Health Care

Pro-Life Groups Scuttled Obamacare Fix

“A bipartisan effort to stabilize the U.S. health-insurance markets collapsed last month after anti-abortion groups appealed directly to Vice President Mike Pence at the 11th hour,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Amid opposition from conservatives in the House of Representatives, a group of pro-life activists met with Pence to lobby the Trump administration against supporting a health-insurance market-stabilization bill on the grounds that it does not contain sufficient language on abortion restrictions.”

Republicans Have No Path Forward on Health Care

Politico: “Republicans start the year divided over whether to tear down or prop up Obamacare, a split that could derail their legislative agenda leading up to the 2018 midterm elections. GOP leaders on Capitol Hill don’t want a repeat of last year’s Obamacare fumble: They spent precious time on a failed attempt to repeal the health care law every member of the GOP was presumed to hate. But they also don’t want to take repeal off the table, which would provoke conservatives who are still determined to undo Obamacare.”

“The reality is the GOP is so divided on Obamacare, they don’t have the votes to achieve either objective — repeal or stabilization. That means former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment could keep limping along, crippled by the repeal of the individual mandate in the tax law but lifted by the surprisingly strong enrollment for the coming year.”

Trump Fires Entire AIDS/HIV Council

Washington Blade: “With no explanation, the White House has terminated members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS amid widespread discontent with President Trump’s approach to the epidemic.”

“After six members of PACHA resigned in June, the White House on Wednesday terminated the remaining 16 members without explanation via a letter from FedEx.”

Obamacare Morphs Into Government-Run Health Care

New York Times: “In short, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement is becoming more like what conservatives despise — government-run health care — thanks in part to Republican efforts that are raising premiums for people without government assistance and allowing them to skirt coverage.”

“By ending the tax penalty for people who do not have coverage, beginning in 2019, Republicans may hasten the flight of customers who now pay the full cost of their insurance. Among those left behind under the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act would be people of modest means who qualify for Medicaid or receive sizable subsidies for private insurance.”

Big Majority Enrolled in Obamacare Are from Trump States

“Americans in states that Donald Trump carried in his march to the White House account for more than 4 in 5 of those signed up for coverage under the health care law the president still wants to take down,” ABC News reports.

“An Associated Press analysis of new figures from the government found that 7.3 million of the 8.8 million consumers signed up so far for next year come from states Trump won in the 2016 presidential election. The four states with the highest number of sign-ups — Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia, accounting for nearly 3.9 million customers — were all Trump states.”

Republicans Keep Whacking at Obamacare

Washington Post: “Before Congress left Washington for the year, Republicans finally made good on their determination to knock big holes in the Affordable Care Act, crippling its requirement that most Americans carry health insurance and leaving insurers without billions of dollars in promised federal payments.”

“At the same time, public support for the perennially controversial law has inched up to around its highest point in a half-dozen years. Nearly 9 million people so far have signed up for ACA health plans for 2018 during a foreshortened enrollment season, far surpassing expectations.”

“This dual reality puts the sprawling ACA — prized domestic legacy of the Obama era, whipping post of the Trump administration — at a new precipice, with its long-term fate hinging on the November midterm elections certain to consume Washington once the new year begins.”

McConnell Wants to Move Past Obamacare Repeal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told NPR that he wants the Senate to move past Obamacare repeal in 2018 in favor of stabilizing insurance markets and to other issues.

However, Politico notes McConnell’s comment “drew a sharp rebuke from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is hoping to revive a bill next year repealing Obamacare in favor of block grants to states.”

Said Graham: “I think that’s a huge mistake. We should do everything we can to replace it, as much as Democrats did to pass it. We own it now.”

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.”