Health Care Updates from Congress
What's the issue?
September 30 was the deadline to pass a variety of health care proposals we shared with you last month. See below for updates.
Senators fail to pass Graham-Cassidy bill
On September 26, Senate Republican leaders announced they would not vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill. As discussed in the last issue of the Advocacy Brief, the bill would dramatically change Medicaid funding. The bill was at least three votes short of passage. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul, MD (R-Ky.) all stated they would oppose the legislation.
Due to the short timeframe, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was not able to fully score the bill. Initial analysis reveals the bill would reduce the deficit by $133 billion, but leave millions of people without health insurance.
Since Republicans failed to pass repeal legislation by the September 30 deadline, the Affordable Care Act will be the law for the foreseeable future. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) states: "We haven't given up changing the American health care system."
Congress attempts to address children's health care and insurance stabilization
Discussions to stabilize insurance markets have resumed after the failure of the Graham-Cassidy bill.
While Congress is working to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act, President Trump announced that he plans to sign an executive order next week that will rescind some of the health insurance regulations put in place by President Obama.
In addition to addressing insurance markets, Congress needs to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired on September 30. States still have enough money to operate until at least December. However, both the Senate and the House are having trouble reaching an agreement to reauthorize the program.
In the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill to reauthorize CHIP and community health centers without bipartisan support.
In the Senate, the Finance Committee passed a bipartisan CHIP reauthorization bill. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) then suggested that the CHIP reauthorization bill and efforts to stabilize the insurance market be included in one bill. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) disagrees and believes CHIP reauthorization should be passed on its own.
Why is this important?
The CHIP program provides health insurance to nine million children whose parents earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. It is important to ensure these children continue to have access to preventive oral health care. Use Engage to reach out to your lawmakers and urge them to reauthorize the program.
Senate introduces the SUCCEED Act
What's the issue?
As discussed in the last issue of the Advocacy Brief, President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and gave Congress six months to pass legislation before he stops renewing permits. DACA allows individuals who were brought into the country illegally as children to defer deportation.
On September 25, Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced the SUCCEED Act. The bill would cancel the removal of certain individuals that entered the country illegally as children. It is a more conservative approach to granting citizenship. To be eligible, applicants must:
- Pass a criminal background check
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
- Have been in the U.S. since 2012
- Entered the U.S. before the age of 16
Under the bill, eligible individuals would have "conditional permanent residence" for ten years before they can apply for a green card.
On October 8, the Trump administration announced new immigration policy stipulations. These include building a wall along the southern border, reforming the asylum system and harsher penalties for unaccompanied minors who arrive at the border. President Trump shared that these stipulations would need to be included in any legislation addressing the DACA program.
Why is this important?