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Americans signed up for health plans through the Affordable Care Act at a brisk pace for a second straight week. Americans enrolled in almost 1.5 million Affordable Care Act health plans on healthcare.gov in the first 11 days of the open enrollment period, a 47 percent increase over a similar period last year.

Congress has approved temporary funding for the federal government through December 22nd, giving Republicans and Democrats time to reach a deal on federal spending for the rest of fiscal year 2018. Those negotiations, and melding the House and Senate tax overhaul bills, will consume the two weeks before Christmas.

Medical Device Tax - End of Year Package

This week Congress will pass a two-week extension of funding authority for the federal government known as a continuing resolution.  It will set up an end of the year logjam of legislation that will need to be concluded by December 22nd.  It is not clear yet whether the medical device excise tax could be addressed in this package but DTA will continue to press for this to be addressed before the moratorium on the tax expires.

Tax Reform Bill Goes to Conference

A bipartisan deal to prop up Obamacare exchanges got a lukewarm response from the White House, but opposition from House and Senate conservatives.

Recently, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee each held a markup of legislation to address reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

CHIP covers nearly 9 million children whose families make more than Medicaid eligibility allows but can't afford private health insurance. Without renewed funding, states will begin exhausting their funds by December, with most running out by March. States and children's advocates have been urging Congress to act quickly or risk having programs prepare to close.

Recently, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Eric Hargan and Medicare Administrator Seema Verma, stated that payments to insurance companies for the cost-sharing reduction subsidies (CSR) will be halted immediately. These crucial subsidies are a key component of the Affordable Care Act that assist lower-income enrollees in paying for health care coverage by lowering co-pays and deductibles. Specifically, the CSRs lower out-of-pocket costs, based on income, for silver plans purchased on the health insurance marketplace.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Oct. 12 directing federal agencies to pursue sweeping regulatory changes to the healthcare system, the administration’s first move in what it promises will be an extended campaign to weaken the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without Congress.

On Sept. 27, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Action for Dental Health Act of 2017 (H.R.2422), authored by Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL).  The legislation reauthorizes the oral health promotion and disease prevention programs at the CDC and permits the Centers to award grants or enter into contracts with stakeholders to develop projects to improve oral health education and dental disease prevention.

President Donald Trump and Republican leaders launched an urgent effort to get a major legislative win this year, announcing a long-awaited tax plan that will immediately set off a fight over how much top earners should pay.

The framework proposes cutting the top individual rate to 35 percent, but leaves it up to Congress to decide whether to create a higher bracket for those at the top of the income scale.

An effort by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to revive reform legislation that had failed in late July ultimately went down without even a vote on the Senate floor last week. Several Republican senators objected to the legislation for a wide range of reasons. The Senate GOP remains deeply split, bracketed by rock-ribbed conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and independent-minded moderates like Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

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