Congressional legislative agenda dominated by the intermix of health care and tax issues

Health care and tax issues are at the top of the US legislative and regulatory agendas in 2017, as Republican majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate work on legislation to repeal and replace key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to reform the tax code for both businesses and individuals. Republicans are using the budget reconciliation process to advance health care to make it easier to bring the legislation up for a vote in the Senate so long as certain conditions are met. They are expected to use a similar process for tax reform. Specifically, all provisions of legislation considered under budget reconciliation must be related to the federal budget deficit, taxes, mandatory spending programs (like Medicare or Medicaid but not Social Security, which is exempt from reforms under budget reconciliation) or the federal debt limit. Provided these and a few other conditions are met and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) does not project that the bill will increase the federal budget deficit outside the operable budget window, the Senate can bring up legislation for a vote and pass it with a simple majority of 51 votes.

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Major health care regulatory activity still to come under the Obama Administration

As many in the US prepare to shift their attention to the upcoming presidential debates and the final weeks of the campaign, the Obama Administration is poised to release some far-reaching regulations, which will have a significant effect on the health care marketplace, including a final rule on the new Medicare payment law and some changes intended to help shore up the health insurance Exchanges established under President Obama’s signature health care law.

Highlights of some of the most significant regulatory actions still to come in the final months of the Obama Administration are provided below.

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New budget agreement includes health care policy changes, but generally shifts attention to regulatory activity through 2016 elections

Posted by Anne Phelps, on November 2, 2015.

President Obama on Monday, November 2, 2015 signed into law a two-year budget deal that sets federal spending levels through September 2017 and suspends the federal debt limit until March 2017. The House and Senate passed the bill last week. The legislation generally clears the decks of any must-pass legislation until after the 2016 elections, shifting the life sciences and health care sectors’ focus in Washington largely to regulatory activity on issues such as the 340B drug discount program, the new Medicare payment law (MACRA), and the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage.

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