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Congress Faces Sept. 30th Deadline to Pass Health Reform

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Michael Petruzzelli

Manager, Policy and Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Congress Faces Sept. 30th Deadline to Pass Health Reform

September 7, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments
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The Senate Parliamentarian ruled last week that the special budgeting rules under which Congress has tried to pass health care legislation will expire at the end of the fiscal year, September 30. This is the latest win for advocates working to protect the Affordable Care Act and preserve Medicaid as it currently exists. President Trump, with Congress back in session this week, is reportedly urging one more try at passing health care legislation.

At the start of the 115th Congress, GOP leaders on Capitol Hill kicked off a special budgeting process – called budget reconciliation – that allowed for the approval of major legislation with a simple majority in both chambers, bypassing the possibility of a Senate filibuster. These efforts culminated with a midnight vote in the Senate that saw Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and John McCain (R-AZ) voting against the last Republican measure, effectively ending – for the time being – efforts to reform health care and gut and cut Medicaid in America.

Last week, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the budget reconciliation process for 2017 expires at the end of the month, effectively setting a Sept. 30 deadline for Congress to pass health care legislation. Whether lawmakers would have the votes to do so is uncertain amid a packed legislative calendar. As Congress returns to session this week, the agenda is full of “must pass” legislation including: raising the debt ceiling, appropriations to fund the federal government, approving legislation to stabilize the individual insurance market, passing a Hurricane Harvey relief package, and reauthorizing key programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Programs. However, if Congress fails to enact health care legislation before the end of the month, they could still return to the issue by enacting new budget reconciliation instructions in fiscal year 2018.

The National Council will continue to keep advocates updated on the latest news and will alert its readers should constituent advocacy be needed.

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