Capitol Hill Update - December 2021

In recent years we’ve seen a flurry of Congressional and regulatory activity around this time of year and 2021 is continuing that trend. With so much going on it can be hard to concentrate on what is happening, so we thought we’d highlight a few issues that are particularly important for heart and stroke advocates.

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Active Transportation:

Last month, President Biden signed into law the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which included several policies that are important to heart and stroke advocates. In addition to helping rebuild bridges and roads in your communities this bill will also help us be more active by funding heart-healthy and safe, active transportation programs and policies. Thanks in large part to thousands of You’re the Cure advocates, this legislation included funding for things like Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets and more dedicated paths in neighborhoods for walking, biking and rolling!

Surprise Medical Bills:

Surprise medical bills can happen when someone receives a bill for care they thought should be covered by their insurance. Very frequently this happens when patients seek emergency care for things like a heart attack or stroke. You go to an in-network hospital but then months (can be more than a year) later you receive a very high bill because the doctor you saw at an in-network hospital is contracted and does not take your insurance. You have no way to know this ahead of time and the last thing you should be worried about in an emergency situation is the cost.

Last year, Congress passed the No Surprises Act to address this predatory billing practice, to protect patients and to help lower our health care costs. Throughout the fall, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released rules to enforce the No Surprises Act when it takes affect on January 1st, 2022. YTC advocates once again stepped up and made their voices heard ahead of the December 6th comment deadline to ensure that HHS put patients first as they went through the rulemaking process. Thousands of advocates across the country took-action by urging Washington D.C. decision makers to fulfill the promise of the No Surprises Act. We will need to monitor this situation going forward to ensure that the law is properly implemented on January 1st and we will be sure to keep you updated on this important issue as we learn more. Make sure to watch your inboxes in the coming weeks as we may need your help once again to put the patient voices and experiences back on the front page.

Government Funding:

On December 3rd, President Biden signed a “continuing resolution” that will extend government funding through mid-February preventing a partial government shutdown and avoiding disruptions for Medicare payments, research initiatives at the NIH and programs at the CDC. While Congress will need to deal with this again between now and February, for now we can breathe a sigh of relief as these vital programs which impact millions of Americans on a daily basis will not see any cuts or disruptions.

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