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NLN Capitol Connection - October 2017

10/02/2017
Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act
October 3, 2017

House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Nursing Programs
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on September 14 to examine HRSA’s Title VII and VIII health care and nursing workforce programs, the National Health Service Corps, and other health workforce programs, as well as legislative proposals that would reauthorize them. The NLN-supported bill, HR 959, the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2017, was one of the bills the hearing examined.

Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess (R-TX) highlighted the importance of the Title VII and VIII continuing education components as well as the importance of reauthorizing these programs. Ask your Representative and your Senators to support the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2017.

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Congress Passed Deal to Address September Deadlines
After negotiating with Minority Leaders Schumer (D-NY) and Pelosi (D-CA) in early September, President Trump signed a legislative package to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling through December 8, 2017, as well as provide a first round of emergency aid for Hurricane Harvey. These items were set to expire at the end of the month. Despite concerns from Republicans to negotiate a longer term update for appropriations and the debt ceiling, this legislation passed and freed up time in the legislative calendar to address other issues such as the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

CHIP Reauthorization Legislation Introduced
Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 1827, the Keeping Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure (KIDS) Act, last month. This legislation extends funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years. While this legislation has bipartisan support, the Senate was not able to vote on it prior to the September 30 funding deadline. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding a hearing on the CHIP program this week. While federal funding for CHIP has expired, Congress is expected to finalize a funding extension before the end of the year.

Senate Fails to Repeal the Affordable Care Act
Senators Graham (R-SC), Cassidy (R-LA), Johnson (R-WI), and Heller (R-NV) introduced a new iteration of the Senate Republicans’ ACA repeal and replace strategy in a last attempt to pass a bill through the budget reconciliation process prior to the September 30 deadline. The "Graham-Cassidy Bill" would have terminated the ACA's Medicaid expansion, premium tax credits, cost-sharing reduction payments, and other ACA funding programs and redistributed funds to the states to be used to assist with premiums, cost-sharing, reinsurance programs, or for market stabilization. The legislation also imposed a per capita cap on Medicaid funding and allowed for 1332 waivers to be used to change premiums based on health, age, and other factors. Senators Graham and Cassidy were unable to secure the 50 votes needed to pass the bill on the Senate floor before the deadline. Health care efforts now turn to the bipartisan efforts of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) to stabilize the current market exchange system.

The next edition of the Capitol Connection will be published on October 3, 2017.

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