Health Care

Trump Will Halt Critical Obamacare Subsidy

President Trump “plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage in his most aggressive move yet to undermine the health care law,” Politico reports.

“The subsidies, which are worth an estimated $7 billion this year and are paid out in monthly installments, may stop almost immediately since Congress hasn’t appropriated funding for the program.”

Sam Baker: “If Congress doesn’t step up and guarantee this funding, expect insurance companies to raise their premiums dramatically; leave at least some of the ACA’s marketplaces altogether; and potentially sue the administration for withholding payments the law says they’re supposed to receive.”

Trump Will Undermine Obamacare with His Pen

President Trump “is trying to do with the stroke of a pen what Republicans in Congress could not — bring about the end of the Obamacare markets,” Politico reports.

“Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Thursday directing an overhaul of major federal regulations that would encourage the rise of a raft of cheap, loosely regulated health insurance plans that don’t have to comply with certain Obamacare consumer protections and benefit rules. They’d attract younger and healthier people — leaving older and sicker ones in the Obamacare markets facing higher and higher costs.”

Washington Post: “The White House and allies portray the president’s move to expand access to ‘association health plans’ as wielding administrative powers to accomplish what congressional Republicans have failed to achieve: tearing down the law’s insurance marketplaces and letting some Americans buy skimpier coverage at lower prices.”

Trump Has Backdoor Way to Lift Obamacare Regulations

“President Trump, desperate for a health-care win that Congress couldn’t hand him, is pursuing a backdoor way of letting more Americans buy insurance plans free of the Obamacare regulations that Republicans have blamed for big premium hikes and costly deductibles,” the Washington Post reports.

“In theory, letting people buy cheaper, leaner plans sounds great. Until you’re diagnosed with a chronic condition or serious disease. Experts say that if insurers are allowed to sell stripped-down plans, the move will prompt healthy people to exit the Obamacare marketplaces and flock to those plans instead.”

Republicans Privately Admit Defeat on Obamacare Repeal

“For the first time, rank-and-file Republicans are acknowledging Obamacare may never be repealed,” Politico reports.

“After multiple failures to repeal the law, the White House and many GOP lawmakers are publicly promising to try again in early 2018. But privately, both House and Senate Republicans acknowledge they may never be able to deliver on their seven-year vow to scrap the law.”

“Even if Republicans try again next year, few House Republicans are confident the Senate would be successful without a change in the GOP lineup or someone flipping their vote.”

Quote of the Day

“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.”

— President Trump, quoted by The Hill, saying the states should be responsible for health care.

Trump Wants to Work with Democrats on Health Care

President Trump telephoned Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in an effort to revive health-care legislation, Axios reports.

“Although it’s not known what Trump proposed or how Schumer responded, word traveled fast among Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  The initial reaction among some Republicans was consternation, even though they didn’t know the upshot of the call.”

Said one well-wired Republican: “It codifies the Republicans’ failure on repeal/replace and shows the President can move without hesitation or ideological impediment to make a deal with the Democratss. It depresses the Republican base turnout in the midterms, as Trump voters are further disconnected from the Congressional wing.”

Trump Set to Roll Back Birth Control Mandate

“The Trump administration is poised to roll back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, vastly expanding exemptions for those that cite moral or religious objections,” the New York Times reports.

“More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate, according to a study commissioned by the Obama administration. Under the new regulations, hundreds of thousands of women could lose birth control benefits they now receive at no cost under the Affordable Care Act.”

Democrats Blame GOP For Obamacare Premium Hike

Caitlin Owens: “For years, Democrats have been on the receiving end of political attacks about rising Affordable Care Act premiums. But the roles are about to be reversed — and it’s not clear whether Republicans will be able to avoid the blame.”

“Not only has the GOP failed to fulfill a key campaign promise, but it’s also going to get slammed for allowing things to get worse for voters.”

Said economist Doug Holtz-Eakin: “As of now, they own the whole issue.”

ACA Supporters Will Try to Sign People Up Themselves

“Supporters of the Affordable Care Act are ready to roll out a new campaign encouraging people to buy insurance — an effort they hope will make up for at least some of the cuts the Trump administration has made to enrollment outreach,” Axios reports.

“The ACA only works if people sign up, and the Trump administration has canceled or rolled back almost every effort to get people enrolled. Outside groups can’t fill that void entirely, but they’re hoping to at least keep enrollment stable.”

Johnson Says Health Care and Food Are ‘Privileges’

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told a group of high school students “that they don’t have a right to health care, food and shelter,” WISN reports.

Said Johnson: “I think it’s probably more of a privilege.”

He added: “Do you consider food a right? Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right? What we have as rights is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Past that point, we have the right to freedom. Past that point is a limited resource that we have to use our opportunities given to us to afford those things.”

Trump Makes Up Reason Repeal Effort Failed

“President Trump lately, and oddly, has taken to blaming Republicans’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act this week on the false claim that a GOP senator has been ‘in the hospital’ and couldn’t make the vote,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Said Trump: “We have one senator who’s a ‘yes’ vote, a great person, but he’s in the hospital.”

He added: “We have the votes to get it done. You can’t do it when somebody is in the hospital.”

The Health Care Fight Is Far From Over

John Cassidy: “On Wednesday, Lindsey Graham, who had just watched his bill die, said that the Party would return to health care immediately after passing tax reform. But a legislative window for pushing through a health-care measure with just fifty votes is closing, and, going forward, the Republicans will need sixty votes to break a Democratic filibuster. Unless, of course, they pass another budget-reconciliation bill, which would give them another chance at a fifty-vote victory. Or they could get rid of the filibuster altogether, a step which Donald Trump urged them to do on Wednesday.”

“For now, it looks like the next repeal effort will have to wait until after the 2018 midterms. But another thing we’ve learned in the past few months is that you should never underestimate the determination of the Republicans, and of their wealthy donors, to dismantle Obamacare, or their eagerness to embrace practically any tactic that might help them achieve their goal.”

For members: Obamacare Isn’t Safe Yet

Alexander Will Resume Bipartisan Health Care Talks

“With the collapse of the GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said Tuesday he is restarting bipartisan talks to stabilize health insurance markets and bring down premiums,” the Tennessean reports.

Alexander said he will consult with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and other Republicans and Democrats “to see if senators can find consensus on a limited bipartisan plan that could be enacted into law to help lower premiums and make insurance available to the 18 million Americans in the individual market in 2018 and 2019.”

David Nather: “There’s still no guarantee that they can get a deal — Alexander wants to give states more freedom from ACA rules than Murray does. But the fact that Alexander is willing to restart the talks, after walking away from them last week during the Graham-Cassidy effort, could be a sign that the repeal bill’s failure is reviving the prospects for ‘fixing’ the ACA.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“We were very disappointed by a couple of senators, Republican senators I must say, we were very disappointed that they would take the attitude that they did. But we are disappointed in certain so-called Republicans.”

President Trump, quoted by The Hill, on the latest failed GOP attempt to repeal Obamacare.