ACA re­peal is top pri­or­ity for the 115th Congress

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Shelby Liv­ingston

The 115th Congress is ex­pected to im­me­di­ately launch an as­sault on Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sig­na­ture health­care law.

A bare-bones bud­get res­o­lu­tion act­ing as a ve­hi­cle to dis­man­tle the Af­ford­able Care Act will get a House floor vote this week, ac­cord­ing to a memo from Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the in­com­ing chair­man of the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee, as first re­ported by CQ Roll Call.

That means the Se­nate needs only a ma­jor­ity vote to take up and pass the bud­get res­o­lu­tion.

“They are ea­ger to prove they are ca­pa­ble of gov­ern­ing and keep­ing their prom­ises,” said John Gor­man, a for­mer CMS of­fi­cial who is now a health­care con­sul­tant in Wash­ing­ton.

The ex­pe­dited process would al­low Repub­li­cans to strip fund­ing for ma­jor parts of the health­care law, like the cost-shar­ing sub­si­dies, Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion and pre­mium sta­bi­liza­tion pro­grams. GOP lead­ers have also sig­naled they will ax the man­date re­quir­ing peo­ple to en­roll in health cov­er­age as soon as pos­si­ble.

Bud­get rec­on­cil­i­a­tion bills can only in­clude pro­vi­sions with a bud­getary im­pact and that do not raise spend­ing, so there would likely be a de­lay— pos­si­bly by as much as three years—be­fore Repub­li­cans im­ple­ment a plan to re­place the ACA.

Health­care in­dus­try lead­ers warn that de­lay­ing a re­place­ment plan could cause the in­di­vid­ual in­sur­ance mar­ket to col­lapse and en­dan­ger hos­pi­tals that would pro­vide un­com­pen­sated care for the 20 mil­lion peo­ple who would be­come unin­sured once the ACA is nixed.

A vote to re­peal the ACA is ex­pected soon.

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