Disability Policy News In Brief

July 31, 2017

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July 31, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 133
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Health Care

A bipartisan majority of Senators rejected efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act early Friday morning. Every Democrat joined with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and John McCain (R-Ariz.) to vote against the bill. The bill under consideration (dubbed "skinny bill) would have resulted in millions of people losing health coverage and it would have raised premium for millions more.  The bill failed because people stood up and demanded their members of Congress protect their health care.

While the Administration continues to threaten to weaken the law using regulatory and enforcement powers, the latest Kaiser tracking poll showed that seven in ten Americans (71 percent) want Republicans in Congress to work with Democrats to make improvements to the ACA not repeal the law.  

Some Members of Congress are also beginning to pivot to making bipartisan changes to address issues that need to be strengthened. Politico reports that a group of 40 bipartisan members of the House have been working on legislative efforts to stabilize the ACA markets.  The so-called Problem Solvers caucus, led by Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), is focusing on immediately stabilizing the insurance market and then pushing for changes to the ACA that have received bipartisan backing in the past. The Commonwealth Fund posted an article on Friday outlining ideas for Congress to consider as they work to stabilize the marketplaces.

Also, today, Health Committee Chairman Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) announced hearings in September on ways to help stabilize the individual health care plan markets, with testimony from state insurance commissioners, patients, governors, experts and insurance companies. Sen. Alexander also publicly urged the President to continue to pay the subsidies to help low-income insurance buyers pay their deductibles and co-payments at least through September and then Congress should appropriate funding for at least one year.


Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced last week that Congress must pass a resolution lifting the debt ceiling as soon as possible, stating that the Department will have exhausted "extraordinary measures" to extend the debt ceiling by September 29. However, so far, no deal has been reached and Members of the House and Senate are leaving for August recess returning on September 5. A debt limit increase could be attached to an appropriations package or budget deal (see below).


It almost certain that Congress will not be able to agree on a full fiscal 2018 spending omnibus bill before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.  This means Congress must pass a continuing resolution to keep programs operating while they come to agreement on appropriations bills.  If that happens, Congress could end up negotiating a bipartisan budget deal to raise the discretionary spending caps. Congress may try to offset any the discretionary spending increases with changes to mandatory spending programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare. AUCD will be watching this process closely.


The Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today approved several nominees with jurisdiction over health and long term services including Lance Robertson as Assistant Secretary for Aging; Elinore McCance-Katz to be Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use; and Jerome Adams to be Surgeon General of the Public Health Service.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, today Liz interviewed Rebecca Vallas, who is the managing director at the Center for American Progress about the Presidents' budget and the implications of budget cuts on people with disabilities.   To celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Liz interviewed Mark Johnson, one of the leaders of ADAPT, about the history and the future of the ADA and the potential cuts to Medicaid

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For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms 

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