While Congress passed a budget resolution last month “unlocking” the reconciliation process to repeal and replace or repair the Affordable Care Act, the January 27 deadline for the committees of jurisdiction to develop substantive legislation has come and gone. That’s why the options outlined yesterday by House Republican leaders really represent the first step in their efforts to develop consensus within the party on next steps and what potential legislation could look like. The 19-page document they shared with their colleagues ahead of next week’s Presidents’ Day recess was not draft legislation but a brief outline of potential policy options. Those options, which also include “talking points,” are consistent with Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) previously unveiled “Better Way” plan, and include familiar legislative proposals such as providing tax credits for individuals to purchase private insurance, promoting health savings accounts, establishing high-risk pools, and modernizing Medicaid by providing states with increased flexibility through “block grants” and per capita caps. Meanwhile, on the Senate side, another alternative has emerged: the Patient Freedom Act of 2017, introduced by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA). This measure would preserve the vast majority of ACA funding and gives states the option of either retaining the ACA model, or using the same amount of resources to develop a new state alternative. And, we still expect more direction from the Administration now that Tom Price has been sworn in as Health and Human Services Secretary. It was clear as legislators emerged from yesterday’s meeting that they still have a ways to go to come to consensus, particularly on the issue of Medicaid, although House committee leaders said they expect to begin marking up legislation when they return the week of February 27. As Congress heads home for the Presidents’ Day Recess, now is a great time to reinforce our key advocacy messages. Also, see our advocacy toolkit for additional resources, and please make plans to speak with your legislators.

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