Trump: “I want to focus on North Korea not ‘fixing somebody’s back’,…Let the states do that.” As “synthetic repeal” of ObamaCare is underway.

“President Trump praised health care block grants on Saturday, saying they allow the states to focus on health care, but said he would rather focus his energy on tensions with North Korea than “fixing somebody’s back or their knee.”
“You know in theory, I want to focus on North Korea, I want to focus on Iran, I want to focus on other things. I don’t want to focus on fixing somebody’s back or their knee or something. Let the states do that,” ….
“The block grant concept is a very good concept, and if you have good management, good governors, good politicians in the state, it’ll be phenomenal,” he continued. (A)

“The Trump administration issued rules Friday that immediately carve broad exceptions to the Affordable Care Act’s promise of no-cost contraceptive coverage, touching off fresh lawsuits and renewed debate about the proper scope of religious liberty.
The rules significantly widen the range of employers and insurers that can invoke religious or moral beliefs to avoid the ACA requirement that birth control pills and other contraceptives be covered by insurance as part of preventive care. Administration officials and their allies on the right downplayed the impact of the change on American women, while women’s rights and civil liberties groups portrayed it as a massive, discriminatory act.” (B)

“Stymied in his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Trump is poised to issue an order that could ease some federal rules governing health insurance and make it easier for people to band together and buy coverage on their own, administration officials said Saturday.
One official said the directive could move the president a step closer to one of his longstanding goals: allowing consumers to buy health insurance across state lines. Conservatives say that interstate sales could expand options for consumers, increase competition in the insurance market and perhaps lower costs.
The order, which the administration officials said was likely to be announced in the coming week, would instruct three cabinet departments to take actions to help individuals and small businesses join together to buy insurance through arrangements known as association health plans. Such plans could be sponsored by trade and professional groups and community organizations.” (C)

“Legislation to rescue the Children’s Health Insurance Program sailed through a Senate committee on Wednesday, but touched off a partisan conflict in the House, diminishing hopes that the popular program would be quickly refinanced.
Funding for the program expired on Sunday, and state officials said they would soon start notifying families that children could lose coverage if Congress did not provide additional money. It was impossible to say when Congress might pass a bill and send it to President Trump…
But in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, lawmakers brawled Wednesday over a similar bill to provide money for the children’s health program. Democrats strongly support the program, but complained that Republicans would take money from Medicare and the Affordable Care Act to offset the cost.” (D)

“President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he had talked with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to see if Democrats want to help on a “great HealthCare Bill” — but Schumer separately indicated the conversation didn’t exactly go smoothly.
“”I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill. ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!” the president wrote on Twitter Saturday morning.
Schumer, in a statement, said Trump had suggested another Obamacare repeal-and-replace effort, which the New York Democrat said was a non-starter.
“The president wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told the president that’s off the table,” Schumer said. “If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions. A good place to start might be the Alexander-Murray negotiations that would stabilize the system and lower costs.”” (E)

“”All of the things Trump and his administration have done on health care — not just pushing for repeal-replace, but independently cutting off enrollment outreach, keeping insurers in limbo about their payments, reportedly putting the kibosh even on Republican governors’ efforts to stabilize their markets, all of it — cuts in the exact opposite direction of anything Schumer would want or could abide.”” (F)

“Andy Slavitt, a former top health-care official in the Obama administration, warned on Twitter Thursday that the administration’s “sabotage” of the law added up to what he called “synthetic repeal,” meaning a range of small steps that add up to repealing ObamaCare even if Congress doesn’t act.” (G)

(A) Trump: I want to focus on North Korea not ‘fixing somebody’s back’, by JULIA MANCHESTER,
(B) The Trump administration just changed the rules on contraception coverage, by Amy Goldstein, Juliet Eilperin and William Wan,
(C) Trump Poised to Sign Order Opening New Paths to Health Insurance, by ROBERT PEAR,
(D) Bill to Rescue Children’s Health Program Hits Snag in House, by ROBERT PEAR,
(E) Trump reached out to Schumer to work on ‘great HealthCare Bill’, by BRENT D. GRIFFITHS and SEUNG MIN KIM,
(F) Trump phones a friend on health care, by Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen,
(G) Critics see Trump sabotage on ObamaCare, by PETER SULLIVAN AND RACHEL ROUBEIN,