GOP Pushes the AHCA, Supreme Court hearings and more


On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The hearings are expected to last four days, with Gorsuch hoping to avoid hot-button issues like access to reproductive rights, campaign finance, and executive powers. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) hopes to have Gorsuch’s nomination voted out of committee by April 3rd and a vote before the full Senate by April 8th (before the two-week Easter recess).

Last week, House Republicans advanced the American Health Care Act (AHCA), their repeal-and-replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, out of the House Budget Committee following a blistering Congressional Budget Office report of the impact of the legislation. The AHCA bill is expected to be considered by the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, where the Republican majority on the panel is expected to approve the bill and send it to the floor for a full House vote.  The full House is expected to vote on the legislation some time Thursday, which is the seventh anniversary of the signing of the current ACA law. ANA opposed the current AHCA legislation in a letter sent to Capitol Hill leaders earlier this month.

House Republican leaders are frantically whipping votes in favor of the bill, but the continued chorus of complaints from the conservative House Freedom Caucus and more moderate members has set the stage for a razor thin margin in the lead up to Thursday’s vote. House Republican leaders are expected to release a ‘Manager’s Amendment,’ which is a series of changes to the legislation that can be made by House leadership following the regular committee process to shore up support for the bill. The expected changes to be released later this week would be to:

1) Allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients (appeasing conservative members)

2) And expand health tax credits for seniors (appeasing moderate members).

Though Freedom Caucus members still take umbrage with the current bill for not going far enough and moderates are concerned with the number of Americans that could lose coverage, the changes could be enough to get Republican to the 216 votes needed to pass the bill.

Stay tuned to the Capitol Beat for further updates on health reform and other activity happening on Capitol Hill.

An Unhealthy Budget


President Donald Trump released his budget plan for fiscal year 2018 yesterday morning, presenting Congress with a blueprint for how he believes they should fund the federal government. Unfortunately the President’s proposed budget will weaken the nation’s health care system and jeopardize the scientific research that’s necessary to keep Americans healthy. The ANA opposes the President’s budget, and urges Congress to reject it in favor of a plan that doesn’t compromise health care in favor of political and partisan posturing.

Photo: Shawn Thew, European Pressphoto Agency
Photo: Shawn Thew, European Pressphoto Agency

The President’s budget, which represents his priorities but does not carry the power of the appropriations process controlled by Congress, makes a number of ill-considered cuts when it comes to the American health care system, including:

  • A $403 million reduction in funding for health professions and nursing workforce programs;
  • A $5.8 billion cut from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget, constituting a 22% reduction in funding for scientific research to find medical cures, and;
  • A decision to fold the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ARHQ) into the NIH. Currently, AHRQ is the only federal agency mandated to conduct health services research.

“As the demand for high-quality health care intensifies, Congress must firmly invest in the nation’s largest health-care workforce, registered nurses. Decreasing funding by $403 million will significantly cripple efforts to effectively recruit, train and educate nurses for practice in rural and medically underserved communities,” said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN.

The ANA is instead urging Congress to provide $244 million to fund nursing workforce development programs, $160 million for the National Institute of Nursing Research, $380 million for the National Health Service Corps, and to restore AHRQ’s funding to at least $364 million in FY 2018.

Despite the organization’s concerns over these misguided cuts, the ANA does support the President’s call for a $500 million increase to expand opioid misuse prevention and treatment efforts.

GOP Health Plan CBO Score


Earlier today, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its assessment (commonly referred to as a ‘score’) of how the House Republican health care plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), will impact the healthcare market and it’s cost estimates. The CBO found that the plan, which repeals the Obama era ACA law and is replaced with AHCA, would result in over 24 million individuals being uninsured by the year 2026.

The House Republican plan would make cuts to Medicaid, cutting the deficit by $337 billion over the next decade. The CBO also found that premiums in the individual market will rise by 15%-20% over the current law; the rise in premiums is attributed to the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate.

The CBO estimates present a political challenge for House Republicans, with the immediate effects of an ACA repeal and an AHCA replacement resulting in 14 million more uninsured individuals by next year. A sizable shift in the uninsured population could translate in to a backlash in the lead up to the 2018 midterm election. The plan would likely also face significant opposition from Republican and Democratic Governors alike.

We’ll continue to closely monitor developments around healthcare reform, and urge you to continue to following Capitol Beat and our RN Action twitter account for the updates.