Republican congressional leaders aim to pass a sweeping tax reform bill this week after gaining support from Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), who initially opposed the bill. It is still unclear if Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) will support or oppose the legislation. Collins in recent weeks has worked with leadership to ensure that the Murray-Alexander and the Collins-Nelson bills will be passed alongside the tax bill to stabilize the insurance marketplace. It is uncertain if these bills will be considered by either chamber.
The final tax deal released last week by the conference committee includes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, as well as the repeal of advance refunding bonds. The medical expense deduction tax credit will decrease from 10 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 7.5 percent of AGI for the first two years of the policy, and then increase back to 10 percent AGI.
The final version of the bill likely will come to the floor for a vote early this week. It is still uncertain which branch of Congress will vote first.
Congress also will need to pass a final spending package by Dec. 22 to avoid a government shutdown. The House version of the Continuing Resolution (CR) includes funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but only as a patch to enable states to receive leftover funds from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CHIP funding for fiscal year 2018 was not included. The House CR also includes a two-year delay of Medicaid disproportionate share hospital cuts and funding for community health centers for two years. Congressional Republicans are considering a one-week CR to keep the government functioning through Dec. 29 and force Congress to reconvene next week to finalize a longer-term CR.