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On the Hill: Medicaid Task Force, Reconciliation, Ways and Means Chair

This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that the Senate will take up the House-passed reconciliation bill that includes a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act. But McConnell indicated that the House version, which left Medicaid expansion intact, would not pass in the Senate.

Senate Republicans plan to expand the bill through an open amendment process to achieve a full repeal of the health care law, including its Medicaid expansion provisions. Also, some observers speculate that the Senate will not include in its version a House-passed provision to block taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood for one year.

Last week, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) was elected to serve as chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, replacing former chair Paul Ryan (R-WI), who was elected House speaker. Before his promotion, Brady served as the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee chair. A replacement for his subcommittee position has yet to be named.

In committee business last week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on improving Medicare and Medicaid that included two bills on Medicaid supplemental payments. The Improving Oversight and Accountability in Medicaid Non-DSH Supplemental Payments Act (H.R. 2151) would develop guidance on how states may calculate providers’ non-disproportionate share hospital (DSH) supplemental payments and require states to annually report on these payments. The Medicaid Requiring Expenditures for Public Objectives to be Reflective of Total Spending Act (H.R. 1362) would require states to annually submit a report on how the state sourced its non-federal share of Medicaid funds. After the hearing, Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) announced the creation of a Medicaid task force, to be chaired by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and composed of seven other Republican members of the committee.

Following enactment of a two-year budget deal that includes a substantial cut to Medicare reimbursement for new hospital outpatient departments, America’s Essential Hospitals is exploring opportunities to protect future essential hospital clinics from these damaging cuts. More details will be available in the coming days.

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About the Author

Walsh is the senior manager of legislative affairs for America's Essential Hospitals.