Dec 20, 2017

Senate unlikely to address health care in this week's spending bill

Sen. Lamar Alexander asked his bill not be added to this week's government funding bill. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

The Senate is unlikely to address outstanding health care issues in the government spending bill that must pass by Friday, according to three senior GOP aides and a Democratic leadership aide. That means that a long-term CHIP funding bill, delays of the Affordable Care Act taxes and individual market stabilization are unlikely to be addressed until the new year.

The bottom line: "Most chatter on CR is about it being a clean extension to January 19th," one of the GOP aides said. The Democratic aide said that it's "very unlikely" that any of the health care items will get put into the bill. However, it's almost certain that Congress will pass a short-term measure to address CHIP funding over the next few weeks.

  • Sens. Lamar Alexander and Susan Collins put out this statement a few minutes ago, citing the short-term nature of this week's spending bill: "We have asked Senator McConnell not to offer this week our legislation ... Instead, we will offer it after the first of the year when the Senate will consider the omnibus spending bill, the Children's Health Insurance Program reauthorization, funding for Community Health Centers, and other legislation that was to have been enacted this week."

Why this matters: We're probably going to have this fight again in a few weeks. There's no rush on passing the Alexander-Murray marketplace stabilization bill or a reinsurance program, so this could still pass with no policy consequences. But CHIP is running out of money, despite the short-term measures Congress keeps adding to its funding bills. And the health care industry is getting really nervous about their tax delays not happening.

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