After a recent two week recess, members of Congress returned to the nation's capital with several high-priority items on their agenda, including negotiations to keep the federal government open and renewed attempts to reform health care.
Federal Government Funding
The government is currently funded through Friday, April 28. If the House and Senate can't agree on new spending levels for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 by then, the government will shut down until they strike a deal. Congressional leaders of both parties say they want to avoid a shutdown and are working toward that goal. If Congress can't pass a FY 2017 budget, it may temporarily extend current federal funding levels (known as a continuing resolution) until a budget deal can be reached. At this time, news reports say lawmakers are making progress toward a final FY 2017 budget but a continuing resolution is still a possibility.
Health Care Reform
Another major topic in Washington is ongoing health care reform efforts. In March, Congress tried to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would have repealed and reformed parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The AHCA was pulled from consideration on the House floor, but lawmakers said they would amend the legislation and try again. Reports indicate the president and members of Congress are discussing potential amendments and a new version of the proposal could be released this week. Although we're still unsure of the specific language in the bill, we do know that several provisions in the AHCA would have impacted the Parkinson's community, including those that increased senior health care costs and reduced funding for Medicaid. (Read more about the AHCA, then contact your lawmakers to let them know what's important to you when it comes to health care.) While some policymakers are pushing for a new bill, others have said they would like to focus on the federal budget before they turn their attention to health care. It is still unclear if any legislation will be introduced this week.
The Foundation will continue monitoring activities related to the potential government shutdown and health care reform, and will keep the community updated. Stay tuned to michaeljfox.org/policyblog for the latest news.