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Topic: Policy & Health Reform
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.
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) won another huge battle against TrumpCare this week, but the war rages on. The threat will continue to loom until Trump is removed from office, Democrats retake the House or Senate, or the Senate provides him a win with a bipartisan market stabilization bill in the wake of the stinging defeat of Graham-Cassidy, his third failure to repeal the ACA.
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.
I worked on single-payer healthcare legislation for US Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), my hometown Congressman from Detroit and an early leader on the issue with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) in the 90’s. It’s not surprising the idea has gone nowhere in the 26 years since. While my heart is in it as a means of universal coverage, Bernie’s “Medicare for All” proposal as dropped this week is a conversation piece, and that’s it. It’s DOA as legislation.
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.
A little section in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) is bringing big changes to Medicare supplemental insurance, also known as Medigap, bought by more than 12 million seniors to help fill in the coverage holes in traditional Medicare. In the vast majority of cases, Medigap purchasers augment their coverage with a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). That means MACRA’s changes will cause a seismic event in senior markets – Medicare Advantage, Medigap insurers, and PDPs – nationally, starting now.
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: