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Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released its projection on the cost of reforming the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the House-passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).  CBO and JCT estimate that enacting that version of H.R. 1628 would reduce the cumulative federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $119 billion.

The Senate Finance Committee has approved bipartisan legislation (S.870) aimed at improving the management of chronic conditions in the Medicare program. According to the Committee’s Ranking Democratic Member Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), “more than 90 percent of the Medicare dollar goes toward seniors who have two or more chronic conditions.”  The bill includes a variety of provisions to help patients with chronic conditions including providing greater flexibility for accountable care organizations, enhanced telehealth services, and changes to how Medicare Advantage plans serve chronic needs.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus that helped derail the GOP’s effort last month to repeal Obamacare has formally endorsed a revised version of the American Health Care Act, potentiality giving it new life. It remains to be seen how moderate Republicans will view the compromise.

The new enthusiasm stems from an amendment, brokered by Congressman Thomas MacArthur (R-NJ-03). The compromise would allow states to opt out of federal insurance regulations requiring insurers to cover a list of "essential benefits" and not to charge different amounts to individuals of the same age.

The “Seniors Have Eyes, Ears and Teeth Act” (H.R. 508) would expand Medicare to give beneficiaries coverage for hearing services, dental care, vision exams and devices such as hearing aids and glasses. The bill, authored by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) on Jan. 12 already has 126 cosponsors in the House.

The White House released a proposal on Wednesday for what they called the "biggest tax cut" in U.S. history -- with cuts that would benefit businesses, the middle class, and certain high-earning individuals -- but left unanswered questions about whether the plan would be paid for, or how.

Just last week, 35 DTA members and staff spent a day on Capitol Hill visiting members of Congress to discuss repealing the Medical Device Tax and amending the Sunshine Act. The fact that oral health is critical to overall health was another important part of the message to lawmakers. It's crucial that all DTA members participate in our advocacy program. Even if you didn't attend our Washington day, you should contact your elected officials locally.

Healthcare has been at the top of the agenda for Congress over the past several months. As they prepare to leave for the April break no deal has been reached, but there is talk about returning early from the break to vote on a bill. While reform efforts have created headaches for many in the GOP it is essential they get this done as it will impact their plans for tax policy and infrastructure investments.

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing for Seema Verma's nomination to lead the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Feb. 16.  Verma, president, CEO and founder of consulting firm SVC Inc., is credited as the architect of Indiana's Medicaid expansion, which includes several conservative elements such as cost sharing.

Recently, President Donald Trump's nominee for Office of Management and Budget director, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), told senators at a hearing that he would support regulatory overhaul, including opening up the regulatory review process to greater scrutiny. The Trump Administration supports the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which has passed the House and is pending in the Senate, that would require congressional approval of all major regulations.