Permanent MFP Included in Drug Pricing Bill but Five Month Extension Likely
Senators Chuck Grassley (R—IA) and Ron Wyden (D—OR), Chair and Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, have introduced an updated version of their prescription drug bill, which includes a permanent reauthorization of Money Follows the Person (MFP). The revised Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 (PDPRA) now includes a “health extenders” package renewing several health-related programs that Congress must pass before the end of the year to prevent their expiration, and both MFP and spousal impoverishment protections receive a permanent extension in the legislation. However, over the weekend subsequent to the package’s introduction, Congress negotiated a “minibus” 2020 appropriations bill that includes a five-month extension of MFP and other extenders, which is expected to pass this week. The presence of the health extenders in the appropriations bill is an acknowledgment that the drug pricing bill faces too much resistance to pass in 2019, and requires further negotiation.
While the default to yet another short term extension will be frustrating to supporters of the program, Congressional staff envision a path forward that leads to permanent reauthorization in the spring. In this scenario, negotiations continue on the drug pricing bill, which, in its current form, faces resistance from some members of the Senate, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R—KY). Once the appropriations minibus is passed this week, the drug pricing bill becomes the vehicle for reauthorizing them, creating a May deadline for wrapping up negotiations and passing the legislation.
The language in PDPRA makes very few changes to MFP, other than to reduce the required institutional stay before eligibility from 90 days to 60, and to make the program permanent so that it will no longer require periodic renewal. The five month extension in the appropriations bill contains no changes to the program.
FMI: The legislative text for PRPDA can be found at https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Prescription%20Drug%20Pricing%20Reduction%20and%20Health%20and%20Human%20Services%20Improvements%20Act.pdf. MFP is section 20201 of the bill. The 2020 appropriations bill can be read at https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20191216/BILLS-116HR1865SA-RCP116-44.PDF.
MFP is Section 205.