Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby hinted yesterday that the Senate may not advance any FY ‘21 bills for markup this year. Instead, the Senate could pass a continuing resolution to extend current funding past the October 31st fiscal year end. This would also make appropriations negotiations with the House unlikely this year.
The House and Senate met on Thursday for a bi-partisan meeting regarding the fourth COVID-19 stimulus package. With a lack of consensus and disappointment from both sides, the Senate went on Recess yesterday afternoon. White House officials say they plan to evaluate the state of negotiations to decide if Congress should continue talks or if the Administration should take executive action for limited relief efforts.
The CDC is almost finished with a new reporting system that will help state health departments separate COVID-19 data from diagnostic tests and antibody test results. Diagnostic tests help state and federal officials identify active infections for contact tracing and mobilizing resources to affected areas. Antibody tests offer a wide perspective on the virus’ spread. Based on results from antibody testing, the CDC estimates that the number positive cases could be 10 times higher than what has been reported.
On Tuesday, the President signed an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue rules within 60 days ensuring that certain telehealth regulatory changes made during the COVID-19 pandemic will remain in place once the pandemic ends. The order directs the HHS to develop a payment model that allows rural health care providers to waive some existing Medicare policies and ensure more predictable financial payments. The order also directs HHS, the USDA, and the FCC to create a task force focused on developing broadband infrastructure for rural telehealth services.