Health Reform WK-EDGE Congress running out of time to change ACA through reconciliation
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Friday, September 8, 2017

Congress running out of time to change ACA through reconciliation

By Kathryn S. Beard, J.D.

When the fiscal year ends on September 30, 2017, the opportunity for the Senate to alter the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) using the budget reconciliation process ends as well. According to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), the Senate Parliamentarian determined that the concurrent resolution allowing changes to the ACA (P.L. 111-148) through reconciliation, which requires a bare majority in the Senate rather than 60 votes and is not subject to filibuster, will expire at the end of the fiscal year. Sanders made the announcement through his role as the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee.

S. Con. Res. 3, agreed to by both Houses on January 13, set forth the framework for congressional consideration of revenue, spending, and other budget-related legislation. It included authorization to change the ACA through reconciliation. However, the parliamentarian, who advises the Senate on the interpretation of rules and procedures, determined that the continuing resolution has an expiration date.

The parliamentarian weighed in a few times during the Senate’s consideration of H.R. 1628, a bill to repeal portions of the ACA and make substantial changes to the Medicaid program. For example, the House’s bill would have excluded Planned Parenthood Federation of America from receiving federal reimbursement for services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries; the parliamentarian ruled that the provision could not be included via reconciliation (see Senate urged not to proceed with BCRA by civil and human rights groups, July 26, 2017). Sen. Sanders reported that the parliamentarian found other provisions similarly impermissible.

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