The House of Representatives last week passed a tax reform package, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, with a final vote of 227-205.

The Senate Committee on Finance also passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which includes a provision to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Senate leaders plan to bring the bill to the floor after the Thanksgiving holiday and aim to pass the bill by the end of the year.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis of the tax reform legislation, which, under the current budget resolution, could increase the budget deficit by $1.5 trillion over ten years. The CBO found that such a bill which would break statutory budget caps, leading to an automatic cut of an estimated $25 billion from Medicare. The CBO also released an analysis of the Senate bill and the provision to repeal the individual mandate, reporting that 13 million would lose access to healthcare coverage and premiums would increase by an average of ten percent.

America’s Essential Hospitals released an Action Update for members comparing the provisions in each bill that affect essential hospitals. The association also sent a letter to House leadership expressing concerns with these provisions.

The Senate has yet to reauthorize funding for a number of health care extenders that expired nearly two months ago, including:

  • the Children’s Health Insurance Program;
  • community health centers;
  • Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments;
  • the National Health Service Corps;
  • the Maternal Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program; and
  • the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program.

America’s Essential Hospitals and six other health care groups sent a letter to Senate and House leadership to urge legislative action to fund these programs.

Committee Activity

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing on Alex Azar’s nomination as the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary on Nov. 29. Senate Republican leaders hope to confirm Azar before the end of the year. The Senate Committee on Finance has yet to schedule a hearing for Azar’s confirmation.

The HELP Committee also will hear states’ and providers’ perspectives on the opioid crisis at a hearing on Nov. 30.