Affordable Care Act Updates

One of the first major actions of the 115th Congress was starting the process for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through budget reconciliation. The budget resolution set a date of January 27 for committees to submit their recommendations.  None of the four committees tasked with drafting reconciliation bills made that deadline. (Lawmakers previously described the deadline as more of a placeholder and expected it to slip.)

Reconciliation is not the usual way Congress passes legislation. Instead, it’s a three-step process that begins with a budget resolution. Why is it being used for this? Well, legislation passed through this process cannot be filibustered, meaning the Senate only needs 51 votes to pass the reconciliation bill. Now would be a really good time to learn about the federal budget process, specifically reconciliation. This graphic from Roll Call demonstrates how the process will be used in this case.

So mark your calendars with a new deadline — House Ways and Means and House Energy and Commerce are expected to report legislation in mid to late February, as confirmed by interim House Budget Chair Diane Black. It is unclear when Senate Finance and Senate HELP will report legislation.

So there’s still a long ways to go in this process, but this week did include the first two ACA replacement bills.

Sens. Bill Cassidy [R, LA] and Susan Collins [R, ME] introduced the first Senate replacement plan for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposal would let states choose whether to remain in Obamacare exchanges or opt into a new system with similar consumer protections and fewer regulations. The proposal would maintain many of the ACA’s revenue streams, including the Cadillac tax and the health insurance tax.

Later in the week, Sen. Rand Paul [R, KY] introduced another replacement plan — one that eliminates the baseline regulations established by the Affordable Care Act for minimum requirements of insurers, as well as individual and employer mandates. Paul’s plan includes a $5,000 tax credit per individual that could be spent on premiums or deposited in a health savings account. Senator Paul was the only Republican senator to vote against the budget resolution that includes instructions to repeal Obamacare — refusing to vote for repeal until lawmakers decided on a replacement. Catch up on the budget resolution process here.

Keep an eye out next week for the first Senate committee hearing this Congress related to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

POPVOX Rand Paul Obamacare Replacement Act S. 222POPVOX Bill Cassidy Patient Freedom Act S. 191









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