Holidays Are Over; Timelines for (Some) Action Are Set

Hospitals don’t close for vacation, but other parts of the system slow down a bit over the holidays. Now that 2020 is here, the healthcare regulatory and legislative mechanisms are operating quickly. Governor Baker’s FY2021 state budget is due on January 22 and he is expected to lay out its priorities during his annual State of the State speech on January 21. The House Ways & Means budget is usually due mid-April, with debate probably occurring in late April. Then the Senate enters the fray during mid-May, with debate most likely occurring prior to Memorial Day.
In Washington, Congress begins the second session of the 116th Congress with a truncated 2020 calendar as impeachment proceedings and the 2020 elections will shorten the time available for Congress to legislate. The House is in session through the end of January, but the Senate legislative calendar begins in February. 
The president’s State of the Union speech is February 4, one day after the Iowa caucuses, which kicks off the 2020 presidential race. The presidential conventions are scheduled earlier than normal beginning on July 13 in Milwaukee for the Democrats, and on August 24 in Charlotte, N.C. for the Republicans. Those political dates allow little time over the next several months for reaching consensus on 2020 legislative spending and policy priorities, which means that most legislative activities will need to be completed by June. Healthcare priorities likely will include legislation to extend or delay a number of healthcare programs, as well as addressing surprise billing and prescription drug prices.