As the temperature rises in D.C. so does the temperature dial in the Senate. We're entering week two of the June work period and the timeline for a Senate-version of the AHCA is still unclear. The work is ongoing, and while there were signs of momentum last week, news over the weekend reflected growing concerns from the more conservative wing of the party. There is also growing unrest on the Democratic side at the closed-door nature of the Senate AHCA process. The longer we are without a bill, the more you will hear this sentiment. That should play out this week when the House and Senate return to regular order talking about safety net programs and drug pricing in their respective hearings. For the Senate, finding consensus on the AHCA is the top priority.
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration last week published a request for information on how to stabilize the individual and small group insurance markets. Specifically, the Administration is seeking feedback on how to improve key principles in health care such as "affordability, accessibility, quality innovation, and empowerment." Comments can be submitted here and will be accepted until July 12, 2017. We are here to answer your questions.
THIS WEEK IN THE HOUSE
On Wednesday (6/14), the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee will host a hearing titled, "Examining the Extension of the Safety Net Health Programs." Click here for more information.
THIS WEEK IN THE SENATE
On Tuesday (6/13), the Senate HELP Committee will host a hearing titled, "The Cost of Prescription Drugs: How the Drug Delivery System Affects What Patients Pay" Click here for more information.
SEVEN YEAR PHASE OUT IN PLAY?
Last week, a number of key GOP Senators showed support for a proposed seven-year phase out of the Medicaid expansion funding in the Affordable Care Act. This is seen as an important bridge for keeping the more pragmatist wing at the table despite the risk of alienating the more conservative branch of the party. With this proposal on the table, it cannot be stressed enough how critical this week is for the Senate. If proposals like this can live alongside transformative Medicaid proposals like per-capita caps, that's an indication they are making progress.
If the Senate working group's goal is to get something, anything out the door, they will be forced to find a balance between the pragmatists and conservatives. Satisfying the pragmatists will require significant additional spending. Significant additional spending may force the working group to slow or drop some of the AHCA's tax cuts. Will Senate conservatives be able to support a bill with the tax cuts and perhaps the abortion-related provisions dropped from the bill? That is the key question moving forward.