Week ahead: CLASS Act dead, but not gone

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Positive reaction to a final rule on accountable care organizations helped the Obama administration shift the healthcare dialogue away from the failed Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act program this week, but congressional Republicans aren’t willing to let the program die quietly.
 
A group of House and Senate Republicans sent Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusOPINION | 5 big ideas to halt America's opioid epidemic Aligning clinical and community resources improves health Sebelius on GOP healthcare plan: 'I'm not sure what the goal is here' MORE another letter about CLASS on Thursday, reiterating lawmakers’ earlier criticisms of the long-term-care program and asking Sebelius to explain why she had previously indicated that CLASS could work.
 
Conservatives are also pushing hard to formally repeal the CLASS Act from the healthcare law. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed repeal on Friday, saying Congress shouldn’t leave an unworkable program on the books even if HHS isn’t going to try to implement it.
 
The Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health and Oversight subcommittees will hold a joint hearing on CLASS on Wednesday.
 
Also on the Hill this week, the House is scheduled to vote on a bill that would roll back the healthcare law’s Medicaid expansion. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Diane BlackDiane BlackHouse to take up spending bills, then budget Jockeying begins in race for House Budget gavel Overnight Finance: Trump signs Russia sanctions bill, rips Congress | Trump plan would cut legal immigration | Senate confirms labor board pick | House Budget chair running for governor | Regulator takes step to change 'Volcker Rule' MORE (R-Tenn.), would change the way the federal government calculates whether people are eligible for Medicaid. About a million middle-income people who became eligible for Medicaid under the reform law would lose that eligibility if Black’s bill were to become law.
 
A vote is expected Thursday, and the bill will likely pass easily.
 
The Senate won’t be in session this week.
 
Off the Hill, HHS is slated to hear from employers and insurers about essential health benefits — the services that every plan sold in newly created insurance exchanges will have to cover. The listening session is scheduled for Tuesday. Providers and consumer advocates made their pitches last week.
 
The Food and Drug Administration will convene a public meeting Monday on the reauthorization of its industry user fees. Congress must vote next year to reauthorize the fees that help pay for the agency’s reviews of new drugs and medical devices. The agency is already well into the process of trying to hammer out an agreement among industry and consumer groups on the policy changes that inevitably accompany the user fee reauthorization.
 
On Friday, the Alliance for Health Reform holds a briefing on Medicaid managed care and its ability to save states money.