecutive terms, from 2011 to 2013 and from 2015 to 2017. During his time in Congress, Frank served on several House committees. During his most recent term, he was a member of the Committee on Financial Services and served on its Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit as well as its Monetary Policy and Trade sub-committees. Previously he served...

Aaron Josephson Mintz Law Firm
Senior Director

Aaron is based in our Washington, DC office and is a Senior Director of ML Strategies. He advises clients on health care policy issues related to medical devices and pharmaceuticals. 

Prior to joining ML Strategies, Aaron spent 10 years with the US Food and Drug Administration, most recently as a senior policy advisor in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health where he led legislative policy development activities related to all aspects of medical device regulation and oversight. He also apprised members of Congress and their staffs about...