“Some conservative health policy experts don’t think Congress and Trump have gone far enough. They fear scrapping the mandate but leaving many rules intact would prove disastrous, possibly setting in motion an inevitable “bailout” from Congress that would let Obamacare live to see another day. Conservative thinker Chris Jacobs, for instance, wrote in The Federalist recently that lawmakers need to get the rest of the job done. Mandate repeal, he wrote, is like “pruning back the fruit of the poisonous tree” when what’s needed is an attack on its roots.
Yet the end of the individual mandate, combined with these other Trump policies, are likely to make comprehensive health insurance even more expensive. And if fewer people are covered, its constituency may be diluted. Yet if there’s one thing that Obamacare has proven since its enactment in 2010, it is that it is resilient, despite perpetual attack. Its protections for people with pre-existing conditions and the working poor earned it a late-blooming popularity.” (A)
The Individual Mandate is “the aspect of Obamacare that basically makes the rest of the system work — and it does work, regardless of the lies conservative politicians tell to dupe followers into thinking the healthcare reform law is a “disaster” and a “catastrophe.”
A recent report from the Commonwealth Fund found that “the Affordable Care Act has put access to healthcare in reach for millions of Americans.” It said fewer people are putting off doctor visits or struggling with medical bills.
In California alone, the percentage of uninsured working-age adults has plunged to 10% from 24%, according to the report. Nationwide, the uninsured rate fell to a record low 8.8% last year.
After President Trump took office and cast uncertainty over insurance markets, the uninsured rate rose this year to a three-year high. Which means the only disaster for Obamacare has been Trump calling it a disaster.
And now Republicans are all but ensuring failure of the law by eliminating the requirement that most people have health insurance. They say they’re protecting personal freedom, giving people the choice of whether or not to buy coverage.
All they’re really doing is showing they have no clue how insurance works.” (B)
“Of all the reasons the Republican tax bill will be a mugging of the majority of non-wealthy Americans, one reason stands out above all else — the bill will seriously set back everyone who has struggled to pay for health insurance and medical expenses.
Repealing the Obamacare coverage mandate is likely to prompt insurers to raise premiums by an estimated 10 percent annually into the foreseeable future, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Why? Because as up to 13 million people drop their policies — CBO’s estimate — the remaining policy holders will end up paying more. (Those dropping coverage will revert to pre-Obamacare days of postponing treatments and hoping for the best.)
That’s just the start of the dire news affecting health care costs, as anticipated increases will more than offset any tax break. Not that most Americans were going to see tax cuts anyway — the bottom 50 percent of wage earners will see their after-tax incomes shrink by 2 percent; the middle 40 percent’s after-tax incomes will shrink by 0.6 percent; while the top 10 percent will see their incomes grow by 1.5 percent or more, the New York Times noted Monday.
There’s more bad health care news. The tax bill’s $1.5 trillion cost also preys on seniors, triggering spending cuts of 4 percent annually for Medicare, the federal health program for those 65 and older.” (C)
“In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Collins announced her support of the tax legislation, saying that the bill would create more jobs and allow for higher wages. Collins also said she would have preferred that the bill not include repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate penalties that require Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine.
“I have never supported the individual mandate,” she said. “There is a big difference between fining people who choose people who choose go without health insurance, versus the bills considered last summer and fall that would have taken away insurance coverage from people who have it and want it. Those bills also would have made sweeping cuts in the Medicaid program.”
She also touted the Obamacare bills she negotiated to be brought to the floor for passage, which include funding for cost-sharing reduction subsidies as well as funding for reinsurance.” (D)
“Collins announced Monday that she would vote for the tax bill based on promises from President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to support two health care bills aimed at mitigating the expected damage from the tax bill’s provision killing Obamacare’s individual mandate…
Still, many Republicans, including Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), said there is widespread opposition in the House to these policies, which they see as propping up Obamacare.
“Our guys do not want to be in the position of upholding a system that we all oppose and that we tried to repeal and did repeal in this chamber. That’s a real problem,” Cole said, before taking aim at Collins. “We’re not going to let ourselves be blackmailed by one senator for one vote in the United States Senate. I don’t think so.”
McConnell promised Monday that Collins’ health care bills will be attached to the continuing resolution that must pass before midnight on Friday to avoid a government shutdown, along with a host of other bills including natural disaster aid for hurricane ravaged states and the reauthorization of a lapsed health insurance program that covers millions of children.
But House Republicans say it is likely they will vote to strip out the health care bill and kick the bill back to the Senate, setting up a bicameral showdown….
As she strode through the basement of the Senate on her way to a vote on another matter Tuesday afternoon, reporters swarmed around a stony-faced Susan Collins to ask if she still felt comfortable voting for the tax bill if her health care policies’ prospects in the House are in danger.
“We’re a long ways to the end of this,” she said. “I’m not going to comment on the stories you all are trying to write.” (E)
(A) The stealth repeal of Obamacare, by JOANNE KENEN, https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/19/obamacare-repeal-tax-bill-trump-243912
(B) GOP tax bill also manages to needlessly screw up the healthcare system, by David Lazarus, http://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-republican-tax-bill-individual-mandate-20171219-story.html
(C) The main reason the GOP tax plan is a catastrophe: It will send health care costs through the roof, by STEVEN ROSENFELD, https://www.salon.com/2017/12/19/the-1-reason-the-gop-tax-plan-is-a-catastrophe-it-will-send-health-care-costs-through-the-roof_partner/
(D) Susan Collins accuses media of being sexist in coverage of tax bill, by Kimberly Leonard, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/susan-collins-accuses-media-of-being-sexist-in-coverage-of-tax-bill/article/2643969
(E) House GOPers Say Susan Collins’ Health Care Demands Are Dead On Arrival, by ALICE OLLSTEIN, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/house-gopers-say-susan-collins-health-care-demands-are-dead-on-arrival