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CCTS Newsletter | October 6, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andres Bachelet
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Dale Dirks and Dane Christiansen

October 6, 2017

The resignation of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price, capped off a chaotic return to Capitol Hill for lawmakers. In the Senate, the time spent between Labor Day and the October 1st start of the Fiscal Year (FY) was largely dedicated to advancing any legislation that could “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Ultimately though, the recent healthcare proposals, mainly Graham-Cassidy, drew widespread condemnation from patients, providers, hospitals, and even the insurance industry (which feared the proposed slashing of insurance requirements would destabilize markets and push a majority of Americans into government-funded healthcare) and failed to move forward. By not acting before October 1st (due to budgetary rules), the votes needed to pass healthcare legislation out of the Senate increased from a simple majority to 60, likely stymying any drastic efforts until the next session of Congress.


With repeal and replace on the back-burner for the time being, the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee resumed bipartisan negotiations to craft a narrow legislative package focused on stabilizing the insurance markets. The HELP Committee held a number of recent hearings, but has yet to produce a proposal outlining potential changes.


While FY 2018 began at the start of October, Congress has yet to enact any of the annual appropriations bill. Presently, the government is operating on a level-funding Continuing Resolution (CR) that extends FY 2017 funding levels until mid-December. The House has passed all of their FY 2018 spending measures, but the Senate is taking a slower approach to its bills. A key unresolved issue remains the lack of a budget that has the House and Senate working off of different funding allocations. Before the end of the year, legislators will need to address the budget as well as a number of other high-profile issues in order to enact FY 2018 spending measures and provide meaningful funding increases for clinical and translational research and career development programs. It is unclear if the disruptions at HHS and the uncertainty within the administration will further complicate this process.