Welcome back everybody. With Congress returning from recess, we should expect an update on the progress of the Senate-version of the American Health Care Act. Despite the noise from GOP members about a timeline, one thing remains clear: If there isn’t bill text by the end of the month the prospects of this getting done greatly decrease. The Administration is going to be pushing health care this summer, and that will start this week with Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price testifying on the FY 2018 HHS budget. We are also two-and-half weeks away from the June 21st deadline, the date in which insurers generally must decide if they will participate in the Obamacare Marketplace in 2018. Expect that to come up a lot over the next few weeks, with the potential for even GOP members raising concerns regarding rising premiums.
Also on our radar, the reauthorization of user fees will need to be nearing the finish line by the end of the month, as well as the Minibus which will be leaving the station in hopes of being done by the end of September. Can Congress work together on must-pass issues like the Minibus while repeal-and-replace and tax reform hang in the balance? That’s the question on our minds as we head into this work period, which we put something together on here.
THIS WEEK IN THE HOUSE
On Wednesday (6/7), the House Ways & Means (W&M) Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Medicare Advantage Hearing on Promoting Integrated and Coordinated Care for Medicare Beneficiaries.” On Thursday (6/8), the W&M Committee will host Secretary Price for a hearing on the HHS budget for FY 2018.
We expect the Energy & Commerce Committee to schedule a full committee markup of the UFA reauthorizations this week, but no such notice has been sent out yet.
THIS WEEK IN THE SENATE
On Wednesday (6/7), the Senate Finance Committee will consider the nomination of Eric Hargan to be Deputy Secretary of HHS. Hargan served in HHS during the Bush 43 Administration, and most recently has been at the law firm Greenberg Traurig. What he is asked will be worth noting.
On Thursday (6/8), the Senate Finance Committee will also host Secretary Price for a hearing on the HHS budget.
HEALTH OF INDIVIDUAL HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETS
There have been a handful of GOP senators casting doubt on the prospects of a repeal-and-replace package. One senior GOP member recently suggested short-term market stabilization in order to keep insurance markets working. At a forum with the Bipartisan Policy Center last week, health insurance experts suggested reinsurance funding and payments for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) as vital to the health of insurance markets. They even said the uncertainty around CSRs as influencing their premium rates for 2018. The issue with Congress and the Administration is moving beyond the current stalemate towards an actual solution.