Health Care

Obamacare Sign Ups Continue at High Levels

“The Trump administration said Thursday that 8.8 million people had signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace, a surprisingly large number only slightly lower than the total in the last open enrollment period, which was twice as long and heavily advertised,” the New York Times reports.

“The numbers essentially defied President Trump’s assertion that ‘Obamacare is imploding.’ They suggested that consumers want and need the coverage and subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act, even though political battles over the law, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, are sure to continue in Congress and in next year’s midterm election campaigns.”

Trump Falsely Claims He Repealed Obamacare

“The Republican tax-overhaul bill may have only ended the individual mandate aspect of Obamacare, but that won’t stop President Trump from gloating to his base that he ‘repealed’ his predecessor’s signature legislation,” the Daily Beast reports.

Said Trump: “When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obamacare is being repealed. Obamacare has been repealed in this bill.”

“Contrary to his claim, however, the Affordable Care Act is still largely intact—from its Medicaid expansion to the insurance exchanges it set up to regulations on insurance companies, including those mandating coverage for pre-existing conditions.”

A Stealth Repeal of Obamacare

Politico: “Obamacare survived the first year of President Trump, but it’s badly damaged. The sweeping Republican tax bill on the verge of final passage would repeal the individual mandate in 2019, potentially taking millions of people out of the health insurance market. On top of that, the Trump administration has killed some subsidies, halved the insurance enrollment period, gutted the Obamacare marketing campaign, and rolled out a regulatory red carpet for skimpy new health plans that will change the insurance landscape in ways that are harmful to former President Obama’s signature health care law.”

“None of these individually represent a death blow. But in aggregate, the past year adds up to a slow, stealthy erosion of the law.”

Cornyn Says Tax Bill Makes Obamacare ‘Unworkable’

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that the GOP’s tax bill will hamper Obamacare and force Democrats into negotiations to replace the law, Bloomberg reports.

Said Cornyn: “Arguably, doing away with the individual mandate makes the Affordable Care Act unworkable — not that it was particularly great beforehand. Hopefully this will precipitate the bipartisan negotiation on what we need to do as an alternative.”

It Looks Like Obamacare Will Survive

Dylan Scott: “Health care lobbyists are flatly dismissing the idea that Congress could actually revisit Obamacare repeal next year. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) remain opposed to taking up repeal efforts. The party’s long-sought talking point of repealing Obamacare root and branch is probably actually, finally dead.”

“Repealing the individual mandate is a legitimate blow to the Obamacare marketplaces, but doing so won’t unravel the markets entirely. They will function worse than they did before, and premiums will rise. But millions of people who receive generous tax subsidies to buy coverage will not feel the brunt of those cost increases. The law’s rules prohibiting health insurers from discriminating against preexisting conditions remain on the books. Finally, and most importantly, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which covered upward of 15 million people, remains untouched.”

Collins Still Reviewing Tax Bill

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is still reviewing the tax bill, her spokeswoman said, suggesting she hasn’t yet reached a decision on how to vote, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“She has come under pressure from some groups in Maine to vote against the tax bill, in part because it repeals a mandate that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty, a key pillar of the Affordable Care Act.”

James Hohmann: “The health insurance market is almost certain to implode next year, and rates are likely to skyrocket for many, because of the repeal of the individual mandate. By getting rid of the linchpin of the Affordable Care Act in this bill, Republicans are giving up any standing they had to blame Barack Obama for the health-care mess. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this change alone will lead to 13 million more uninsured Americans a decade from now.”

Republicans Are Experiencing 2010 In Reverse

Politico: “A first-term president and unpopular congressional leaders are pushing a controversial legislative agenda that sparks a nationwide movement from the infuriated opposition. Retirements are suddenly putting the majority’s safe seats in play. Party leaders jam major legislation through Congress on a partisan vote, and are in such a hurry to pass it they’re rewriting it by hand hours before a vote. They lose control of their message and can’t find an easy way to get back on track. Then comes a stunning upset in a Senate special election for a seat the majority party had controlled for decades.”

