Rural Health Policy Update – September 2022

On August 16, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 into law. The massive reconciliation bill extends the Affordable Care Act marketplace subsidies for three years, through the end of 2025, and creates a novel approach to the federal government negotiating a select amount of prescription drug prices under Medicare.  In the wake of signing the bill into law, the Biden Administration released two resources on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Here is a state-by-state fact sheet, and here is a by-the-numbers fact sheet.

With the IRA passed, Congress will return to Washington on September 6 with the year-end spending package as the major to-do item. With only 9-10 legislative days before September 30, Congress will pass a continuing resolution (CR) to maintain FY ‘22 spending levels past Thanksgiving. The CR will set up an end-of-year Omnibus spending package which Congress will most likely pass before adjourning the 117th Congress.

One of NOSORH’s major priorities for the FY 2023 spending package will be the inclusion of language reauthorizing the State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) grant program for an additional five years. During August, NOSORH met with the House and Senate Authorizing Committees as well as House and Senate member offices interested in introducing the legislation. The Senate Rural Health Caucus has indicated its interest in attempting to pass the SORH reauthorization bill.

Expect a handful of other rural health-related bills to be included in both the CR and Omnibus spending package. With the expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency expected to be announced following the November mid-term elections, look for Congress to extend a number of telehealth, behavioral health, and rural health-related waivers.