Politico: Bi-partisan health policy in Congress?

Today’s “Politico Influence” newsletter had some highlights from the House passed continuing resolution this week that I thought were notable.

Influence is a daily newsletter tracking the lobbying community in Washington DC.  It is not generally related to policy as it is more about the professional government relations folks in DC, their “comings and goings,” and their related clients.

However, from time to time there is a nugget, such as this summary.

HOUSE CR IS A WIN FOR SOME HEALTH CARE GROUPS: The House continuing resolution, which passed Tuesday, would extend funding for numerous Medicare programs that expired last year – a win for many health care trade groups. The bill also includes funding for community health centers and the National Health Service Corps, which gives scholarships and loan forgiveness to primary care providers and students working in communities that have limited access to health care. In addition, the continuing resolution includes the so-called CHRONIC Care Act, legislation that is intended to make it easier for Medicare Advantage enrollees to receive telehealth services. And it would increase Medicare coverage for telemedicine for certain conditions, like stroke care and home kidney dialysis therapy.

In an interview with PI, the National Coalition on Health Care‘s policy director Larry McNeely said the coalition was engaged “for a matter of months” to get the provisions into the bill, including sending a series of letters to Congress. He said the provisions included in the continuing resolution bill are “the most bipartisan thing in health care” and have been in limbo “on and off since September.”

The newsletter also had a related tidbit on why one lobbyist thought Congress was able to pass tax reform but wasn’t able to get health reform through.

LESSONS FROM THE TAX FIGHT: Brian Wild, a former aide to former House Speaker John Boehner who’s now a lobbyist at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, sent a note to clients on Tuesday outlining seven takeaways from Republicans’ successful tax reform push, H.R. 1 (115) . “Republicans did several things on tax reform differently than they did on past issues like health care, appropriations, the debt ceiling and immigration,” Wild wrote. “Those differences are why tax reform passed. Republicans could accomplish more if they tackled all issues the way they tackled taxes.”

– Among the takeaways: Republicans let just a few members and staffers take the lead on the bill. (“This small group had the pen and wrote the bill,” Wild writes. “Other members submitted requests, weighed in and had a say, but did not have the power to edit.”) They didn’t let every committee chairman and potential presidential candidate draw lines in the sand that made it harder to negotiate. And Republicans leadership in the House and Senate “created the message, united the conference and whipped the votes” but didn’t dictate the particulars of the bill.