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Senate Leaders Fail to Secure Health Reforms Again

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.

The Graham-Cassidy proposal would have turned Affordable Care Act funds into block grants for the states and cut Medicaid funds to states that expanded the program under the ACA. It would have left most of the ACA taxes in place.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) continue to work toward a bipartisan agreement that would stabilize premiums in the individual insurance market. Reports are they are near agreement but convincing Senate leadership to take up the measure may prove difficult.

What is interesting about this recent debate for dental and medical device manufacturers is that while many of the ACA taxes would have been left in place to fund a block grant to the states, the device tax would have been repealed. This bodes well for the device tax and the Congress now turns to tax reform efforts. DTA will continue to push for the device tax to be addressed before it expires at the end of the year.

By Patrick Cooney, The Federal Group, Inc.
Legislative Representative, Dental Trade Alliance