U.S. Senate Deliberates on Health-System Reform Legislation
The U.S. Senate will focus on the AHCA in the health care reform debate, probably for the next several months.
The Senate has begun deliberations on drafting health-system reform legislation that will comport with the procedural rules associated with budget reconciliation legislation. On May 24, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a revised score for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) (H.R. 1628). The CBO stated that the House-passed version of the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over 10 years and increase the number of uninsured people relative to current law by 23 million in 2026.
Under the budget rules, the Senate health care reform legislation will be required to save at least as much as the House measure. Now that the CBO has rescored the House-passed bill, the Senate parliamentarian will begin the process of examining H.R. 1628 to determine which provisions of the bill meet the requirements of the Senate budget-reconciliation rules. The rules generally require that provisions in the bill must have a direct effect on the federal budget. It is possible that some provisions of the House-passed version of the AHCA will be stripped away during this process before the bill is considered on the Senate floor.
Separately, on May 23, the AMA sent Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch a letter in response to his May 12 request for recommendations on health system reform. The letter restates the AMA's objectives for health reform legislation, such as ensuring that any proposals to replace portions of current law do not result in individuals who currently have coverage becoming uninsured. The letter makes specific suggestions to improve the health care system in the areas of tax-credit structure and health insurance affordability, stabilizing the individual market, and Medicaid.
It is not yet known when the Senate will consider its version of health care reform legislation. The AMA will continue to work with the Senate to advance proposals consistent with AMA policy and AMA health care reform objectives.