Healthcare Reform Talks Continue in Senate

As we have reported, the Republicans’ American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed the House of Representatives two weeks ago and is now in the hands of the Senate, where reworking of the bill is in early stages.

Earlier this week, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) organized a meeting of fellow Senators from both parties to discuss ideas for a possible bipartisan way forward on healthcare reform legislation. The group included at least six Republicans and three Democrats and plans to meet again, according to Sen. Cassidy. Though some in the group are optimistic about a bipartisan approach, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he will not vote for any legislation that repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), reported that the Senate Budget Committee will draft legislation to repeal and replace the ACA, and that it will spearheaded by Republicans since Democrats, such as Sen. Manchin, want nothing to do with dismantling the 2010 law. Sen. Alexander also said that Republicans will seek input on their bill from both the Senate HELP and Finance Committees.

ASCRS, in conjunction with the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, was contacted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and asked to provide comments and recommendations related to the committee’s effort to produce patient-focused healthcare legislation. The Alliance is in the process of drafting a response that aligns with our priorities.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s select working group on healthcare reform, comprising Senators appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has focused its meetings this week on stabilizing the individual marketplace. According to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), the group is considering different scenarios, including a separate market stabilization bill and the inclusion of such a bill in one large health reform package to repeal and replace the ACA.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score on the cost of the House bill is expected to be released next week.

We will keep you updated.