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 - SEPTEMBER 18, 2017


House Dems Request Market Stabilization Hearing


Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee are requesting that the panel hold a hearing on the stabilization of the health insurance exchanges. In a letter to Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the Democratic members of the Committee cite the bipartisan hearings underway in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as an example. “We request that the Committee on Ways and Means, especially our Subcommittee on Health, likewise hold bipartisan hearings to set the course for expeditious action to stabilize individual insurance markets and lower costs,” they write. House Republicans, however, are generally seen as less open than their Senate colleagues to a bipartisan effort to stabilize the individual health insurance market.


HELP Leadership Continues Work on Bipartisan ACA Fix


Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has said that he hopes to present draft legislation to stabilize the individual exchange markets by the end of this week to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) so that they can work to schedule a vote on the measure during the last week of the month. The plan would likely fund cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments for two years, allow people to buy catastrophic health care plans, and loosen restrictions for states seeking 1332 waivers. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has already expressed opposition to any legislation that would provide funding to support the Affordable Care Act (ACA), though he believes that it will be possible to reach a bipartisan deal. Insurance companies have until September 27 to decide whether to participate in the exchanges next year.


Graham/Cassidy Unveil Final Repeal/Replace Effort


Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) unveiled their legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Wednesday. The proposal would convert $1.18 trillion in federal funding for Obamacare over the next seven years into block grants to states, while repealing the individual and employer mandates and the medical device tax. States would have the flexibility to waive some insurance regulations as a part of the block grant program, such as rules mandating coverage of essential health benefits (EHBs). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has already come out in opposition to the Graham/Cassidy/Heller plan, arguing that it does not go far enough to repeal the 2010 health care law. While the legislation has received a strong endorsement from the White House, the chances of the measure passing before September 30 remain slim, with Republican leadership hesitant to endorse the plan and eager to move on to tax reform. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) believes the bill lacks strong enough support to warrant a vote on the floor. Fast-track budget reconciliation authority expires in 12 days, after which point Republicans would need a super majority of 60 votes, to pass Obamacare repeal. According to Sen. Graham, however, they are only three or four votes shy of the 51 votes required for passage, and are currently working to persuade Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who were critical no votes in the earlier attempt to repeal Obamacare. Additionally, GOP leadership has already asked the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to prioritize a score of the legislation which is necessary before consideration by the full Senate.



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