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CCTS Newsletter | December 15, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andres Bachelet
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Dale Dirks and Dane Christiansen

December 15, 2017


As the 115th Congress wraps up its first session, Republican legislators continue to work to finalize a comprehensive package of tax cuts. While numerous competing priorities have emerged and details are still being hashed out, the final proposal looks to be a mixed bag for healthcare. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to purchase insurance is likely to be preserved, while provision eliminating the Orphan Drug Tax Credit for rare disease treatment development and the medical device deduction that individuals use to offset healthcare costs are likely to be stripped from a final measure or significantly modified. Additional healthcare-related revenue items, such as the current prohibition on the medical device tax and health plan taxes, are expected to be extended through subsequent legislation.


With so much attention dedicated to tax reform, it has been difficult for lawmakers to finalize appropriations for FY 2018. Further complicating these efforts is the lack of a budget agreement that sets uniform top-line spending numbers for both defense and non-defense programs. In an effort to advance the process, key legislators in the House of Representatives recently introduced legislation to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program, increase funding for defense activities, and provide a Continuing Resolution (CR) for other federal programs through January 19th. Due to a number of discrepancies with funding priorities and policy riders, the Senate is not expected to adopt the House measure although the overall process may continue to move toward agreement on a final FY 2018 spending bill. At this point though, efforts to finalize FY 2018 appropriations and hopefully provided funding increases for key federal programs are expected to spill over into early 2018.


Pending in FY 2018 appropriations are significant funding increases for the National Institutes of Health, the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program, the Institutional Development Awards Program, and many other clinical and translational research activities. Final appropriations are also needed to continue to advance research efforts at the Department of Defense and for Congress to provide timely instructions related to resources for the CTSAs, the Research Centers at Minority Institutions program, and research training and career development activities. With ongoing delays in crafting a final FY 2018 appropriations measure and the continued absence of a budget deal, there is a possibility that lawmakers may simply provide a year-long CR that would forgo funding increases and opportunities to update policy.