Update on ACA Status
Congress is headed for a showdown on whether to insert several pressing health measures in year-end bills. The looming health-care issues include:
– Funding for a children’s health program
– Possible delay of certain taxes by the ACA
– A bipartisan plan to bolster fragile insurance markets
It isn’t yet clear which of the bill’s measures will pass. There is turbulence right now on coming to an agreement in the short time remaining to come to passing a law in 2017.
Backers of the health-care measures want this policy included in the final 2018 budget deal. The struggle to resolve an array of health-care issues are being debated.
The bipartisan plan to bolster insurance markets, for example, would come too late to reduce premiums next year as originally intended. And Congress’s inability to reauthorize money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, puts enormous pressure on states (funding for the program expired Sept. 30th and many states are close to exhausting their reserves).
The CHIP program covers more than eight million low-income children. Conservatives are reluctant to renew the funding without making offsetting cuts elsewhere, while the program’s supporters say that similar offsets aren’t being demanded for other spending measures or for tax cuts.
Everyone involved say the CHIP program matter is urgent.
Lawmakers are close to agreeing on some issues, including a desire to further delay particular ACA taxes. A sales tax on health insurance that largely hits small and midsize businesses has been suspended for this year, for example, but it is scheduled to return in 2018.
The notion of embedding a few modest health-care measures in a year-end package is a far cry from rolling back the ACA and replacing it with a more conservative national health-care arrangement. But repealing the ACA remains much harder and undecided late in 2017.