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Road ahead: House health care week again, as Senate tackles contentious nominations

Lindsey McPherson, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- It's health care week, part two, in the House as the chamber will vote on a package of seven bills designed to strengthen the 2010 law and lower prescription drug prices -- after passing a measure last week that Democrats said would protect people with pre-existing conditions.

But the health care package won't be the only marquee legislation on the floor this week. Democrats will be halfway through advancing their top 10 bills out of the House after a vote on HR 5, the Equality Act.

HR 5, led by Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island and co-sponsored by all but one member of the Democratic Caucus, would amend the Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, education, housing, employment, jury service and federal financing.

The health care package, titled the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act, is composed of seven bills reported out of committee.

The legislation would ban so-called junk insurance plans, provide funding for states to establish their own insurance marketplaces under the terms of the 2010 health care law and restore funding the Trump administration cut for the law's marketing and the navigator program, which helps people sign up for insurance coverage, among other policies.

Most of those components, designed to strengthen the 2010 law, are ones most Republicans do not support. That's why GOP members are upset that bipartisan legislation to help bring generic prescription drugs to market more quickly (in an effort to provide more affordable choices) was made part of the package.

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The health care bill Democrats passed last week with the assistance of four Republicans -- called the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act -- would require the administration to rescind 2018 guidance that made it easier for states to change their individual insurance markets and bypass the health care law.

Republicans voting against it argued that the Section 1332 waivers at the center of the legislation don't allow states to waive pre-existing condition protections.

Democrats are also bringing a measure to the floor under a rule that they had to pull from the suspension calendar last week amid Republican opposition. Measures brought under a rule need only a simple majority for passage, but suspension measures require two-thirds support.

The bill in question would reaffirm the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe reservation in Massachusetts -- the planned site for a casino -- as trust land and dismiss any pending legal matters related to the land.

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