Healthcare Reform News Update for October 23, 2017
Schumer Asks for Floor Vote on ACA Stabilization Bill
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Sunday that the Alexander-Murray bipartisan healthcare stabilization bill has support from a majority of senators and asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a floor vote this week.
In defense of the bill, Schumer said: “It will pass. It will pass by a large number of votes. That’ll put pressure on the House because let’s not forget what this bill does is prevent premiums from going up.”
McConnell said he will be “happy to bring a bill to the floor” only if he knows that President Donald Trump is willing to sign it.
Healthcare Reform News Update for October 20, 2017
Study: ACA Helped Increase Insurance Coverage for Cancer Patients
New research published in JAMA Oncology showed that the passage of the Affordable Care Act helped increase health insurance coverage for people diagnosed with cancer, especially in states that expanded Medicaid.
Compared to the years prior to the ACA becoming law, the study found that:
- The law reduced newly diagnosed uninsured cancer patients overall by one-third.
- States that expanded Medicaid reduced the number of uninsured cancer patients by 50 percent.
- The percentage of uninsured patients fell for each type of cancer reported.
- Breast cancer: 26 percent
- Prostate cancer: 29 percent
- Lung, bronchial, or thyroid cancer: almost 33 percent
- Uninsured white patients fell 37 percent, blacks fell by 18 percent, and Latinos fell by 40 percent.
Bipartisan Stabilization Bill Formally Introduced
Twelve Republicans and 12 Democrats helped formally announced the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017, the bill put together by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to stabilize the Obamacare marketplace.
The bill will extend cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers for two years and allow states to waive some ACA regulations.
Republicans aren’t expected to bring the bill up for a vote without approval from President Donald Trump, whose support has been unclear.
On Thursday, Marc Short, a senior White House aide, said that Trump wouldn’t sign off on the bill unless mandates and taxes were rolled back and more emphasis was put on health-savings accounts. “We’re willing to work on this but we need to make sure that we’re getting something that will actually reduce healthcare costs,” Short said.
GOP Senators Ask for Conservative Changes to Healthcare Bill
Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Bill Cassidy (LA) said Thursday they were working to add more “flexibility provisions” to the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act.
The pair hope to add some of the conservative changes they had included in their own healthcare bill that failed last month, including waiving the individual mandate penalty, increasing the duration of short-term health plans, and not requiring employers to provide health coverage.
Senate Democrats Challenge Contraception Executive Order
Nineteen Democrats in the Senate have endorsed a bill that that would overturn President Trump’s recent executive order that expands the rules that exempt employers from providing birth control coverage if they cite a religious or moral objection. Four Democrats in the House will present a similar bill.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was one of the signers. “President Trump wants to make birth control about ideology, but let’s be clear: for women and their families in the 21st century, birth control is about being healthy and financially secure—and that’s why Democrats are going to keep fighting back against his shameful attacks on women with this bill and any other way we can,” she said.
Healthcare Reform News Update for October 19, 2017
ACA Stabilization Effort Falters, Could Appear in Year-End Spending Package
The Senate’s latest bipartisan healthcare deal, which would continue cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, has lost its chances of approval—a day after it was announced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA).
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) says he won’t support the measure. President Donald Trump opposes the bill but has not specified if he would veto it. Their opposition could force the issue to be addressed in an end-of-year spending package.
Many GOP lawmakers contend that they will have to address instability on the exchanges, which was exacerbated last week by Trump’s move to end the subsidies that help insurers pay low-income individuals’ out-of-pocket costs.
18 States, D.C. File Emergency Order to Reinstate Subsidies
A week after filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration for cutting off cost-sharing reduction subsidies, the same 18 states and the District of Columbia issued an emergency temporary order on Wednesday to try to immediately continue the payments. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said he expects to hold a hearing early next week.
Governors Ask for Healthcare Vote
Ten bipartisan governors sent a joint letter to Congress voicing their approval of funding cost-sharing reduction payments through 2019. “We urge Congress to quickly pass legislation to stabilize our private health insurance markets and make quality health insurance more available and affordable,” the governors wrote.
The governors include: John Kasich (R-OH), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Steve Bullock (D-MT), Bill Walker (I-AK), Tom Wolf (D-PA), Brian Sandoval (R-NV), Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), John Bel Edwards (D-LA), Charlie Baker (R-MA), and Phil Scott (R-VT).
Healthcare Reform News Update for October 18, 2017
Bipartisan ACA Deal Announced; President’s Approval Unclear
Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) unveiled their long-negotiated measure to help stabilize the Obamacare marketplace. It reinstates the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies to insurers that President Donald Trump halted last week.
Under the bipartisan agreement, the CSRs would continue for two years while states are given more leeway in coverage requirements, including revising regulations for state waiver applications and allowing insurers to offer catastrophic copper plans to people over 30, while maintaining a single risk pool.
Trump appeared to show his support for the measure Tuesday morning, calling the deal “a very good solution.” However, he grew skeptical later in the day, saying “I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.”
Republican Senators John McCain (AZ) and Lisa Murkowski (AK)—who were integral in the failure of the two repeal-and-replace bills earlier this year—praised the agreement. Other Republican leaders have not shown that they would back the bill, and approval is not assured.
GOP Senators Propose Relaxing ACA Individual Mandate Requirements
Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced legislation that would exempt some people from Obamacare’s mandate that requires most Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a financial penalty.
In a joint statement, the senators said they wanted to help working-class individuals. “Nearly 80 percent of the Americans who paid the individual-mandate penalty in 2016 earned less than $50,000.”
The measure would exempt:
- People who earn less than the national median household income.
- People who live in states where the insurance premiums increased an average of more than 10 percent.
- People in counties with a single insurer on the exchange.
Poll Shows Support for Healthcare Executive Order
A new Morning Consult/Politico poll showed that more than half of voters expressed approval of Trump’s executive order to allow businesses to form groups to offer low-cost health insurance but are divided on its impact. Poll findings include:
- 52 percent approve of association health plans (AHPs)
- 39 percent think AHPs will lower premiums
- 46 percent would be unlikely to switch to a lower cost, less generous plan
- 36 percent think costs for health insurance will likely rise