Health care reform US - Latest developments

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Congress is in recess this week and next, but lawmakers’ have teed up several ACA-related issues for potential action when they return the week of April 28, including perhaps a Senate confirmation hearing for Office of Management and Budget chief Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the president’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary. It appears that Burwell will be easily confirmed to replace Kathleen Sebelius, but Republicans will use the high-profile opportunity of a nomination hearing to attack the law.

The Senate also is expected to take up Democratic minimum wage legislation. While leaders plot strategy, Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine hopes to work with conservative Democrats to offer an alternative measure including a provision to boost the ACA’s definition of a full-time worker from 30 hours to 40 hours per week. Prospects for the measure don’t appear bright, however.

Perhaps a brighter future is in store for legislation to exempt health plans for expatriate employees from many of the ACA’s requirements. While the bipartisan bill (HR 4414) failed on the House floor last week, it will likely be resurrected in a different form and brought up in the Senate.