Overview

Last week, the House passed: the “Increasing Opportunity and Success for Children and Parents through Evidence-Based Home Visiting Act” (H.R. 2824); and the “Control Unlawful Fugitive Felons Act of 2017” (H.R. 2792). The Senate voted to: confirm William Emanuel to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); pass the “Hurricane Relief Act” (S. 1866); and pass the “Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improved Chronic Care Act of 2017” (S. 870).

The House and Senate both passed the “Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017” (H.R. 3823).

This week the House is slated to consider the Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 71), which would set the stage for congressional consideration of tax reform legislation. The Senate resumed consideration of the nomination of Ajit Pai for a five-year term on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Health Care

Last week Senate Republicans had hoped to vote on a final attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Graham-Cassidy proposal sought to eliminate the inequality in federal funding states receive under the ACA and bring all states to funding parity by 2026. The proposal would have attempted to equalize treatment between Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states through an equitable block grant distribution.

Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) had said they would not vote for the bill the previous week. Following the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score which found millions would lose insurance and there would be reduced federal funding for Medicaid, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) became the third firm “no” vote effectively killing the measure. Senate Republicans decided to not hold a vote leaving no other options to repeal the ACA before the expedited process provided for under “reconciliation” expired on September 30.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) resumed their bipartisan negotiations to stabilize the individual health insurance market. Alexander said “it’s a matter of whether we can find consensus among Republicans and Democrats that we believe can be enacted into a result.”

FAA Reauthorization

On September 28, the House of Representatives passed the “Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017” (H.R. 3823) by a 264-155 vote. The Senate passed the bill by voice vote with an amendment stripping out provisions related to flood insurance. The House then passed the amended bill by voice vote, sending it to the President for his signature. The final bill includes a six-month extension (through March 31, 2018) of the authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration and federal aviation programs, as well as: an extension of some health care measures; and targeted tax relief for individuals affected by the recent hurricanes. The prior FAA authorization, enacted as the ‘‘FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016” (P.L. 114-190), expired on September 30.

Member Reminder

On July 25, Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced the “Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act of 2017” (H.R. 3378). Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK), Jason Smith (R-MO),  Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), David Loebsack (D-IA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), and Kenny Marchant (R-TX) have also cosponsored the bill.

This legislation would reform the Medicare fee schedule for air ambulance services, starting with temporary, noncumulative payment increases to providers (12% in 2018, 20% in 2019, and 20% in 2020), followed by: rebasing of air medical reimbursements in 2021; and implementation of a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program beginning in 2024. The bill would also establish cost and quality reporting requirements.

AAMS fully supports this legislation, and encourages members to contact their Members of Congress to ask them to cosponsor H.R. 3378. The House of Representatives provides a tool for identifying your Member of Congress by zip code.

More Information on H.R. 3378: