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On the Hill: ACA Repeal, Help for the VA

The Senate voted Sunday to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but the measure failed to receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Senate Republicans have not yet given up on striking down the health care law and have indicated their interest in using budget reconciliation procedures to pass legislation repealing as much of the law as possible. Budget reconciliation allows the Senate to bypass a filibuster and pass certain pieces of legislation with a simple majority.

In the House, a measure will be considered this week that would help the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) better crack down on underperformance and misconduct by employees. The effort was spurred by reports of excessive wait times and inadequate care at VA hospitals.

In committee business, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell testified on Tuesday in the House Committee on Education and Workforce to discuss the department’s priorities. Today, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce marks up several health care bills, including measures targeting early detection of hearing impairments in children, stem cell research, and drug overdose.

The House Committee on Ways and Means is discussing moving forward on a package of hospital-related bills, similar to a bundled package proposed in late 2014. On Wednesday, Capitol Hill press reported that the committee would release three pieces of legislation that may make their way into the hospital package. These include bills to reform Medicare disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments and indirect medical education (IME) payments and a bill to create a “crosswalk” of diagnosis codes to help translate between inpatient and outpatient payment systems. These bills have not yet been released.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Wiles is the manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.