News & Press: Advocacy News

CCTS Newsletter | January 6, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Blake Goodman
Share |

CCTS Newsletter Copy
Dale Dirks and Dane Christiansen
January 6, 2016

 The 115th Congress convened on Tuesday, January 3rd, with a number of high-profile items and daunting legislative tasks already pending before legislators. During the first few months of the year, Congress will consider finalizing appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2017, begin the FY 2018 appropriations process, face raising the debt ceiling, and work to confirm the cabinet nominations for the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump. Most pressingly though, Republican legislators will need to find a path forward to advance the campaign pledge to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

Most observers agree that the congressional repeal and replace effort will unfold as two distinct processes. The first process is a relatively quick repeal of the most prominent provisions of the ACA with some sort of 2 or 3 year glide path period in which individuals who are currently insured could continue to be insured. Ongoing coverage would also reduce the potential for destabilizing health insurance markets and creating havoc on existing policies. Then, after the repeal, the second process of long-term replacement would be debated and developed by legislators and the administration during the remainder of the 115th Congress. New details and speculation on a replacement plan emerge and fade every day, and because the nation’s health care system and the ACA are comprehensive and complicated, a modification or change in one area usually means it has an impact in another area.

Needless to say, both patient and provider groups have a stake in the outcome of this major debate. Provider organizations such as the American Medical Association, specialty physician groups, and hospitals like the fact that there are 20 million more American who have viable health insurance and are able to access the healthcare system. These organizations are coalescing around maintaining coverage and essential benefits and insist that any repeal effort be accompanied by a delay in implementation while a replacement plan is put in place.

It is important to note that medical research and patient care advocates should expect to make their voice heard and that their elected officials will consider their input during this tumultuous time. As changes to the healthcare system are on the table, there is a potential to seek further improvements in addition to defending recent gains. While politicians may disagree on some technical points or message differently, there is a unified, underlying interest in ensuring the country has a strong, comprehensive, and accessible healthcare system.