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On the Hill: Congress Keeps Focus on ACA Repeal and Replace

This week, Congress continues efforts to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican-proposed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) — a leader in the centrist House Tuesday Group — proposed an amendment to the AHCA that would allow states to opt out of several important insurance regulations. The conservative House Freedom Caucus endorsed the bill with the inclusion of the MacArthur amendment, but more than 20 House Republicans to date have indicated they do not support the bill with the amendment. House Republicans cannot lose more than 22 votes if they hope to pass the bill.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) told House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office April 27 that it would need at least a week to finish scoring the revised AHCA. The CBO score for the original version of the AHCA estimated the bill would increase the number of uninsured by 24 million over the next decade and increase costs for older Americans.

America’s Essential Hospitals released a statement last week on the revised version of the AHCA and an Action Alert calling on member hospitals to express to lawmakers their deep concerns about the bill.

In related news, the White House announced continued funding for ACA cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). CSR funding, currently provided through administrative authority declared by President Obama, was considered in the original continuing resolution (CR) to prevent a government shutdown. President Trump and GOP leaders discussed using the payments as a negotiating tactic for border wall funding and increased military spending. However, they ultimately decided against explicitly including the payments in the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2017, which leaves CSR funding in place for the foreseeable future. The question of administrative authority to fund CSRs remains in litigation.

In other Hill news, Reps. Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) on May 1 introduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act. The legislation would increase Medicare Graduate Medical Education resident caps for hospitals training above their current caps. America’s Essential Hospitals strongly supported the legislation in a May 2 statement.

In committee business, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on May 2 held a hearing to discuss reducing waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicaid’s Personal Care Services program.

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About the Author

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