The New Congress
For information about the new Congress, see last week’s Update.
WORTH REPEATING: Connecting With New and Returning Members of Congress
The beginning of a new Congress presents a great opportunity to establish contact with new Representatives and Senators and their staffers, and to reconnect with returning Members, who often have new staffers after an election. You can find your two Senators at www.senate.gov, and your (one) Representative by entering your zip code at www.house.gov.
House Approves Bill to Extend “Money Follows the Person”
On January 4, 2019, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced the Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019 (H.R. 259), which would extend for three months the Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration program along with spousal impoverishment protections for recipients of Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS). On January 8, the House of Representatives passed the bill. It is unclear whether the Senate will act on it.
Congress Looking at Ways to Lower Drug Prices
Notwithstanding the partisan divide behind the partial government shut-down, Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and both chambers of Congress are looking at various ways they might be able to reduce drug prices. See 7 Ideas to Lower Drug Prices (Fiscal Times, 1/14/19); As Congress Returns, Lawmakers Rush to Detail Drug-Pricing Agendas (STAT, 1/9/19). Some of these efforts are even bipartisan. For example, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act, which Senator Klobuchar had previously introduced with the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ). See Klobuchar press release. That bill would allow individuals to procure drugs from Canada for their personal use. A similar bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME). At the same time, the new chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is launching a broad investigation into manufacturers’ drug-pricing policies. See Oversight Launches Major Drug Pricing Investigation (The Hill, 1/14/19).