Washington, DC Update

Posted 12 October 2017

On September 13, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced another effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which would have included eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. PPHF provides vital resources to the CDC, providing about 12 percent of its budget to help prevent emerging infectious diseases and other emergencies. The bill did not garner enough Senate Republican support and on September 26, Senate Republican leadership pulled the plug on this latest iteration of repeal and replace. 

As noted in the previous newsletter, Congress is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) through December 8. The House has passed all of its appropriations bills. The Senate has not considered all of its versions of the appropriations bills and has indicated they will not take up any additional individual measures.  

The House and Senate must now negotiate differences in their versions of these bills that fund the government agencies in the hope of an omnibus bill that will contain all of the individual bills.  It is looking increasingly unlikely that this will be accomplished by December 8, so we are looking at another possible CR to fund the government through the end of December, or later. 

As you are probably aware, Tom Price, MD, resigned as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary on September 29 after it was revealed that the White House had approved more than $1 million in private charter and military aircraft travel for Dr. Price over a four-month period. President Trump appointed Deputy Secretary of HSS Eric Hargan as Acting Secretary. Hargan served as Deputy General Counsel of HHS in the George W. Bush administration, eventually rising to Principal Associate Deputy Secretary and later Acting Deputy Secretary.