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On the Hill: Congress Considers Health Program Reauthorizations

As Congress returns from a month-long recess, lawmakers will consider key pieces of legislation and policy related to Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding, insurance market stabilization, and cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. They also could renew focus on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Congress is seeking to pass a set of health policy extenders (known as the “minibus”) by Sept. 30, including halting disproportionate share hospital payment reductions and reauthorizing funding for:

  • CHIP;
  • community health centers;
  • the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting Program; and
  • the National Health Service Corps.

An America’s Essential Hospitalsled coalition on Sept. 5 sent a letter to Congress requesting immediate funding for these priorities. The minibus needs 60 votes to pass, making a bipartisan effort necessary. Short-term extensions are likely, given the timing of competing priorities and sensitivities regarding the initial failure of ACA repeal efforts.

Meanwhile, the fate of CSR payments remains uncertain. Some states are working with their insurance carriers to submit additional rate filings in anticipation of the payments ending; others have set rates and decisions already have been made. Congress and the administration must make a final decision on CSR payments by Sept. 27, the deadline for insurance market plans to sign contracts with the federal government to participate in the marketplace in 2018.

Committee Activity

This week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold two hearings on stabilizing premiums in the individual insurance market for 2018. A hearing on Sept. 6 will include testimony from state insurance commissioners; a second hearing on Sept. 7 will include testimony from various governors.

The Senate Committee on Finance on Sept. 7 will hold a hearing on CHIP reauthorization.


About the Author

Erin Delaney is a former legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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