This week the House votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with instructions for committees of jurisdiction to propose an alternative. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) noted that he wanted to give new members of the House the opportunity to vote against the law. The Senate will vote to proceed on the House-passed homeland security bill, which would fund the department through Sept. 30. The measure would prohibit President Obama from using department funding to grant temporary legal status to as many as five million undocumented immigrants. The Senate will also consider the Clay Hunt SAV Act, a measure to provide additional mental health assistance for veterans, which passed the House last month.
On Monday, President Obama released an ambitious $4 trillion budget request with a more populist political agenda than past years’ budget requests. The budget, which the administration states is focused on “middle-class economics,” is in part paid for through tax increases for the wealthy, major banks, and companies that do business overseas. The Obama administration says the budget would reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years, which would be due in part to $400 billion in health care savings related to increased care efficiencies and ACA goals. The request also includes a 6 percent increase in biomedical research and proposed savings, including hospital payment cuts, in the Medicare Program. Later this week, America’s Essential Hospitals will release a detailed summary of the health-related provisions of the president’s budget request.
In congressional committee business this week, the House Committee on Ways and Means hears testimony from U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on President Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget. Lew will also testify before the Senate Committee on Finance regarding the budget. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell will testify before the Senate Committee on Finance on the budget Wednesday. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing on the U.S. public health response to seasonal influenza and will mark up several public health bills, including two trauma care-related measures.
Last week, Democratic members of the Senate Committee on Finance collectively introduced an amendment to the Hire More Heroes Act that would extend Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding through 2019. The amendment was withdrawn due to rules about the introduction of amendments that are not germane to the bill at hand, however senators hoped to begin discussions about the urgency of passing CHIP funding legislation, which expires Sept. 30. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also plans to introduce a CHIP funding extension bill soon. Legislation in both the House and Senate to extend CHIP funding was introduced in the 113th Congress, but did not make it to the House or Senate floors.