Congress returns to work; uncertainty remains for government funding

As the second session of the 115th Congress begins, the Senate is in session this week and the House will return to work next week. With a number of important issues pending, their first order of business may be to pass yet another continuing resolution (CR), possibly out to the middle of February.

This would allow additional time to consider a number of unresolved health care issues, including: Fully funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (target for five years); eliminating Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) cuts; extending important Medicare programs for rural hospitals; private market stabilization; and disaster relief.  In addition, the fate of cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments remains unresolved.

Senate leadership continues to stress that they are not likely to pursue additional efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or other health care reform legislation and/or major changes to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other entitlement programs during 2018.

However, given the high degree of uncertainty, we must remain vigilant against the possibility of “off-sets” and “pay-fors” that could come from additional cuts to health care providers.