Congressional Corner

Print

 

 

April 27, 2017

FY17 Budget Negotiations Update

On April 26, Congressional appropriators released text for a one-week continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open through May 5 while they continue work on legislation to fund the government through Sept. 30. The CR maintains the current budget cap level of $1.07 trillion, put into place under the Budget Control Act of 2011. The CR legislation continues policy and funding provisions included in the currently enacted fiscal year 2016 appropriations legislation, as well as provisions for healthcare benefits for retired coal miners and their dependents through the duration of the CR. As it stands, the CR has not yet passed Congress. ASTHO will continue to monitor ongoing budget negotiations and provide updates.

Health Reform Negotiations

The House of Representatives is currently working to pass another version of the American Health Care Act, which includes an amendment aimed at brin­­ging together the two factions of the Republican party, the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) introduced the amendment on April 20, just before the spring recess.

The amendment allows states to apply for three different kinds of waivers.

  1. Allows states to change the ratio on how insurers price plans for older versus younger adults (age rating).  
  2. Allows states to specify their own set of essential health benefits for the individual and small group markets.
  3. Allow states to permit insurers to charge different amounts to consumers based on health status.

The amendment’s language also includes an exemption for congressional staff. However, following news coverage, the House will remove the exemption in a separate bill.

Although there is still no vote scheduled, this is a rapidly evolving situation, so please stay tuned!

SMASH Act

ASTHO, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, and the Association of Public Health Laboratories sent a letter to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murry (D-WA) thanking them for their support of the bi-partisan S. 849, Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health (SMASH) Act. Sen. Angus King (I-ME) introduced the bill. Specifically, the legislation includes language to reauthorize CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Cooperative Grant Program from 2018-2023. It would also authorize five years of grant funding to local mosquito-control efforts to eliminate the mosquitos responsible for spreading vector-borne diseases such as the Zika virus. Additionally, the bill includes a study on the state of surveillance and control of mosquito-borne infectious diseases in the United States and territories, including the state of preparedness for conducting such surveillance and control. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the bill on Wednesday. Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL-09) introduced the companion bill, H.R. 1310, which was referred to the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. ASTHO will continue to monitor this legislation.

Chronically Uninsured Data Release

CDC released a report entitled “Changes in Characteristics of Chronically Uninsured Adults: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, 2010–September 2016.” Highlights from the report include a decrease in chronically uninsured adults aged 18-64 (i.e., adults who have lacked coverage for more than a year). This number fell from 16.8 percent in 2010 to 7.6 percent in the first nine months of 2016. Much of the decrease took place primarily between 2013 and the first 9 months of 2016.