The House Rules Committee voted to move forward on the discussion of the Farm Bill, H.R.2. Next, the committee will review and decide which of the 100 plus proposed amendments can be presented. However, the bill, as written, faces stiff opposition from conservative members of Congress. It has been suggested that they are withholding support on the current version of the Farm Bill to use as leverage to take up legislation pertaining to immigration.
While the Farm Bill does not contain major programmatic issues for health care, there is a provision which could undermine the Affordable Care Act. Included in the House legislative proposal is a $65 million in loans and grants administered by the Department of Agriculture to help organizations establish agricultural-related policies modeled on “association health plans.” Supporters say this funding could help provide farmers with cheaper (and likely less comprehensive) health insurance than plans offered through the Affordable Care Act.
Other provisions dealing with health include reauthorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp program). As currently written, imposition of work requirements for participants will be strengthened. Additional programs include funding for dealing with the opioid epidemic in rural areas, along with funding of loan or grant programs for community facilities.