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ACA Watch 2017: What's the Prognosis of the American Health Care Act?

With the House’s passage of H.R.1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the first hurdle is complete. However, for AHCA to become law, the Senate would need to pass the same version of the bill, i.e. no changes, and the President would need to sign the law. So, where are we?

Since the passage of the AHCA in the House, formal introduction into the Senate has been on hold. Before an introduction takes place, the Senate Parliamentarian must review all the provisions of the bill to ensure they meet the requirements of budget reconciliation (the action allowing a simple Senate majority to pass a bill rather than the standard 2/3 majority). Any extraneous provisions face elimination from the bill, which could significantly alter its popularity or economic effect.

The results of the Senate Parliamentarian’s review, completed Tuesday, June 6th, find that the bill is acceptable and no provisions need removal. Coupling this approval with the newest score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which confirms that the bill meets the reconciliation budgetary requirements, the bill now moves forward.

Right now, Senate members are drafting an alternative bill to the AHCA. Their goal is to create more generous outcomes, like longer timelines funding Medicaid and higher tax credits to help cover the cost of health care premiums. The trade-off may be that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes will need to remain a little longer to fund these initiatives.

Any new bill by the Senate will require a savings of at least $133 billion, matching the CBO’s evaluation of savings for the House’s AHCA bill. The House will also have to approve the bill.

Despite Senate members’ many polar views of what to do about healthcare, the ACA, and the AHCA, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a resolution by the end of June with a vote before the summer recess, which is scheduled to start July 31.

So, while the “patient” is still alive, it’s still too early to project an accurate prognosis. Let’s just say that the treatment plan will be aggressive.

We have updated our House Proposed Legislative Timeline to follow along with the course of the bill—and as always head over to our ACA Watch page as we will notify you of new developments as they transpire.