What the FY 2018 budget resolution means for ACA repeal

Senate Republicans’ fiscal year 2018 budget resolution suggests that they have put their goal of broadly unwinding the Affordable Care Act on the back burner—yet they could still use it to repeal key parts of the law. 

The budget resolution (PDF), released by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., on Friday, contains reconciliation instructions that direct the Senate Finance Committee to “reduce revenues and change outlays to increase the deficit by not more than $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.”

Since that reconciliation instruction is rather broad, the GOP could potentially use it to repeal some ACA-related taxes and other provisions that make health insurance affordable under the law, argued a post from the left-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP).

With their new budget resolution, Republicans could also still roll back other portions of the ACA, including the individual mandate, a Bloomberg article noted.

But because the budget resolution doesn’t include any instructions for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee or the House Energy and Commerce Committee to craft reconciliation legislation, that may indicate that broader ACA repeal efforts are on hold, The Hill reported

In addition to the reconciliation instructions, the budget resolution includes deficit-neutral reserve funds for legislation that would allow Congress to repeal or replace the ACA. This primarily just signals rhetorical support for rolling back the healthcare law, the CAP post noted, but that’s significant since it shows the GOP isn’t giving up on repeal.

In other policy-related news:

Oklahoma withdraws state innovation waiver

Citing the federal government’s failure to provide a timely approval of a section 1332 waiver that would have set up a state-based reinsurance program, Oklahoma has withdrawn its application.

“While we appreciate the work of your staff, the lack of timely waiver approval will prevent thousands of Oklahomans from realizing the benefits of significantly lower insurance premiums in 2018,” Oklahoma Health and Human Services Secretary Terry Cline wrote in a letter (PDF) to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and HHS Secretary Tom Price, who has since resigned. 

Cline added that Oklahoma would be willing to explore and develop other 1332 waiver opportunities, but wants to see “clear timeframes to navigate the federal waiver approval process.”