FY 2017 Funding Update:
Last Friday, the President signed into law a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that will keep the government running through September. The bill had passed the Senate earlier by a vote of 79-18 and the House by a vote of 309-118. You can read more about the spending bill by visiting our Weekly WIC Policy Update from Monday.
ACA Repeal Update:
The Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed the House 217-213 last Thursday. No Democrats voted for the bill, and 20 Republicans voted against it. The bill seeks to repeal and replace large portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
House Republicans spent the last several weeks trying to revive their original version of AHCA, which failed to win enough support in March and never made it to a floor vote.
Republican lawmakers made several revisions to the bill, including a recent amendment that would add $8 billion over five years and that Republican leadership claims to cover insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, but many analysts disagree about the provision's adequacy.
Nevertheless, the addition appeared to win support from moderate Republicans who previously opposed the bill as well as some who were undecided.
In a troubling move, House Republican leaders moved forward with the vote despite the lack of a score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimates how it would affect Americans with health insurance and the federal deficit. The CBO's score of the original bill estimated that 24 million people would lose their insurance coverage over the course of the next ten years.
The bill would (among other things): Repeal the individual and employer mandates put in place by the ACA that requires people to carry insurance or face a tax penalty; provide refundable tax credits to help people afford coverage; expand health savings accounts; and phase out an expansion of Medicaid.
Health and medical advocacy groups have openly opposed the AHCA through all of its forms. The president of the American Medical Association (AMA), Andrew W. Gurman, warned last Wednesday that "millions of Americans will lose their health insurance as a direct result of this proposal."
AHCA now faces an uncertain path in the Senate. Republican senators plan to write a bill that could be considerably different from the one passed last week by the House, including keeping some of the benefits and safeguards of the ACA. “The Senate is starting from scratch,” Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said during an interview on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. Sen. Collins, who ranks among the most moderate of Republican senators, and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said one of their top goals is to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions continue to have the same or better coverage. Thirteen Republican senators have been selected to draft their own version of the legislation. As of yet, no Democrats have been asked to weigh in.
Before they begin seriously crafting a new version of the bill, senators must await CBO’s score of the House bill to make sure their bill complies with reconciliation procedures. Reconciliation, which is being used so that only 51 votes are needed for passage, requires that any budget savings in the House-passed bill is preserved in the Senate version. The revised Senate bill will be ultimately sent back to the House or to a conference committee for more negotiations. Some Republican senators predict that it could take until the fall to send a bill to the President for his signature.
We will keep you posted of the bill’s progress.