Yesterday, the House passed the revised American Healthcare Act (AHCA), taking a key step towards the repeal and replacement of Obamacare/Affordable Care Act. The bill now goes to the Senate. So, what does that mean?
As widely predicted, the Senate is expected to re-write the House repeal and replace bill to accommodate procedural hurdles in the Senate as well as to address political and policy concerns. The House bill, as amended, has not yet been scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The score is not expected for possibly two weeks. The Senate reconciliation rules require a CBO score in order to evaluate whether H.R. 1628, The American Health Care Act of 2017, is a privileged vehicle and which provisions violate the Senate Byrd Rule. This process is done in consultation with the Senate Parliamentarian and allows both sides of the aisle the opportunity to make their case. This procedural and budgetary review is expected to take weeks.
In addition, the Senate will offer a substitute to the House bill and that substitute will also need to be scored prior to any floor consideration both for political and procedural requirements. As a result, it is possible that the Senate doesn’t even start a debate until mid/late June at the earliest.
The Senate Leadership is expected to convene a working group of a cross section of Senators including Chairmen Hatch (Senate Finance Committee), Alexander (Senate HELP Committee) and Enzi (Senate Budget Committee) to address priorities and Member needs. Issues that are likely to be addressed are: the adequacy of the tax credit, Medicaid construct, and how to address the insurance mandates, among others. In the aftermath of the House celebration yesterday, Chairman Hatch emphasized that the Senate package will reflect their Members’ priorities coupled with the constraints of the reconciliation process, stating “We must manage expectation and remain focused on the art of the doable as we move forward.”
Our understanding is that the task force includes the following Members, representing Leadership, key constituencies and key issues:
> Hatch (R-UT)
> Alexander (R-TN)
> Enzi (R-WY)
> Thune (R-SD)
> Cruz (R-TX)
> Lee (R-UT)
> Cotton (R-AR)
> Gardner (R-CO)
> Barrasso (R-WY)
> Cornyn (R-TX)
> Portman (R-OH)
> Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Now, keep in mind that while hospice and palliative care are not expected to be impacted by the repeal and replace process, it is still important for advocates to pay attention to the process. Have any questions? Reach out to us at email@example.com!