Despite President Trump’s call to let Obamacare implode its unlikely come September that the Republicans in Congress, many facing reelection, will let Obamacare fail.
Here’s a wrap up as Congress goes on vacation.
“After the failure early Friday of the latest Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Trump said that he wants to “let ObamaCare implode, then deal.” Mr. Trump has already been doing three things to undermine important provisions of the health law, and there is more he could do.
What Trump can do: Weaken enforcement of the individual mandate; Impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients; Fail to do advertising or outreach; Make tax credits for premiums less generous; Defund subsidies that help people pay out-of-pocket costs; Redefine essential health benefits.” (C)
The politics are exceedingly tricky in a divided and dysfunctional Washington, but economists, insurers, doctors and health policy experts across the political spectrum agree that immediately addressing three or four basic shortcomings in the existing system would go a long way toward making the law more effective and financially stable. Stabilize the Markets. Reduce Drug Prices. Expand Access for Poor. (D)
“In an attempt to hit Republicans where it counts, Trump on Monday morning tweeted, “If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldn’t it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what public pays?” It was at once an effort to threaten insurers about withholding Obamacare cost-sharing reduction payments and to threaten Congress about the special treatment it receives under Obamacare.”(E)
‘The first part of Trump’s tweet appeared to be referring to the approximately $8 billion in cost-sharing reduction subsidies the federal government pays to insurers to lower the price of health coverage for low-income Americans.
The second part appeared to be a threat to end the employer contribution for Congress members and their staffs, who were moved from the normal federal employee health-care benefits program onto the Obamacare insurance exchanges as part of the 2010 health-care law.’ (F)
“Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, whose panel oversees both health care and tax policy, said he was ready to tackle taxes. “I think we are moving on to tax reform but that doesn’t mean we can’t do more than one thing at a time,” he said, adding that Senate Republicans should not vote on health care again unless there is “a reasonable chance of success.”” (G)
“A group of around 40 House Republicans and Democrats known as the Problem Solvers Caucus has endorsed an outline of ideas aimed at making urgent fixes to Obamacare. While there is no legislative text yet, members in the caucus are moving quickly to seize the defeat of a Senate bill last Friday to garner broader support for their proposals — and force the GOP to ditch its quest to gut the current health care law once and for all.
The group’s proposal includes mandatory funding for cost-sharing reduction payments; the creation of a stability fund; a repeal of the medical device tax; and increasing the employer mandate’s threshold so that companies with 500 employees or more, rather than 50, are required to provide workers with health insurance.” (H)
“The apparent demise of the Republican drive to scrap the Affordable Care Act may open the door to bipartisan fixes to the law. If it does, some of the proposals being touted by a bipartisan group of governors may get a hearing on Capitol Hill….
For example, the governors want the federal government to continue to provide subsidies to low-income Americans so they can afford to purchase insurance on the marketplaces. In 2017, the federal government is expected to give tax credits totaling $38 billion to about 9 million people.
The governors also insist that at least through 2018, the federal government should continue to make it easier for lower-income Americans who purchase coverage on the marketplaces to afford out-of-pocket expenses.” (I)
“Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the influential chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, announced Tuesday that his panel would begin work in early September on legislation to “stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance market” for 2018. He publicly urged Trump to continue making payments to health insurance companies to reimburse them for reducing the out-of-pocket medical expenses of low-income people.
In the House, two Republicans, Reps. Tom Reed of New York and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, teamed up with Democrats to promote incremental health legislation that also would fund the cost-sharing subsidies.
The two moves were a remarkable response to the president’s repeated threats to send health insurance markets into a tailspin. They offered tangible indications of cooperation between the parties after Republican efforts to scrap the Affordable Care Act collapsed in the Senate last week, all but ending the seven-year Republican quest to overturn President Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Lawmakers from both parties concede that the health law needs improvement, as consumers face sharp premium increases and a shrinking number of insurance options in many states.” (J)
“Independent health-care experts agree that the Affordable Care Act has resulted in the lowest percentage of uninsured Americans ever and the slowest rate of inflation in health-care spending in 50 years. Incentives in the law are improving the quality of care, Medicare beneficiaries have saved nearly $27 billion on prescription drugs, nearly 600,000 unnecessary hospital readmissions have been prevented and the cost of premiums in the individual market today is almost exactly where the Congressional Budget Office predicted it would be eight years ago. The law is also projected to reduce federal deficits by more than a trillion dollars in coming years.
That’s an impressive record, but serious repairs are needed. While most marketplaces are stable, some are in danger of collapse. Costs are still too high for many families, and uncertainty over federal policy is making it treacherous for plans to price premiums accurately.
Both Republicans and Democrats have already proposed remarkably similar solutions targeted to solve these problems. They are affordable, not technically difficult to implement and would help families in all parts of our country. And they demonstrate that the law — and all the good it has done — doesn’t need to be destroyed to make needed improvements.” (K)
(A) McConnell on healthcare failure: ‘Feel better, Hillary Clinton could be president’, by JULIA MANCHESTER, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/345464-mcconnell-after-healthcare-failure-feel-better-hillary-clinton-could-be
(B) McCain Voted Against Health Care Bill…Because it Would ‘Screw’ Arizona, by Cortney O’Brien Cortney O’Brien, https://townhall.com/tipsheet/cortneyobrien/2017/08/02/why-mccain-voted-against-health-care-bill-n2363645
(C) 3 Things Trump Is Already Doing to ‘Let Obamacare Implode’, by By HAEYOUN PARK and MARGOT SANGER-KATZ, https://nyti.ms/2vDytIK
(D) How to Repair the Health Law (It’s Tricky but Not Impossible), By REED ABELSON, ABBY GOODNOUGH and KATIE THOMAS, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/29/health/aca-obamacare-repeal-how-to-fix-health-care.html
(E) Daily on Healthcare: Angry Trump demands GOP Senate pass healthcare bill … but McConnell’s fundamental problem remains, by Philip Klein and Robert King and Kimberly Leonard, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/daily-on-healthcare-angry-trump-demands-gop-senate-pass-healthcare-bill-but-mcconnells-fundamental-problem-remains/article/2176736
(F) Trump threatens to end insurance payments if no health-care bill, https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/30/trump-threatens-to-end-insurance-payments-if-no-health-care-bill.html
(G) Dejected Republicans on Obamacare repeal: Barring a miracle, ‘it’s over’, By Lauren Fox, MJ Lee and Ted Barrett, http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/31/politics/future-of-health-care/index.html
(H) After collapse of Obamacare repeal in the Senate, growing calls for bipartisanship, MJ LeeDeirdre Walsh Profile, by MJ Lee and Deirdre Walsh, http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/31/politics/senate-health-care-bipartisanship/index.html
(I) A Bipartisan Health Care Fix? Governors Have Some Ideas, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/a-bipartisan-health-care-fix-governors-have-some-ideas_us_59808b02e4b07c5ef3dc1827
(J) Congress bypasses Trump on health care, by Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan, http://projects.registerguard.com/rg/news/local/35822579-75/congress-bypasses-trump-on-health-care.html.csp
(K) How Congress can get a second chance on health care, by Nancy-Ann DeParle and Phil Schiliro, http://projects.registerguard.com/rg/news/local/35822579-75/congress-bypasses-trump-on-health-care.html.csp