“It’s déjà vu all over again.” We’re back again this week for an important round of hearings in HELP and Finance where we will be paying close attention to the tone emanating from the hearings especially after Chairman Hatch’s blunt op-ed Friday. We’re half way through the four scheduled hearings in HELP so we will also be watching for signs that a bipartisan agreement is within reach. Chairman Alexander has made it clear he is looking for a “small, balanced stabilization bill,” and is leaning on the committee to produce another bipartisan piece of legislation after a string of successful bills in recent years.
Late last week President Trump essentially cleared the decks on an end of September funding showdown, signing a continuing resolution (CR) that provides disaster relief, extends the debt limit and maintains current funding levels through December 8, 2017. As a result, this potentially sets up for a large package in December that could include the extenders from MACRA, another debit limit extension, and funding the government.
THIS WEEK IN THE HOUSE
On Thursday (9/14), the E&C Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Supporting Tomorrow’s Health Providers: Examining Workforce Programs under the Public Health Service Act.”
THIS WEEK IN THE SENATE
On Tuesday (9/12), the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual Insurance Market for 2018: State Flexibility.” You can view the witness list here.
Also on Tuesday (9/12), the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Health Care Issues Impacting Cost and Coverage.” You can view the witness list here.
On Thursday (9/14), the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual Insurance Market for 2018: Stakeholders.” You can view the witness list here.
THIS WEEK AT MACPAC
Starting on Thursday (9/14), the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) will hold its September meeting. The agenda can be found here.
WILL GRAHAM-CASSIDY GAIN MOMENTUM?
Key details of a proposal from Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Bill Cassidy (LA) were revealed last week, putting details on the table on how their plan would replace Obamacare funding with block grants. The proposal would set aside $1.2 trillion in state block grants by 2026 to be used for Medicaid expansion and private insurance subsidies, leaving in place major parts of the ACA until 2020 when a state’s block grant baseline would be established.
While this proposal is being discussed separately to the stabilization effort in HELP, we will be watching to see if this proposal gains any traction this week. The clock is ticking on moving a proposal under reconciliation, but with a number of priorities in health care facing end of month deadlines, how this proposal gets treated on both sides of the aisle is worth monitoring.
Republicans may be hesitant to make another run at Obamacare repeal especially in light of the bipartisan effort playing out in HELP. How Republicans react as more details become available should offer clues of where we go next.