Last week, the House passed the “Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017” (H.R. 732), the “Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act” (H.R. 1698), the “Sunshine for Regulations and Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2017” (H.R. 469), and the Senate-passed Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 71). House passage of the budget resolution now allows Congress to debate and vote on tax reform legislation using expedited procedures. The Senate’s work last week included passage of: the “Energy Conservation Standards for External Power Supplies Act” (S. 266); the “Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2017” (H.R. 304); a resolution to repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rule (H.J.Res. 111); and the “Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017” (H.R 2266).
This week, the House is scheduled to debate the “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017” (H.R. 2936), and the “Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2017” (H.R. 849). The Senate began the week by considering federal judicial nominations.
On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to release the text of tax reform legislation that it plans to vote on next week. The bill will be based on the “framework”, which was released in September and describes the basic elements of tax reform legislation, including reductions in individual and corporate tax rates, as well as repeal of the estate tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax. Key corporate tax provisions, as described in the framework, include:
- Rates: A reduction of the corporate tax rate to 20% from the current 35%.
- Deductibility of Interest: “[T]he deduction for net interest expense incurred by C corporations will be partially limited.”
- Expensing: “[A]llows businesses to immediately write off (or ‘expense’) the cost of new investments in depreciable assets other than structures made after September 27, 2017, for at least five years.”
Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act
On October 24, the Senate approved the “Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2017” (H.R. 304). Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced the bill in January, and the House of Representatives passed it on January 9th. As described in a summary of the House-passed bill, it would:
- “[D]irect the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to register an emergency medical services (EMS) agency to administer controlled substances if the agency submits an application demonstrating that it is authorized to conduct such activity in the state in which the agency practices”;
- Allow “[a]n EMS agency to obtain a single registration in each state instead of a separate registration for each location”; and
- Authorize registered EMS agencies to “deliver, store, and receive controlled substances, subject to specified conditions.”
The Senate amended the House-passed bill, which will require the House to either approve the Senate-passed bill, or otherwise negotiate a final version with the Senate to send to the President.
Presidential Memorandum on Drone Pilot Program
On October 25, President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum titled “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program” which requires the Secretary of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) “Integration Pilot Program (Program) to test the further integration of UAS into the national airspace system (NAS) in a select number of State, local, and tribal jurisdictions.” The Program terminates after three years, and is intended to:
- “test and evaluate various models of State, local, and tribal government involvement in the development and enforcement of Federal regulations for UAS operations;”
- “encourage UAS owners and operators to develop and safely test new and innovative UAS concepts of operations; and”
- “inform the development of future Federal guidelines and regulatory decisions on UAS operations nationwide.”
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), Kenny Marchant (R-TX), Terri Sewell (D-AL), and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) have also cosponsored the bill.
H.R. 3378 would reform the Medicare fee schedule for air ambulance services, starting with a cost reporting and analysis program conducted by CMS, followed by: rebasing of air medical reimbursements in 2021; and implementation of a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program beginning in 2024. The bill would increase transparency and quality by establishing cost and quality reporting requirements, as well as solve for a growing gap between Medicare payments and costs.
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:
- AAMS background on the legislation and the need to reform outdated Medicare rates.
- Cosponsors of H.R. 3378.