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.


Snow Week for the House of Representatives

The House of Representatives will be out of session this week due to the winter storm that took place this weekend in the D.C. area. The House was already scheduled for a short week due to Democratic lawmakers attending their legislative retreat in Baltimore from Wednesday to Friday. Previously, the House had scheduled a vote for Tuesday to override the president’s veto on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and defunding Planned Parenthood. The vote will almost certainly fail, as two-thirds of the House and Senate are required to override a presidential veto. Votes will recommence on February 1. The Senate has not revised its schedule at this point, and is currently scheduled to meet on Tuesday. Federal government offices in D.C. will be closed on Monday, January 25 due to inclement weather.

CBO Budget and Economic Outlook

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a summary of its annual Budget and Economic Outlook. The report is a 10-year forecast analyzing the impact of new laws and economic developments on economic growth. According to the analysis, the federal budget deficit will increase to $544 billion this year, $105 billion more than last year. This amounts to 2.9 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), and the first time since 2009 that the deficit has risen as a share of the economy. The new baseline projects that the deficit will continue to go up after this year – reaching $561 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2017 and $1 trillion by 2022. CBO notes that these deficit predictions would increase debt held by the public to 86 percent of GDP by the end of the budget window, which is more than twice the average over the past five decades. The agency predicts that the 2015 budget deal and omnibus-tax extenders package passed by Congress in December will boost real GDP slightly both this year and next. CBO estimates that real GDP will grow by 2.7 percent in calendar year (CY) 2016, by 2.5 percent in 2017, and then slow by an average rate of growth of 2 percent between 2018 and 2026. CBO projects $51.4 trillion in spending and $42 trillion in revenue over the next decade. Additionally, spending for mandatory programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance subsidies are expected to rise from 13.1 percent of GDP to 15 percent of GDP by 2026. Discretionary spending will fall from 6.5 percent of GDP to 5.2 percent in 2026. The full Budget and Economic Outlook will be released today. Updated projections will be issued in March, and will include feedback effects – the impact of economic growth on revenue and spending. The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the report, which will inform congressional work on a budget resolution.

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