Senate Republicans continued to press forward related to important health care issues, as the number of legislative days dwindle prior to the end of the federal “fiscal” year, September 30th.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee is holding bipartisan hearings through this week, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that he hopes to release a bipartisan health care bill within the next 10 days after conferring with Senate leadership.

In addition, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) unveiled the final remaining Republican plan to reform the nation’s health care system.

The proposed legislation, which has been discussed for weeks, faces monumental odds to pass given that it will have to receive a score from the Congressional Budget Office, receive committee scrutiny, pass the committee, be subjected to Byrd Rule scrutiny, receive a floor debate, face a series of votes on amendments, and pass the Senate with 50 votes. At that point, the House would have to pass the same bill as-is, or make changes that the Senate would again approve with 50 votes. In order for the plan to become law, all of this has to happen by September 30 at midnight. You can read a summary of the proposal here.

In addition, the American Hospital Association (AHA) held a national Regional Policy Board (RPB) meeting and Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, on Monday and Tuesday. Eric Hilmoe, Vice President Sanford Health Networks, Scott A. Duke, President/CEO SDAHO and AHA Delegates from our region attended the meetings and participated in “Hill Visits” with the South Dakota Congressional Delegation.

The priority health care legislative issues that need to be addressed include the following: secure cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments; renew funding for the CHIP program; pass Medicare “extenders” provisions; maintain funding for 340B program; and avoid Medicaid DSH cuts.