Congress Countdown: The Business of Health

As the divided 118th Congress opens today, here are the hot-button health issues we’re watching:

  • Prescription Drug Costs: Next to health insurance premiums, prescription drug costs are the metric by which Americans measure affordability of care. These costs have continued to increase at an unsustainable rate.

    Republicans will likely:
    • Seek repeal of the Inflation Reduction Act provisions related to drug pricing controls and inflation rebates, which largely impact Medicare beneficiaries.
    • Find a pathway to cap out-of-pocket costs of insulin for those covered under private insurance.
  • Health Care Coverage Affordability: Supply chain delays coupled with general inflation compounded systemic health care cost increases, shouldered by both the federal government and households.

    Republicans will likely:
    • Pursue rollbacks of the ACA, including: consumer protections, premium tax credit eligibility, open enrollment opportunities and the “family glitch” solution.
    • Reinstate the ability for narrow, short-term (and lower cost) “junk plans” to be offered in the marketplace and expand the use and terms for high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs).
    • Raise the eligibility age for Medicare and increase opportunities for privatization of the program.
  • Telehealth Access: Flexibilities in payment policy and investments in broadband in COVID relief packages advanced decades of efforts by telehealth advocates.

    Republicans will likely:
    • Advance pieces of larger legislative packages, such as the CONNECT for Health Act, focused on telehealth expansions initially made possible through Covid relief packages.