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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.

We welcome autumn in the usual fashion–waiting on Congress to act on a number of important issues. We’ve all watched as the high-level issues such as health care repeal and reform as well as tax reform top the headlines, but there are other key issues that demand their attention before the end of 2017.

As the tax reform debate approaches, DTA is highlighting the issues being considered, along with the views on the subject of tax reform, as the implications of its enactment are immense for businesses in the U.S. DTA will continue to push for inclusion of repeal of the excise tax on medical devices as part of tax reform.

House Tax Priorities

The House Ways and Means Committee has announced its priorities for tax reform. They include:

  • Lowering taxes at every income level.
  • Delivering the lowest tax rates for job creators of all sizes so they can invest more money in growing their businesses and creating jobs.
  • Eliminating the maze of special interest loopholes that keep rates artificially high.
  • Increasing the standard deduction.
  • Separating wage income from small business income.
  • Ending the estate tax (a.k.a. Death Tax) so family-owned farms and businesses can be passed down to the next generation.
  • Repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • Cutting in half the tax rates on personal savings and investment.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has set a series of hearings to gather input from state insurance commissioners and governors, according to a joint statement from Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The schedule for the hearings is as follows.

Sept. 6: Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual Insurance Market for 2018: Testimony from State Insurance Commissioners

Sept. 7: Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual Insurance Market for 2018: Testimony from Governors

House Republican leaders told lawmakers to expect a full September, beginning with action on an eight-bill appropriations omnibus to fund the government and a fiscal 2018 budget aimed at laying the groundwork for a tax code overhaul.

The schedule, laid out by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), calls for lawmakers to begin appropriations work shortly after returning Sept. 5. Floor action on the budget is expected to follow shortly afterward, possibly as soon as the week of Sept. 11. Also on tap in September will be a measure to raise the federal debt limit.

The ambitious September schedule reflects how little time lawmakers have to fund the government, raise the debt limit, and prevent twin fiscal crises when they return from recess. Government funds run out Sept. 30. The debt ceiling also is expected to be addressed around the same time.