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The Voice of Olga Walther
Congress moved beyond considering the Affordable Care Act (ACA). From potential changes to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program to necessary extensions of already existing Medicare programs, Congress had a busy working week moving the healthcare agenda.
The packed agenda for Congress promised us a whirlwind of a month, and it certainly came with its share of surprises. Despite the appearance of progress, however, we still don’t have answers to any of the pressing healthcare legislation questions as we conclude our third week of September. With one week remaining, action looks pretty grim for many of the government health programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), mainly due to the sudden resurgence of ACA repeal talks.
On Wednesday, September 6, the Senate HELP Committee kicked off a series of hearings on a possible bipartisan bill to address pressing issues with the individual market under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The first hearing, the senators heard from five state insurance commissioners from both parties. Notably, the hearing largely avoided partisan rhetoric on the ACA and focused on how substantive short-term solutions should be implemented. Senator Alexander expressed his wish for draft legislation to be introduced next week. More importantly, further insight into what senators may agree on was provided in the first hearing.
Next week’s return of Congress marks the start of a jam-packed agenda for Congress. Not only must Congress fund the government, tackle the increase of the debt ceiling, and reauthorize Federal Aviation, Flood Insurance, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding by September 30, lawmakers will also need to tackle a host of other proposals up for consideration. Below are some agenda items that will affect government healthcare programs:
With the failed Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal effort, senators packed their bags and headed off for August recess. Their return will be met with a significantly packed healthcare agenda: Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization, ACA Stabilization Bill, Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act, as well as last ditch efforts to repeal the ACA through bills that have yet to be voted on such as Graham-Cassidy.
Congress is in recess, and, for now, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fight is on hold, at least legislatively. This is not so, however, for states and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). While the rejection of ACA repeal proposals under which Medicaid would face significant cuts was seen as a major win for the program and the underserved communities, the fight goes on as states look to make changes through 1115 waivers and wait for the outcome of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding reauthorization. Discussed below is some of the recent impactful waiver activity.
Forty-nine Democrats and three Republicans delivered a blow to Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal efforts last week by voting against what was then seen as the final effort to pass a bill through the Senate. Already this week, talks have ramped up of both a new repeal effort as well as bipartisan efforts to force through a “market stabilization bill.” Despite the focus on possible repeal legislation, the administration already holds one powerful card in their hand – the use of 1332 waivers – that could provide an avenue for healthcare reform through state action.