Congressional Corner




Oct. 19, 2017

Healthcare Stabilization Deal Update

Earlier this week, Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray, ranking member of the committee, announced a bipartisan deal on a short-term package of provisions designed to stabilize the ACA insurance marketplace.

The text of the bill was released today with strong bipartisan support. A detailed legislative summary by ASTHO consultants at Cornerstone Government Affairs can be read here. The original sponsors of the bill include the following Republican senators: Burr, Cassidy, Collins, Corker, Ernst, Graham, Grassley, Isakson, McCain, Murkowski, and Rounds. The following Democrat senators are also original sponsors of the bill: King, Shaheen, Donnelly, Heitkamp, Franken, Klobuchar, Manchin, Carper, Baldwin, McCaskill and Hassan.

Importantly, ten governors sent a letter in support of the Alexander-Murray compromise bill yesterday.

According to CQHealthbeat, it appears that this proposal has the 60 votes necessary to garner approval in the Senate. However, yesterday, both House Speaker Ryan and President Trump indicated that they do not support the bill. Despite their initial reactions, there are indications that this bill or a modified version will get wrapped up in a year-end package.  

Disaster Funding

CQ reports that FEMA projects the National Flood Insurance Program could exhaust all available funds to pay claims sometime next week. Senators are still negotiating funding levels in the emergency supplemental bill, which could mean that the House will have to reconsider the aid package (HR 2266).

Senate Budget Moves Forward

The Senate will finish debate today on the FY18 budget resolution (H Con Res 71) and begin “vote-a-rama” that could last well into this evening. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said recently that the budget could boost defense resources if a deal to raise the limits created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (PL 112-25) are reached. It is expected that Republicans have the support necessary to pass the resolution.

CHIP Extension Update

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has not yet reached a deal to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) (HR 3921), Community Health Centers (HR 3922), and other public health laws. It is expected that the committee will continue negotiations upon return from recess next week.