Congress Countdown: Public Health Priorities

We’re also watching how Congress tackles other health issues in the headlines: 

  • Reproductive Health: It is unlikely federal legislation will advance but policymakers on both sides will continue this debate.

    Republicans will likely:
    • Reintroduce legislation at the federal level to ban all abortion care and services with very narrow exceptions.
    • Reduce funding and increase restrictions on federal family planning programs, such as Title X and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
    • Create stricter guidelines for coverage of abortion services under Medicaid.
    • Reverse requirements for coverage of family planning services, including birth control, in private insurance health plans.
  • Mental and Behavioral Health: Covid has only further exacerbated this public health crisis.

    Republicans will likely:
    • Base next steps on negotiated bipartisan Committee-level proposals, focusing primarily on children and opioids, with policy facing constraints on any new funding.
    • Focus on health care workforce shortages in this area and more broadly in health care. Workforce shortages were unable to meet demand for care pre-pandemic, and this has only worsened as need increases.
  • COVID-19: Illness, health complications and deaths due to COVID-19 continue, and associated hospitalizations strain the public health and health care infrastructure.

    Republicans will likely:
    • Seek increased oversight and transparency of the federal pandemic response in general and the CDC specifically.
    • Apply pressure to limit the extension of the Public Health Emergency declaration (ending January 11, 2023), possibly urging an exception for Medicare telehealth coverage policies.
    • Address the growing pressures on the health care workforce, including increased workplace violence.