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Key health care provisions within the reconciliation bill

G. William Hoagland, Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Vice President, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss health care policy in the reconciliation package and implications for the future.

Video Transcript

JARED BLIKRE: As Congress hammers out the reconciliation package in DC, healthcare policy is front and center. And we want to bring in G. William Hoagland, Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Vice President, to help break it down. Can you please-- and thank you for joining us, by the way. Can you please just give us an overview of the current status of that reconciliation package and specifically, the healthcare measures that are in it?

G. WILLIAM HOAGLAND: Yes, good to be with you, Jared. And the current negotiations are ongoing after we have resolved yesterday, at least temporarily, increasing the statutory debt limit until the early December. The reconciliation package is back into full discussions. In this particular package, there is a lot of material related to healthcare.

I think in the terms of a roughly and the terms of the $3.5 trillion you would hear about in terms of spending that's in the reconciliation package, I haven't done a detailed analysis. But I would say well over half, maybe about $1.5, $1.7 trillion of that is healthcare-related.

That includes such things as expansion of benefits for those individuals who go beyond, say, the current Affordable Care Act provisions, back in the Recovery Plan Act back in the spring, we extended the increased coverage to lower premiums for a number of individuals, up to about 400% of poverty. That expires at the end of this year. That would be part of the extension.

Another provision that would expand benefits to-- Medicaid benefits to those states out there that did not expand Medicaid, about 12 or 13 states. There's provisions in this reconciliation bill that deal with long-term healthcare. I think the president proposed well over $400 billion in expenditures for what we call home and community-based programs.

A big one here, of course, is Medicare benefits. The package has been proposed and pushed by progressives, including Chairman Bernie Sanders, to include new Medicaid-- Medicare benefits for dental, vision, and vision. And those are very controversial provisions, largely because they are being paid for by modifications in the way we negotiate prices for drugs. That is a major saver. And that's the one that will be it.

Those are just some of the major provisions. There are a lot. As I say, a lot. And oh, by the way, just as a sidebar-- and one can think of it as payment-- is the provision for increasing taxes on tobacco and nicotine.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, and Bill, with all the horse trading going down there in DC, I've got to ask the question, what's potentially being left out of this bill?

G. WILLIAM HOAGLAND: Well, a lot. When you think about it, we have something coming up called the Medicare HI Trust Fund exhausting in 2026. There's no focus on that. There's a little bit-- there's not much focus at all in this package on some of the major issues out there associated with the healthcare workforce, national healthcare services.

Nothing in here specifically as it relates to telehealth and telemedicine, which we know is a major expansion during the pandemic. And that very little in this package, the reconciliation package, related to preparing for the next pandemic. And finally, very little, if anything in here, as it relates to nutrition, obesity, and addressing some of those chronic care conditions out there that exist in the public today.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, the next pandemic, getting way ahead there. But I've got to ask you, what are the odds that this actually goes through? And what happens if it doesn't?

G. WILLIAM HOAGLAND: Well, I think that I-- and all cards on the table-- I work for Republicans and all my ears up there on Capitol Hill. And while it is an expensive package, at the end of the day, I do believe there will be an agreement. It may not come as quickly as the president and some in Congress would like it to come to pass, but I believe it will come, that there will be an agreement, as the president has indicated and others have on the Democratic caucus have indicated. They cannot fail.

I believe they will get an agreement. It will not be anywhere near the 3.5. They will have to scale back on a number of these initiatives. They may limit them to a certain number of years to get it all to fit within a dollar figure. But at the end of the day, I truly believe there will be a reconciliation package that will be adopted and sent to the president.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, we thank you for your thoughts on this bill. G. William Hoagland, Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Vice President.