With the lame-duck Congress taking a break over Thanksgiving and set to adjourn three weeks later, it's unclear how much lawmakers will actually accomplish before the 115th Congress takes over in January. Still, they have plenty on their plate.
Front and center is funding the government before the Dec. 9 expiration of a temporary continuing resolution. Congress also can take up numerous bills related to health; proposed bills to support medical innovation and mental health reform are being closely watched.
Lawmakers have pledged to prioritize the 21st Century Cures Act, which aims to speed up the development and delivery of new therapies. The futures of President Barack Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative and Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot are largely viewed as tied to this act, which the House passed in 2015 and which would set aside billions of dollars in additional research funding.
But the bill could snag on any number of issues, such as funding or the potential attachment of the controversial Regrow Act to ease federal drug regulations and expedite approval of regenerative medicines.
Also sitting in the Senate is the Mental Health Reform Act to expand access to and coverage of mental health services. That too has already passed the House.
The hospital industry is pressuring the Senate to pass its version of a bill that would require the CMS' Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program to take into account the socio-economic status of hospitals' patients.