Health Care

Senators Reach Deal to Stabilize Obamacare

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that he and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) have reached a bipartisan deal to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, the New York Times reports.

The deal would extend key Obamacare payments to insurers for two years and give states more flexibility to change Obamacare rules.

Said Alexander: “This takes care of the next two years. After that, we can have a full-fledged debate on where we go long-term on health care.”

President Trump called it a “good short term solution.”

Trump Said to Urge Bipartisan Health Care Deal

President Trump urged Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) “to seek out an Obamacare deal with Democrats — encouragement that might help sway Republicans who are skeptical of a bipartisan agreement,” Politico reports.

“Alexander said Trump told him by phone Oct. 14 he’d like to see a bill that funds the Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies that he abruptly cut off last week. In return, he wants to see ‘meaningful flexibility for the states in providing more choices.'”

Health Care Back on the Congressional Agenda

“The Senate this week will grapple with President Trump’s decision to stop making subsidy payments to health insurers, with lawmakers seeking a deal that would keep the money flowing while Republicans try to fold in conservative-oriented health-care priorities,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“It remains unclear whether a package could emerge that attracts support from a critical mass of senators and also from House Republicans. That could be put to the test quickly, as Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA.) are expected to introduce a plan within days and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) unveils his own, more-conservative-leaning version.”

Playbook: “Republicans at the White House and in Hill leadership stopped the bipartisan process last time around, hoping that Congress would fully repeal the health care law. Now that full repeal is all but dead, will leaders give the bipartisan approach the green light?”

How Congress Derailed the DEA’s War on Opiods

Washington Post: “In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.”

“By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight.”

“A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by the Washington Post and 60 Minutes. The DEA had opposed the effort for years.”

Trump Health Care Attacks Worry Republicans

President Trump “lit a fuse this week that will blow a hole in the Affordable Care Act, but the collateral damage could very well include fellow Republicans,” the Boston Globe reports.

“The step also heightens the risk that Republicans will be blamed for higher costs and other market disruptions stemming from Trump’s administrative assaults on the health care law, which was President Obama’s signature accomplishment.”

Los Angeles Times: “Trump move threatens to deliver chaos to health care: Insurance markets are expected to raise premiums sharply after key cost-sharing subsidies are blocked.”

For members: Why Trump’s Sabotage of Obamacare Will Backfire

Trump Takes a Sledgehammer to Obamacare

Sam Baker: “President Trump left little doubt yesterday that he intends to do as much damage as he can to the Affordable Care Act’s insurance markets. And he can do a lot.”

“The executive order Trump signed yesterday aims to undercut some of the ACA’s core ideas about how insurance markets should work. His decision to halt the law’s cost-sharing subsidies will blow up those markets in the short term. And his administration has taken a slew of other steps to undermine enrollment. There’s one constant here — to wound the ACA as badly as possible.”

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.”