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On the Hill: Budget Reconciliation, 21st Century Cures, Medicaid

With Congress back this week from the July Fourth break, Republican leaders have just a couple weeks before the July 24 deadline under budget resolution instructions to determine whether to use budget reconciliation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The procedural tactic of reconciliation would allow the GOP to circumvent a likely filibuster from Democrats to stall attempts to repeal the health care law. Republicans also could use reconciliation to carry out tax reform, should they decide against targeting the ACA.

In the House, lawmakers are set for a floor vote on the 21st Century Cures legislation this week. The amended measure now includes $8.75 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), down from $10 billion in the measure as approved by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Lawmakers reduced the NIH funding after failing to find a way to pay for the higher cost. Democratic leaders behind 21st Century Cures expressed disappointment with the lesser funding, but have maintained their support of the bill.

In committee business, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health has scheduled a hearing today to look at the Medicaid program in light of its 50th anniversary this year and consider ways to strengthen and sustain the program. Witnesses will include representatives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Government Accountability Office, and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

The Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing Tuesday on challenges and opportunities for small business health care. Also Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing on Avian Influenza threats.

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About the Author

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

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