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What’s Next for the ACA?

After spending months crafting legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in late July, the U.S. Senate had its chance to vote on and pass repeal legislation. However, the legislating body could not garner enough support to pass any of the bills presented. These bills included a piece of legislation from 2015, that would repeal but not replace the ACA; the Better Care Reconciliation Act, a bill the Senate had been working on for two months; and finally, what was being called the “skinny repeal bill,” which would have rolled back several key provisions of the ACA. Three Republican Senators, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and John McCain, joined Democrats to vote against this final measure.

ASH had expressed concern with the various Senate proposals and the ACA repeal bill that passed the House in early May, noting that the proposals would reduce overall access to coverage and treatment and would negatively impact patients with hematologic diseases and disorders. ASH was also concerned about the bills’ proposed elimination of the Public Health and Prevention Fund which has supported many critical projects at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including investments in immunizations and health-care associated infections. Currently, the Fund comprises approximately 12 percent of CDC’s budget and should be preserved.

Insurance companies must set final plans and premiums by late September even as the Administration continues to threaten to end the cost sharing reductions which allows insurance companies to provide subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays for low-income people. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold bipartisan hearings on ways to stabilize the ACA marketplaces for 2018 throughout the first two weeks of September. ASH will continue to monitor this process and will send updates as necessary.