Recovery Bulletin
August 15, 2017  | 

August 2017 Addiction Policy Update


When Congress returns from its August recess in September, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on bipartisan legislation to stabilize the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) had previously announced that his Committee would review stabilization legislation if the Senate was unable to pass legislation repealing and replacing the ACA.  His announcement about the upcoming hearing was met with enthusiasm from Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), two of the three Republican senators who voted with Democrats in opposition to repealing the law, with Collins telling reporters, “this is the approach we should have taken from the beginning” and Murkowski saying, “I love it!”

However, it is unclear if the bipartisan efforts will be successful and the timeline is very tight. When Alexander announced the upcoming hearing, he noted that September 27th is the deadline for insurers to sign contracts to offer plans on the 2018 exchanges.  Moreover, assuming the Senate can craft a bill and pass it, it is unclear what, if anything, the House committees of jurisdiction would do with it.


Before adjourning for the August break, the Senate approved several nominations, including Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz to be Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, a position recently created by the 21st Century Cures law, and Dr. Jerome Adams to be Surgeon General.

McCance-Katz is the former Chief Medical Officer at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Adams previously served as Indiana’s Health Commissioner, where he oversaw the state’s response to an HIV outbreak in southeast Indiana.  He replaces Dr. Vivek Murthy, who was abruptly fired by the Trump Administration in April.



This Policy Update was generously provided by Holly Strain & Carol McDaid of Capitol Decisions.