A group of Republican and Democratic governors from states with high stakes in the health care debate have sent a letter to Senate leadership about the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA).
The governors encouraged the Senate to engage in a bipartisan approach for crafting the Senate version of the bill and called into question the AHCA’s ability to cover the vulnerable, measures to shift costs to the states, and proposed Medicaid provisions. They also included guiding principles to improve the private health insurance sector.
Meanwhile, as Senate Republicans craft their own bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, they are deliberating two major Medicaid provisions related to when Medicaid expansion should be rolled back and how to best implement Medicaid per-capita caps.
There are just two weeks until the July Fourth recess — the unofficial deadline set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for Republicans to produce a bill. Under this proposed timeline, the House-passed bill would be brought to the Senate floor next week. Under the budget reconciliation rules, floor debate of the bill would be limited to 20 hours, with 10 hours allotted to each party. Sen. McConnell could wait until the end of the 20-hour debate to introduce the senate version of the bill, allowing for virtually no debate on the Senate’s provisions. The bill is not subject to a filibuster under budget resolution rules.
The Senate version of the bill must be scored by the Congressional Budget Office before a vote.
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce health subcommittee rescheduled a hearing on safety-net health programs; the hearing now will take place on June 23.
Association-Supported Bills Introduced
Last week, two bills were introduced that America’s Essential Hospitals publicly supports:
- the Closing Loopholes for Orphan Drugs Act, introduced by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Gregg Harper (R-MS), would limit the “orphan drug” exclusion under the 340B Drug Pricing Program in rural and cancer hospitals, effectively broadening the set of drugs that may be purchased at 340B prices; and
- the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act, introduced by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), would add 15,000 Medicare-funded residency positions to alleviate physician shortages that threaten patients’ access to care.