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Week ahead: Deadlines loom for ObamaCare sign-ups, taxes

Week ahead: Deadlines loom for ObamaCare sign-ups, taxes
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Health care deadlines, from ObamaCare sign-ups to government funding, are looming over the coming week.

The last day to sign up for ObamaCare coverage for next year is Friday. Observers will be watching closely to see how big the final surge of sign-ups is. Enrollment is widely expected to be lower than in previous years, in part due to a shorter sign-up period this year and cutbacks in outreach by the Trump administration.

There is uncertainty over how the final picture will shake out, though, leading to some suspense in the final week. Any drop-off in sign-ups is likely to intensify Democratic cries that President TrumpDonald TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media MORE has sabotaged the health-care law, while Republicans could use lower numbers to argue that the law is failing.

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In addition, negotiations over a range of health-care issues that need to be resolved before the end of the year are heating up.

Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and community health centers is expected to be included as part of a larger spending package for the government beyond Dec. 22. But advocates say the funding should have been passed long ago.

Leading children's groups expressed frustration that CHIP, which provides roughly nine million children with health coverage, wasn't reauthorized in the short-term spending bill Congress passed Thursday. It included a stopgap measure aimed at helping ease restrictions on the amount of unspent money states can get, but advocates want the certainty of long-term funding.

"While Congress professes to be supportive of CHIP, the delay in long-term funding for CHIP is sending a different message to families and states," seven children's groups said in a statement Wednesday. "Confidence in the program's future cannot be restored with stopgap measures, and these Congressional delays jeopardize the long-term stability of this lifeline for children."

The uncertainty has worried state officials, who have been asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for money to help keep their programs running.

A showdown is also heating up over bipartisan measures aimed at stabilizing the ObamaCare marketplaces.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (R-Maine) won a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBoebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report Urgency mounts for new voting rights bill Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster MORE (R-Ky.) to support passage of the bills before the end of the year, in exchange for her vote for tax reform.

But House Republicans are opposed to the measures, arguing they are simply throwing more money at ObamaCare.

Health industry lobbyists are also seeking to repeal or delay two ObamaCare taxes set to kick in Jan. 1, one on medical devices and the other on health insurance. Opponents of the Cadillac tax, a fee levied on pricey employer-sponsored plans, also want to see this tax delayed, though it isn't scheduled to begin until 2020.

 

What's on tap

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing titled "Examining Concerns of Patient Brokering and Addiction Treatment Fraud" on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Senate Health Committee will convene a hearing titled "The Cost of Prescription Drugs: An Examination of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report 'Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative.'"

Also on prescriptions drugs, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will examine the drug supply chain Wednesday.  

On that same day, the Senate Health Committee will convene to discuss the mental health provisions in a biomedical innovation bill passed last year.

 

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