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.
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.
On Monday, the House Republican caucus unveiled their long awaited health reform plan that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill, titled the American Health Care Act (AHCA), subsequently passed the two primary House committees of jurisdiction. The House Energy & Commerce Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee held marathon hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, with the former lasting more than 27 hours while they considered amendments offered by Democrats (none of which were accepted). The vote approving the bill out of committee fell along party lines, with House Republicans voting unanimously in favor of the bill and every Democratic member opposing it.
Next week, we expect the bill to have a similar markup hearing in the House Budget committee, paving the way for the legislation to be introduced for a floor vote by the full House before the end of the month. On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release its score assessing the impact of the AHCA on the healthcare system, and it is expected to show a loss of health coverage reaching as many as 15 million individuals.
The Conservative House Freedom Caucus, which famously pushed Speaker Boehner out of office, has continued to push for a provision that would halt state Medicaid expansion by the end of this year. That provision would make it even more difficult for the AHCA to pass the Senate, where Republican Senators from Medicaid expansion states have said that provision would be a non-starter. With the bill expected to face a close vote in the Senate, the slim two-vote Republican majority means that only two Senators can defect.
Following the expected House vote before the end of the month, the Senate will likely try to bring it up for a vote in the first half of April, before Congress breaks for Easter recess.