“That year was 2010, when Republican Scott Brown’s upset win in the Massachusetts’ Senate race to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy previewed a tea-party fueled Republican revolution that swept the GOP into power on Capitol Hill. But after Democrat Doug Jones’ upset in Alabama on Tuesday, it could also describe the political trajectory of 2017 – except with Democrats instead of Republicans on the winning side.”

Susan Collins ‘Got Rolled’

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) wouldn’t say whether she’ll support the final tax package in the absence of guaranteed passage of the health-care bills, Bloomberg reports.

“Collins’s promise came from Senate Majority Mitch McConnell — who can’t always deliver a vote in his own chamber, let alone the one across the capitol. It’s by no means clear that either of the health care bills Collins bargained for will get anywhere in the House, where conservatives regard at least one of the measures with disdain.”

Said Democratic lobbyist Jim Manley: “She got rolled. Despite the fact that she’s a veteran legislator, as far as I’m concerned she got rolled here. The promises she extracted from the Senate leadership aren’t worth the piece of paper they’re written on.”

Collins’ Obamacare Deal May Unravel

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) “is barreling toward yet another health care showdown with her own party. But this time, she might not have the leverage to get what she wants,” Politico reports.

“Republicans who watched Collins lead the rebellion over the GOP’s Obamacare repeal effort just three months ago are playing tough on yet another high-stakes bill, wagering they can do without the Maine moderate’s swing vote and still claim a narrow year-end legislative win on tax reform.”

Support Crumbles for Bipartisan Obamacare Fix

Sam Baker: “Just a few weeks ago, the Affordable Care Act stabilization bill from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray looked like a common-sense fix with a decent shot at finding its way into Congress’ big end-of-the-year package. But that was before Republicans were on the cusp of repealing the individual mandate. Now the bill’s constituency is eroding — on every front.”

“Democrats liked Alexander-Murray on its own, but Sen. Susan Collins is now framing the bill as a trade-off to help her support repealing the law’s individual mandate, and Democrats can’t go for that deal.”

“Many Republicans never supported Alexander-Murray. The Wall Street Journal reports that it won’t be attached to the two-week spending bill Congress takes up this week, and that House Speaker Paul Ryan was never part of any agreement to pass the bill to help get Collins on board with Republicans’ tax overhaul.”

Republicans May Take on Health Care Again

Sam Baker: “Republicans have been asking themselves what they’ll turn to next, after their tax overhaul wraps up. If they repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, there’s a good chance the answer will be health care — whether they like it or not.”

“President Trump has said several times that he wants to take another crack at repeal-and-replace after the tax bill. GOP leaders in the House and Senate have not echoed that plan. But if Republicans do end up repealing the individual mandate, Insurance markets will begin to feel the effects quickly, leading to almost immediate nationwide upheaval that will be impossible to ignore — especially in an election year.”

Trump Says He’ll Support Obamacare Stablization Deal

President Trump told Republican senators he would support a new deal to stabilize Obamacare markets in exchange for repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate, the Washington Examiner reports.

“Trump met with the Republican conference on Tuesday during their weekly lunch to discuss tax reform legislation, which is expected to be brought up for a vote as early as this week. Several senators said after the lunch that Trump gave his support to a deal to stabilize the law’s exchanges, brokered by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA).”

GOP Plan Hurts Poor More Than Originally Thought

“The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office,” the Washington Post reports.

“By 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year would be worse off under the Senate bill, CBO found. By 2021, Americans earning $40,000 or less would be net losers, and by 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 a year would be worse off. On the flip side, millionaires and those earning $100,000 to $500,000 would be big beneficiaries, according to CBO calculations.”

“The main reason the poor get hit so hard in the Senate GOP bill is because the poor would receive less government aid for health care.”