Advocacy Alert: Notice About Legislative Changes

Posted Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016

As the dust settles on last week’s election, many people have been wondering what challenges and opportunities the adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) community will exist with the new Trump administration and new Congress next year. Here’s what we know so far:

President-Elect Trump has pledged to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but it is not clear how this might be achieved. Trump has indicated support for allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines and the importation of drugs to lower drug costs. He has also supported changing Medicaid to give states a set sum of money and more flexibility about how to administer their program.

Any ACA policy changes will require cooperation and action by Congress, which in 2017 will look much like it did this year. As of today, the House will be comprised of 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats and the Senate will have 51 Republicans and 48 Democrats (the Louisiana Senate race is still not settled). The close margin in the Senate means that legislation will have to be bipartisan and have the support of 60 Senators to overcome a filibuster. We anticipate that Congress may use a process called “budget reconciliation” to repeal parts of the law without threat of a Senate filibuster; Congress passed a repeal package using this mechanism in 2015 that was vetoed by President Obama.

This all means that a wholesale repeal of every provision of the ACA is very unlikely, though significant changes will be considered. The patient protections included in the ACA such as the prohibition of pre-existing conditions exclusions and policies that enable young adults to stay on their parents’ plans are likely to stand, since they have support from Congress and President-Elect Trump. But given the ways in which current policies that facilitate narrow networks and high out-of-pocket costs are very problematic for our patient community, there are opportunities with reform as well.

The most important thing to remember is that the congenital heart disease (CHD) community has champions on both sides of the aisle. We will work with the new Administration and new Congress to advocate for greater awareness and support for ACHD funding, surveillance, programs and policies. With many new faces in Washington, it is more important than ever that you join the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) in advocacy on behalf of the community. From traveling to Washington to participate in the CHD Legislative Conference this March to phone calls, emails you can send from home, and meeting with members and their staff in the district, we will need your help!  Please stay tuned for more information for how you can get involved.

If you have any questions, please contact Danielle Hile, ACHA’s Director of Programs at dhile@achaheart.org.

 

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