POLICY BRIEFINGS


Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


THIS WEEK'S BRIEFING - MAY 22, 2017


Senate Faction Optimistic on Bipartisan Health Care Reform


Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have begun work on health care reform apart from the GOP working group backed by Republican leadership. Sens. Cassidy and Collins are pushing for bipartisan negotiations, and are attempting to find Senate Democrats willing to come to the table. Their
plan would allow states to keep the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in place if they wish, and would also leave the ACA’s taxes and fees intact. They convened a meeting of six Republicans and three Democrats to discuss a possible bipartisan path forward. Attendance included Republican Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.V.) and Democrats Joe Manchin (W.V.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.). Sen. Cassidy noted that additional lawmakers had expressed interest in attending, and that more meetings are planned for the future.

Republicans in the upper chamber have yet to reach a compromise on what to do about the Medicaid program. GOP members from Medicaid expansion states are reluctant to repeal the expansion in its entirety, but acknowledge the need to limit program spending. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has proposed to phase out expansion funding over five years beginning in 2020. Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) would cap new spending at the rate of inflation. The most conservative senators wish to repeal the ACA in its totality, even if it means abandoning or changing the rules surrounding reconciliation.

Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has reached out to industry trade groups and other officials requesting feedback on the Senate’s ACA repeal process by May 23. Stakeholders were asked to weigh in on issues under Finance Committee jurisdiction, including Obamacare taxes, expansion
of health savings accounts (HSAs), the Medicaid program, health insurance tax credits, and stabilization
of the individual market.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced that it would release a cost estimate of the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) the afternoon of May 24. The score will also include an estimate of the effects of the legislation. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is working on a proposal that would increase the tax credits to assist in the purchase of health insurance included in AHCA, but better target the credits to those with low incomes and the elderly. He is waiting on the score of the House-bill to better understand how to adjust the tax credits.

The possibility of a second House vote on AHCA was reported last week, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) blamed the confusion on a technical issue, saying that he is confident that the bill will move to the Senate after the CBO score is released. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) explained that the bill has been held in the House for the sake of caution, and to ensure that the legislation conforms with the Senate’s rules for reconciliation.



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