Congress Advances ACA Repeal

January 17, 2017

On. Jan .12, the Senate approved a budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 3) by a vote of 51-48, with language setting up a special parliamentary process intended to fast-track subsequent legislation repealing major components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The House cleared the resolution the following day by a vote of 227-198.

The budget resolution includes reconciliation language directing the four relevant committees—the Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees in the Senate and the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees in the House—to each report legislation by Jan. 27, 2017, that reduces the deficit by $1 billion over the next decade.

The legislation reported by the four committees will be packaged together by the House and Senate Budget committees and, provided the bills comply with the parliamentary rules governing the budget reconciliation process, can be passed by both chambers with a simple majority vote – a potentially powerful tool for Republicans, who only control 52 seats in the Senate.

There continues to be discussion among Congressional Republicans and incoming President-elect Donald Trump on delaying repeal until the party has agreed on provisions that would replace, in full or in part, the coverage expansion under the ACA. Most recently, on Jan. 11, Trump stated that his administration will offer its own repeal-and-replace package in the coming weeks after his nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Resources—Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who currently chairs the House Budget Committee and sits on the Ways and Means Committee – is confirmed by the Senate. Rep. Price’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for Jan. 18.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), alluded to the possibility of the Ways and Means Committee likely marking up its reconciliation bill the week after House and Senate Republicans return from their joint planning retreat (scheduled for January 25-27) and then send the measure to the House Budget Committee, with floor action by the House in late February.

NSBA believes the small-business community needs substantial relief from the ACA. This level of relief can only be achieved through a broad reform of the current health care system with a goal of reducing the cost of coverage, and providing universal coverage, focus on individual responsibility and empowerment, the creation of the right market-based incentives, and a relentless focus on improving quality while driving out unnecessary, wasteful and harmful care and removing added expenses.

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