March 21, 2022

Health Policy Outlook for 2022

Between the federal appropriations process, regulatory policy proposals, the upcoming midterm elections, and congressional legislation, there is much to follow in federal health policy. To help break down what is on the horizon for health policy in 2022 and which pieces could shape the policy landscape, three members of the Washington, D.C. government affairs firm Thorn Run Partners – Yul Edwards, Jessie Brairton, and Brittany Argote – joined the Society for Women’s Health Research’s (SWHR) Policy Advisory Council March 2022 meeting. Within the firm, Edwards, Brairton, and Argote serve as partner, senior vice president, and health policy associate, respectively.

Overarching Policy Landscape

Edwards, Brairton, and Argote began by reviewing broader items that could have a bearing on federal health policy – namely, federal appropriations, reconciliation (a tool to get tax- and spending-related legislation passed with a simple majority), and the 2022 midterm elections. (Since the time of the Council meeting, Congress passed and the president signed into law the fiscal year 2022 omnibus package, containing all 12 federal spending bills; emergency funding for Ukraine and COVID-19; and other provisions.) With respect to the reconciliation bill, the “Build Back Better Act,” negotiations are currently being labeled as “paused” after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced his opposition to the bill as it currently stands. The original Build Back Better legislation touched several key areas of health policy, including paid family and medical leave and drug pricing, an area which Sen. Manchin continues to elevate, so attempts to revive the stalled negotiation talks could have bearing on those issues. Finally, the speakers touched on the midterm elections, which have the potential to shape federal health policy through shifting the makeup of the House and Senate. Historically, Edwards noted, a sitting president’s party has been more likely to lose seats in a midterm election regardless of the president’s favorability. The Senate is currently considered a “toss up,” and in the House, retirements in the Democratic and Republican Caucuses and redistricting could all play a role in shifting which party controls the chamber.

What to Watch for in 2022

The following represent snapshots of some “areas to watch in 2022” that were identified by the panelists:

Whether in the legislative or regulatory health care realm, there is much to watch for in 2022. While it will likely be a significant year for health policy given high-level administration and congressional priorities, policymakers will also be working against the midterm congressional elections, which are likely to divert their attention. SWHR will continue to advocate for policies that promote women’s health and women’s health research—advancing SWHR’s vision of making women’s health mainstream.

For questions, please email SWHR Chief Advocacy Officer Lindsey Horan.