Federal Update

September Will Be a Busy Month in Washington

The federal fiscal year runs October 1 – September 30, so September is a busy month with a hard deadline at the end. This year, Congress still needs to pass a budget or otherwise fund the government, address the debt ceiling, reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and extend a variety of laws set to expire at the end of the month, including rural hospital low volume adjustments. The congressional calendar shows there are twelve legislative days in which Congress can act on these items before the 2018 fiscal year begins.

CHIP reauthorization is extremely important for the hospital industry as it covers most children in South Carolina and nationwide. The legislation to reauthorize the program may become a vehicle for other healthcare issues too. One such issue is the disproportionate share hospital payments, which are scheduled to be reduced beginning October 1. Another big healthcare issue to watch in September is the determination of cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) to insurance companies offering plans on the ACA exchange. 

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, respectively, announced they would hold hearings in early September on ideas for stabilizing the healthcare marketplace. One scheduled hearing will host governors of both parties and a second will host state directors of insurance. 

The effort to repeal the ACA has slowed after a difficult few days in the Senate which culminated in a failed vote on the ‘skinny repeal’ bill, but it is far from over. South Carolina's Senator Lindsey Graham has offered a proposal Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) that they hope to discuss in September. Several governors continue to discuss plans to reform healthcare as well. As discussions continue, we will closely monitor proposals and analyze the impact on hospitals and patients in South Carolina.

Stay tuned for more information – September will be a wild month in Washington!