Policy Round-Up: Administration, CHIP, and FY2018 Appropriations

By Emily McCloskey October 3, 2017

Secretary Price Resigns

On Friday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned his position, after controversy surrounding his use of government funds for travel. Dr. Don Wright, who was serving as Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, will now service as Acting Secretary. Dr. Wright is a career official at the Department of Health and Human Services who is very familiar with HIV and hepatitis issues. There are many rumors about who will replace Dr. Price, including Seema Verma, current Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Scott Gottlieb, current commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration, and Bobby Jindal, former governor of Louisiana.  The Administration has still not nominated a replacement to serve as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, after former Secretary, John Kelly, moved in late July to the White House to become President Trump’s Chief of Staff. 

PACHA Charter Renewed

Last Friday, President Trump issued a Presidential Executive Order on the Continuance of Certain Federal Advisory Committees, which renewed the charter of 32 federal advisory committees, including the Presidential Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). The charters were renewed through September 30, 2019.  There are several vacancies on PACHA and NASTAD will be working with the Administration to ensure ongoing governmental public health representation. 

Children’s Health Insurance Program Authorization Lapsed

Congress failed to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by the September 30 deadline. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to consider legislation this week and the Senate Finance Committee has not scheduled a mark up on S. 1827, the KIDS Act, which would reauthorize the program for five years. In addition to the CHIP funding, Congress failed to renew funding for Community Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).

FY2018 Budget and Appropriations

Last week, the Senate revealed their FY2018 Budget proposal. The budget’s top line spending levels align with the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Senate Budget does include a provision that could potentially be used for Affordable Care Act Repeal. Title III, Deficit-Neutral Reserve Fund to Protect Flexible and Affordable Health Care For All, allows the Budget Committee chair to “revise the allocations of a committee or committees, aggregates, and other appropriate levels in this resolution, and make adjustments to the pay-as-you-go ledger, for one or more bills, joint resolutions, amendments, amendments between the Houses, motions, or conference reports relating to repealing or replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA].” There are no specific instructions to the Committees of Jurisdiction to craft repeal legislation, making it less likely that Congress will proceed with repeal. While it is reported that Congress plans to focus on tax reform, NASTAD will continue to advocate to protect the ACA.

The House Budget, which should be voted on this week, exceeds the budget caps and funds non-defense discretionary funding below current levels. As the House Budget proposal was written before the failure of the ACA repeal, it does not include provisions for ACA repeal. After passage of their respective budget resolutions, the House and Senate will negotiate through the conference process and pass one budget resolution through both chambers. It is rumored that it will be similar to the Senate proposal.

The FY2018 fiscal year began on October 1. Earlier this summer, Congress voted on a continuing resolution to fund the government through December 8. Funding allocations for HIV and hepatitis programs will not be finalized at least until then. NASTAD continues to advocate for the highest possible funding amounts for these programs.

NASTAD will continue to provide updates as they become available.