The Repeal and Replace Effort Moves to the House Budget Committee
After two marathon markups, the Republican repeal and replace effort is expected to continue on to the House Committee on the Budget. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Ways and Means endured partisan markups due to numerous amendments which largely focused on the Medicaid expansion, preventing the repeal of specific Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions, the lack of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score, and protecting individuals with preexisting conditions. Both committees favorably reported their reconciliation instructions to the House Committee on the Budget. It is being widely reported that the CBO will release the official score of the bill on Monday, March 13 and the House Committee on the Budget will share their markup schedule the same day. It is likely that the markup will be held on Wednesday, March 15. Speaker Ryan stated that the House of Representatives plans to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by the end of the month. Upon House passage, the legislation will be forwarded to the Senate where Leader McConnell hopes to hold a vote before the April recess. This will be a difficult task as opposition grows against the bill. Industry stakeholders including AARP, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the American Medical Association do not support the AHCA. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are opposed to the Medicaid reforms in Title I of the reconciliation instructions. Additionally, conservative opposition continues to increase. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) believe the bill is headed in the wrong direction. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been vocal about his opposition to the legislation and worked with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to introduce reconciliation language in the House and Senate which mirrors the 2015 language. House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) stated that he expects Republican critics to offer a “plethora of amendments” when the AHCA reaches the House Committee on Rules. The White House is working to address the conservative criticism of the AHCA. President Trump gathered with key conservative groups opposed to the bill on Wednesday evening, and Vice President Pence and Secretary Price hosted conservative leaders for a listening session regarding the multi-faceted repeal and replace approach on Friday. Party leaders stress that budget reconciliation is step one of a three-pronged approach. Actions from the Administration and the introduction of additional health care legislation requiring a 60 vote threshold in the Senate will follow.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, March 14: The House Committee on Rules will hold a business meeting on formulating the rule on H.R. 1367, to improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs; H.R. 1259, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017; and H.R. 1181, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act.
- Wednesday, March 15: The House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources will hold a hearing titled “Reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program.”
- Wednesday, March 15: The Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing titled “Raising Grandchildren in the opioid crisis and beyond.”
- Wednesday, March 15: The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing titled “GAO’s High Risk List and the Veterans Health Administration.”
- Thursday, March 16: The House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies will hold a hearing titled “Investing in the Future- Early Childhood Education Programs at the Department of Health and Human Services.”
- Thursday, March 16: The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will hold a hearing titled “Health hiring: Enabling the VA to recruit and retain quality providers.”