Senate Fails to Pass ACA Repeal and Replace Legislation: What’s Next?
Early in the morning of July 28th, three Republican Senators joined with all 48 Democrats to defeat the GOP leadership’s “skinny repeal” bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate and removed penalties under the employer mandate for eight years, while delaying the medical device tax until the end of 2020. Senators Collins (R-ME), Murkowski (R-AK) and McCain (R-AZ) voted against the bill and urged their colleagues to move forward in a bipartisan fashion to fix problematic areas of the ACA.
As August began, Democrats and Republicans started to embrace this approach with Senate HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announcing a series of committee hearings on healthcare reform for September that will feature testimony from state insurance commissioners, patients, governors, health care experts and insurance companies. On the House side, 43 lawmakers have come together as the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and have unveiled a proposal that they believe will “stabilize health insurance markets and provide relief to individuals, families and small businesses.”
The Problem Solvers Caucus plan would:
- Bring cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments under the Congressional oversight and appropriations process, while also ensuring mandatory funding for those payments
- Create a dedicated stability fund that states can use to reduce premiums and limit losses for providing coverage, particularly for those with pre-existing conditions
- Adjust the employer mandate by raising the threshold on the requirement for employers to provide insurance under the employer mandate to businesses of 500 employees or more and revising the definition of “full time” to indicate that a full-time work week is at least 40 hours
- Repeal the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices
- Provide technical changes and clear guidelines to sections 1332 and 1333 of the Affordable Care Act for states that want to innovate on the exchange or enter into regional compacts to improve coverage and create more options for consumers
Update on Treat and Reduce Obesity Act
Support continues to grow for S 830/HR 1953, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) of 2017, which was introduced by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) and Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Ron Kind (DWI), respectively. At the time of this report, the bill had 96 cosponsors in the House and 7 in the Senate.
This critical legislation will provide Medicare beneficiaries with additional treatment tools to help seniors address their overweight and obesity. Specifically, TROA will provide the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) with the authority to expand the Medicare benefit for intensive behavioral counseling by allowing additional types of healthcare providers to offer these services. The legislation would also allow CMS to expand Medicare Part D to provide coverage of FDA-approved prescription drugs for chronic weight management.
Update on National Obesity Care Week
OCC continues to urge legislators to support and cosponsor S. Res. 63/H. Res. 142, a congressional resolution, which would proclaim the week of October 29 through November 4, 2017, as National Obesity Care Week (NOCW). Efforts are also underway to secure resolutions in every state across the country to proclaim that week as “Obesity Care Week.”
OAC Invited to Participate in the National Academies’ Roundtable on Obesity Solutions
On July 31st, Obesity Action Coalition President Joe Nadglowski was invited to join the National Academies’ Roundtable on Obesity Solutions. Established in 2014, the Roundtable engages leadership from multiple sectors to solve the obesity crisis. Through meetings, public workshops, background papers, and innovation collaboratives, the Roundtable fosters an ongoing dialogue on critical and emerging issues in obesity prevention, treatment, and weight maintenance. The Roundtable provides a trusted venue for enhancing and accelerating discussion, development, and implementation of multi-sector collaborations, and policy, environmental, and behavioral initiatives that will increase physical activity; reduce sedentary behavior; and improve the healthfulness of foods and beverages consumed to reduce the prevalence and adverse consequences of obesity and eliminate obesity-related health disparities.
OCC Submits Comments for August 30th MEDCAC Meeting on Bariatric Therapies
On July 28, 2017, the Obesity Care Continuum (OCC) submitted comments in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the upcoming August 30th meeting of the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC). The MEDCAC panel will examine the scientific evidence for health outcomes resulting from bariatric therapies, including open and laparoscopic surgeries and endoscopic procedures, in the Medicare population with obesity. This meeting will also identify evidence gaps related to treatment of obesity and related co-morbidities with these interventions and discuss efforts aimed at patient-centered care.