This week, Members of Congress across the country held town halls during this week’s district work period. These town halls largely focused on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the future of healthcare. Congressional Republicans, who hope to have the ACA repealed later this spring, faced throngs of constituents concerned over the uncertain future of the law. One of the most pointed moments came on Tuesday, when Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was confronted by a farmer in his state who protested that he wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance if it weren’t for the law’s healthcare subsidies. Other constituents pleaded with the Senator, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, to simply reform the law rather than repealing it. Polls have recently shown the law’s growing popularity.
On Thursday, former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) predicted that Congressional Republicans would not fully repeal and replace the ACA. Boehner insisted that changes would be made to the law, but that the structure would largely stay the same. He alleged that in his 25 years in Congress, “Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like.”
Congress is back in session next week. On Wednesday, the House Education and Workforce Committee are having a hearing on “Legislative Proposals to Improve Health Care Coverage and Provide Lower Costs for Families,” and on Thursday the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will have a hearing “Examining FDA’s Generic Drug and Biosimilar User Fee Programs.”
ACA Replacement Leak:
On Friday, a leaked draft bill from the House Energy & Commerce committee on an ACA replacement bill was making the rounds in Washington. The bill, dated February 10th, would phase out federal funds by 2020 for those states that expanded Medicaid. The draft also eliminates federal subsidies for individuals to obtain coverage, while adding a tax credit that would increase based on an individual’s age. The tax credit, which has been a longstanding Republican healthcare idea, would do away with income-based thresholds and would range between $2,000 and $4,000. The draft legislation is expected to go through several iterations before it’s sent to markup in mid-March. ANA’s Government Affairs and Health Policy teams will continue monitoring healthcare legislation; stay tuned for updates on Capitol Beat.