With the close of federal fiscal year (FY) 2017 on Sept. 30, congressional efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ended for now and lawmakers shifted their focus to tax reform and other health care issues.
ACA Market Stabilization Efforts
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) this week resumes work on a plan to stabilize the ACA’s individual insurance market, for which the rate filing deadline for insurers already has passed. Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) have announced their intention to reach a final agreement on market stabilization this week.
DSH Not Included in Committee Bills on Health Program Funding
Meanwhile, funding for several high-priority health care programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), expired with the end of the fiscal year. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Finance both are working to finalize legislation reauthorizing funding for CHIP. The Finance Committee will meet on Oct. 4 to mark up bipartisan legislation, which extends CHIP funding for five years and gradually phases out an ACA funding bump for the program.
The Energy and Commerce Committee also will mark up legislation to reauthorize CHIP funding, along with separate bills to fund community health centers and other health care programs for which funding expired on Sept. 30. Mark-up on the CHIP legislation has not yet been announced, but likely will take place on Oct. 4. This bill reportedly will not delay Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) cuts, which went into effect Oct. 1.
America’s Essential Hospitals is urging Congress to include at least a two-year DSH delay in any legislation extending funding for CHIP. Last week, a majority of the House of Representatives — 221 members in total, including 59 Republicans and 162 Democrats from 41 states — sent a letter to House leaders urging them to halt the onset of DSH cuts.