January 6, 2017 Edition

Legislative Update

The California Legislature returned to the Capitol on Wednesday, January 4, for a relatively quiet and short week.  Legislative leadership announced retaining former U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder and his firm Covington & Burling, to serve as legal counsel to advise on potential legal challenges with the incoming Trump Administration. Legislative leaders noted that the Legislature would work with the Governor and next state Attorney General to protect the economy and policies on climate change, health care, civil rights and immigration.

California Attorney General nominee Xavier Becerra will go before the Legislature for a confirmation hearing at 9 a.m., Tuesday, January 10. The nomination is subject to confirmation by both houses, and they will have 90 days from the date of the official nomination (January 3) to act.

Budget Update

Governor Brown is expected to unveil his 2017-18 budget plan next week. CHEAC will provide an overview of the Governor’s budget post-release. As a refresher, CHEAC’s write-up of the LAO’s fiscal outlook can be found here.

Federal Update

This week, Senator Mike Enzi, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced a resolution to begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The resolution provides instructions to the committees with jurisdiction over the ACA (Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, and House Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means) on how to proceed; however, the bill contains no information on a potential replacement plan.  Instructions to the committees require draft reconciliation bills to be produced by Friday, January 27; these draft proposals will be combined for consideration by both houses. It is expected these bills will include the timeline for how long Congress will have to replace the ACA and specific details on which provisions of the ACA that will be repealed.  Specific details remain elusive.   The target date for providing a repeal bill to President-Elect Trump is February 20.

Meanwhile, Republicans continue to work on a plan to replace the ACA. Last month, House GOP leaders issued a letter soliciting input from State Governors and Insurance Commissioners on a replacement. Responses are due today, January 6. It has been reported that California Insurance Commission Dave Jones will provide a response.

In other federal health-related news, a confirmation hearing for President Elect Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee, representative Tom Price, has been set in the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee for Wednesday, January 18.  Senate Democrats asked earlier this week for a House ethics investigation into Representative Price’s financial investments and stock holdings following a Wall Street Journal article alleging Price traded substantial health-related stock shares while also voting on bills that could impact those companies.  His confirmation will be subject to a majority vote (rather than the 60-vote filibuster threshold).

Other items of interest:

  • California Budget & Policy Center fact sheet on the importance of federal funds to California’s State Budget.
  • California Budget & Policy Center fact sheet on Medi-Cal Enrollment statewide.
  • Kaiser Health Tracking Poll on America’s health care priorities for 2017, including a finding that nearly half (47%) of all Americans do not want the ACA repealed with an additional 28% percent who support repeal but not without a detailed replacement plan announcement.