Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


Repeal/Replace, Health Care Back in the Spotlight on Capitol Hill

The House of Representatives passed a measure (H.Res. 271) last week condemning the Trump administration’s support for a lawsuit that would invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by a vote of 240-186. Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.) voted against the measure, and eight Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the resolution: Reps. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Denver Riggleman (R-Va.), and John Katko (R-N.Y.). Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) voted present. The GOP lawmakers were largely in agreement that a replacement plan should be in place before the law is repealed. The vote was largely symbolic and was meant to put Republicans on the record regarding the White House’s stance on the 2010 health care law. Republicans have characterized the resolution as meaningless, stating that it does nothing to actually protect people should the law be struck down. It is not expected to see any movement in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also proceeded to fill the amendment tree for the disaster aid bill (H.R. 268) last week, keeping Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) from pushing a vote on an amendment that would prohibit Justice Department funds from being used to support the ACA lawsuit.

President Trump commented on the Republicans’ plan for health care in a series of tweets last week. He criticized the cost of the current health care law and stated that the Republican policy would be less expensive and more usable than the ACA and that it will be voted on after the 2020 elections when he predicted Republicans would hold the Senate and win back the House. The tweets followed a statement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he advised the President revisiting the debate to repeal and replace the ACA with a Democratic-controlled House. McConnell said that the White House will take the lead on devising a new, comprehensive health care plan. A group of Republican senators charged by President Trump with formulating an ACA replacement if the law is overturned in court has not yet formally met, according to aides. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is acting as the go-between for the group and the White House.

Senate Passes Medicaid Accountability Bill

The Senate passed by voice vote H.R. 1839, the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019, last week. The legislation would extend the Excellence in Mental Health demonstration and the Money Follows the Person Program through September. It includes a provision establishing civil monetary penalties for the knowing misclassification of covered outpatient drugs in the Medicaid drug rebate program. The bill also incorporates the provisions of the ACE Kids Act and would allow state Medicaid programs to establish health homes for children with medically complex conditions. The bill was previously passed by the House and will now be sent to the President for his signature.

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