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Healthcare Reform News Update for May 11, 2017

Healthcare Reform News Update for May 11, 2017

Aetna Pulls Final 2 States From Individual Marketplace

Aetna has announced that the company will not offer any ACA Marketplace plans in Delaware or Nebraska in 2018. This marks the withdrawal of Aetna’s last two Marketplace plans, leaving the company with no ACA Marketplace participation for 2018. Aetna cited financial losses.

Healthcare Reform News Update for May 10, 2017

Republican Senators Take Different Sides on Medicaid Expansion

Ohio Senator Rob Portman and West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito want two very different things for Medicaid. Portman “supports rolling back the Medicaid expansion by ending the extra federal money for it, as long as there is a ‘soft landing.’” On the other hand, Capito “wants the expansion of coverage to remain, though she said it did not have to be in the same form.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for May 9, 2017

Health Insurance Companies Raise Premiums as Marketplace Uncertainty Continues

Three states—Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia—are the first to make their health insurance premium rates public. In each state, premiums will increase by more than the anticipated 20%.

  • Connecticut, with 2 marketplace insurance companies, will have an average rate increase of 24%.
  • Maryland, with 4 marketplace insurance companies, will have an average rate increase of 45%.
  • Virginia, with 6 marketplace insurance companies, will have an average rate increase of 31%.

Moderate Senators’ Concerns May Reshape Healthcare Bill

With a slim margin needed to pass the bill (Republicans can lose only two votes), the Senate’s Republicans will have to negotiate and appease both sides (conservative and moderate) of their party. Because of this, moderate Republicans have the leverage to alter several more controversial aspects of the AHCA. Moderate Republicans’ concerns with the current healthcare reform bill are predominantly about:

  • Changes to Medicaid
  • Early CBO estimates that the AHCA would result in 24 million people losing coverage
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • Planned Parenthood Funding and abortion language

Healthcare Reform News Update for May 8, 2017

Senate Healthcare Vote Will Likely Be a Simple Majority

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Associated Press that he didn’t expect Democratic support on healthcare legislation. “We don’t anticipate any Democratic help at all, so it will be a simple majority vote situation.”

More Senators Suggest Rewriting, Not Refining, GOP Healthcare Bill

Rather than revising the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), more members of the Senate have said that a completely new bill will be written. Moderate Republican Senator Susan Collins stated, “The Senate is starting from scratch. We’re going to draft our own bill, and I’m convinced that we’re going to take the time to do it right.”

Senator Collins and Senator Bill Cassidy have already introduced a bill called the Patient Freedom Act. Their bill “keeps some of the consumer protections within Obamacare for people with pre-existing conditions while seeking to solve some of the flaws within the healthcare law.”

Democrats Criticize Lack of Women in Republican Group Working on Healthcare Reform

Republicans have created a group of 13 Senators to “craft a plan to pass legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.” Democratic Senators questioned why the group included no women, despite the number of women’s health issues involved in healthcare reform.

  • Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein: “Women’s health is a big part of this and women are a majority of the population, and their health interests deserve to be contemplated in any reform.”
  • Democratic Senator Patty Murray: “It matters to have women at the table—and it matters when they aren’t.”
  • Democratic Senator Kamala Harris: “The GOP is crafting policy on an issue that directly impacts women without including a single woman in the process. It’s wrong.”

Trump Relying on Senate to Improve Healthcare Bill

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told reporters that President Trump expects Senate Republicans to improve the healthcare reform bill. “Everyone is committed to getting this thing done and getting it done as soon as possible,” Priebus told Fox News. Trump also tweeted, adding pressure to the Senate, “Republican senators will not let the American people down!”

Former President Obama Pressures Senate to Preserve ACA

On Sunday night, Former President Barack Obama urged Congress to maintain the ACA (or Obamacare) and its patient protections. “I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what’s politically expedient, but doing what, deep in our hearts, we know is right,” Obama said. Obama also expressed his hope that Congress members “recognize it takes little courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential—but it takes some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm, those who often have no access to the corridors of power.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for May 5, 2017

Senators Likely to Alter House-Approved AHCA

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) has already indicated that the AHCA will be altered in the Senate. “We’re going to look at what the House has done and see how much of that we can incorporate in a product that works for us with reconciliation.”

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) supported his colleague’s statement, saying, “We’re writing a Senate bill and not passing the House bill. We’ll take whatever good ideas we find there that meet our goals.” Alexander also gave no hints about when a Senate bill would be ready. “There will be no artificial deadlines in the Senate. We’ll move with a sense of urgency but we won’t stop until we think we have it right.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gave a harsher statement against the House’s passage of the AHCA, noting the lack of a score from the Congressional Budget Office. “Like y’all, I’m still waiting to see if it’s a boy or a girl. Any bill that has been posted less than 24 hours, going to be debated three or four hours, not scored? Needs to be viewed with suspicion.”

House Passes Bill Removing AHCA Coverage Exemptions

Shortly after passing the AHCA, the House voted on a separate piece of legislation. This separate bill nullifies exemption language in the AHCA (which allows lawmakers and their staff to maintain coverage regardless of their states’ coverage changes). The bill is now with the Senate.

What’s Next for the American Health Care Act Bill?

Now that the AHCA has been approved by the House, it will go straight to the Senate. In order for the Senate to pass the bill by a simple majority (51 votes), the bill must follow the “Byrd Rule.” The rule dictates that, as a reconciliation bill, the AHCA can only alter budget-related provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, the bill cannot increase the federal deficit in the long term. Any provisions in the bill that are not budget-related can be rejected, and the Senate has the authority to completely alter the bill.

After the Senate has reviewed and potentially changed the bill, they will vote on it. If the bill passes, the House must review the Senate’s altered bill. The House can approve the Senate’s bill, or they can try to reconcile the differences between the two. In the latter case, the two chambers of Congress will create a bill that meets the needs of both chambers, and each will vote again on the final bill.

When a final bill has been approved by the House and the Senate, the bill goes to the President. Trump can accept the bill and sign it into law, or he can veto the bill.

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