DC Digest – June 23, 2017

In Today’s Issue:
  • Senate GOP Healthcare Bill
  • House GOP Budget Resolution
  • NIH Director Testified FY18 Budget
  • Ed Dept Regulation Progress Report

SENATE GOP HEALTHCARE BILL

Senate GOP healthcare writers released their own version of Affordable Care Act “repeal and replace” legislation yesterday, June 22. They have sent their proposal to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) which is expected to have a cost estimate by early next week. Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he wants a vote on it before the July 4 recess. The Senate has 5 working days before then. Below are serveral major sticking points as the bill moves forward.

  • Cuts to Medicaid in the bill are key to the vote’s outcome. The bill would phase out federal funds for the 31 states that expanded Medicaid starting in 2021, and would end the Medicaid expansion entirely in 2024.
  • The bill would cut taxes for the wealthy. Obamacare included tax increases that hit wealthy Americans hardest in order to pay for its coverage expansion. The AHCA would get rid of those taxes.
  • The Senate bill defunds Planned Parenthood for one year. This would mean Medicaid patients could no longer seek treatment at Planned Parenthood clinics.
  • The Senate bill allows states to opt out of Obamacare’s marketplaces and essential health benefits requirement. A new waiver process would allow states to overhaul their insurance markets, including ending the essential health benefit requirement and specific subsidies that benefit low income Americans, so long as those changes do not increase the deficit.
  • There’s a rift over funding for addiction treatment and prevention. Republican senators Rob Portman (Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.) had previously requested $45 billion over a decade for efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. But the bill would only allocate a one-time fund of $2 billion in 2018.
  • The Senate bill also cuts the $15 billion in funding to expand access to mental health services that was included in the House version.

The Senate Healthcare Bill, Explained

HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE RESOLUTION

The House Budget Committee is planning to unveil a long-awaited budget resolution next week calling for a spending boost to the Pentagon alongside cuts to domestic programs, despite lingering disputes within the GOP conference.

House budget writers reached a tentative agreement this afternoon to move ahead with a resolution that would set spending levels at $511 billion for domestic programs and $621 billion for defense, two lawmakers confirmed. Compared to current law, that would amount to a $72 billion boost for defense and a $4 billion cut for domestic spending.

“We’d like to mark up next week, next Wednesday,” senior member Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said, acknowledging the committee still has “a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross.”

NIH DIRECTOR TESTIFIED FY18 BUDGET

Director Francis Collins testified June 22 before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on the FY18 NIH budget.

During the hearing, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) called the administration’s proposal to cap Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs at 10 percent a “hare-brained” idea that would result in job loss, less research, and/or higher tuition at institutions. He affirmed that Congress will be involved in any change to the F&A percentage and this involvement would be bipartisan.
For FY18, the Trump administration has proposed funding NIH at $26.9 billion, a decrease of $7.2 billion or 21-percent below the FY17 funding level. The budget also proposes a 10-percent cap on facilities and administrative (F&A) costs for NIH grants and lowering the salary cap from the current Executive Level II (2) to Executive Level V (5).

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

“No One Should Have to”

ED DEPT PROGRESS REPORT ON REGULATION

The Education Department yesterday, June 22, put out a progress report on the work of a task force charged with hunting regulations to rewrite or cut that lays out the next steps in the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back rules.

The task force was formed after President Donald Trump issued an executive order requiring all federal agencies to begin identifying regulations to eliminate.

Report Card