Without the votes to pass legislation in the U.S. Senate and Congress adjourned for August, the future of health care reform is uncertain. But on Monday, the Society urged Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation to consider a new approach to health care reform legislation, and to also act on other critical health care programs set to expire by September 30.
“The Society believes it is essential that our citizens have affordable, high-quality health care coverage, and that any next steps on health care reform legislation be bipartisan, transparent and patient-centered,” said Society President Noel Deep, MD, in this press release. “Wisconsin physicians welcome the opportunity to share their front-line perspective with our delegation and do what is in the best interests of our patients.”
As the White House, Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services evaluate next steps, it seems clear that agreeing on and implementing changes won’t be easy or quick. But with the federal fiscal year ending September 30 and the upcoming open enrollment period beginning November 1, the following issues will require immediate attention when Congress return to Washington, D.C., next month.
- Funding for Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments to insurers participating in the Marketplace through 2019. This is a critical tool to assist patient’s ability to afford their coverage.
- Reauthorization and full funding of safety net programs such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and funding for federally qualified health centers.
- Reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration drug and medical device user fee legislation. This bill, which recently was approved by the House, will help speed up the drug approval process.
- Reauthorization of the “Medicare Extenders” established in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). Multiple technical issues must be addressed to avoid disruption in Medicare payments to physicians.
Meanwhile, although Congress is expected to focus increasingly on other outstanding issues such as tax reform, the debt ceiling and annual spending, health care reform efforts continue. It is reported that Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has said his committee will hold hearings starting Sept. 4 “so that Americans will be able to buy affordable health insurance.”
Back to August 3, 2017 Medigram