It has been a relatively quiet week on Capitol Hill regarding healthcare policy, as we wait for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to send a number of bills targeting health law provisions to the floor next week, including the NAHU-advocated legislation to restore the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period (OEP) and create a value-based design demonstration project in Medicare Advantage.
On the Senate side, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) attempted to keep things interesting by releasing the language for his post-King transition plan this past Tuesday. Ultimately, the legislation would allow states to use the federal funding currently set aside for federally facilitated marketplace (FFM) subsidies to set up default catastrophic health plans for residents. Senator Cassidy already has some heavyweight co-sponsors signed on, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), but conceded that this bill language will not move untouched as it is a reconciliation plan should the Supreme Court rule in favor of King.
Staying on the subject of the King case, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell had a lot to say to the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday about Senator Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) Preserving Freedom and Choice in Health Care Act (S. 1016). The legislation was introduced in April and would allow people in the FFM to keep their subsidies until August 2017 if the Supreme Court ruled against the Administration. However, Secretary Burwell stated that President Obama would not sign such a bill into law, as it repeals important parts of the PPACA, such as guaranteed insurance for Americans with pre-existing health conditions. Senator Johnson did not take that snub lying down and later criticized Secretary Burwell for not understanding the details of the bill. Washington will continue to heat up (both literally and figuratively…it’s 91 degrees today!) in the lead up to the Supreme Court’s decision. We will continue to update you on all of the developments, and eventually the decision, as soon as they are made.