News Update for March 6, 2017
Newest Version of House Obamacare Replacement Bill Leaked Again
Last Friday, Politico was able to obtain leaked documents outlining the latest version of the House’s Obamacare replacement bill. This is the second Obamacare replacement bill proposal to be leaked in the span of a month.
- Tax credits based on age, but it wouldn’t allow wealthier Americans to qualify for the tax credits. No specific cut-offs have been proposed yet though.
- Eliminating many of Obamacare’s taxes.
- Extending the lifetime of health plans that pre-existed Obamacare that don’t meet many of the law’s requirements.
- Creating a “reinsurance” fund for states to help shore up the individual health insurance market. The bill would grant states the ability to reimburse insurance companies from the fund if medical claims of covered individuals are between $50,000 and $350,000.
Healthcare Executives Worried About Trump Administration’s Changes to Obamacare and Healthcare Industry
Healthcare industry CEOs are, according to a survey by Modern Healthcare, nervous about many things they believe will result in major changes to the healthcare industry. The survey, which contacted 110 CEOs and received 81 responses, shows that more than 75% of the respondents do not support a repeal of the Affordable Care Act “with a phaseout period and a promise of a replacement.” Many CEOs “fervently hope Republicans move deliberately and thoughtfully, and preserve affordable coverage for the 20 million people who obtained insurance under the ACA.” According to Catherine Jacobson, the CEO of Froedtert Health, “Any drop-off in coverage falls 100% on health systems, because we’re the ones who pay in terms of bad debt and charity care.”
The survey shows CEO opinions on a wide variety of healthcare concerns. You can read more here.
Conservative Activist Groups to Launch Campaigns to Pressure Republicans on Obamacare Repeal
Conservative activist groups, many of which can be traced back to the billionaire Koch brothers, are about to launch a campaign called “You Promised.” The campaign seeks to strongly pressure GOP lawmakers into repealing Obamacare, as the GOP has been running on the idea of Obamacare repeal for years. Many Republican lawmakers are worried that they’ll lose their seats in Congress since backing the law’s repeal might prove unpopular to their constituents, particularly, but not exclusively, in swing districts and swing states.
Older Americans Are Continuing to Voice Their Concerns About Obamacare Repeal
AARP and other representatives of America’s elder community “are bombarding congressional offices with objectionsas two House committees” are planning to vote on Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill. They are worried over insurance premium increases of 20 to 25 percent or higher. The Affordable Care Act prevents older Americans from being charged more than 3 times what younger insurance enrollees are charged. The House bill could possibly allow premiums to be 5 times higher. Some states could choose to charge even more than that.
The proposal could have “a severe impact on Americans age 50 to 64 who have not yet become eligible for Medicare,” said David M. Certner, the legislative policy director of AARP. In the meantime, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price stated on Sunday that he and the White House would stand firm behind not cutting Medicare.
News Update for March 3, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan Plans Vote on Obamacare Replacement Bill for Later This Month
House Speaker Paul Ryan is feeling more and more confident about getting an Obamacare replacement bill passed through the House of Representatives. In a closed-door meeting on Thursday, Ryan said he expects a vote on an Obamacare replacement bill to occur sometime in the next 3 weeks, according to various sources who attended the meeting.
At a press conference on Thursday, Ryan stressed Republican unity on the progress for repeal and replace so far. Despite concerns from conservative Republicans over the GOP leadership’s insistence on refundable tax credits, Ryan said the GOP is “in sync – the House, the Senate and the Trump administration, because this law is collapsing.” Privately, many Republicans are stressing that “they have no problem steamrolling conservatives by daring them to vote against” the bill.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is much more apprehensive about the Senate. McConnell told reporters, “The goal is for the administration, the House and the Senate to be in the same place. We’re not there yet.”
Senate Republicans Opting Not to Write Their Own Bill, Taking Up House’s Obamacare Bill Instead
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) told the media on Thursday that Senate Republicans would wait on the House’s upcoming Obamacare repeal bill rather than creating one on their own. “The goal is for the House to pass a bill that we can then take up and pass here in the Senate,” Cornyn said. If the Senate were to decide to change the House bill, it would have to be sent back to the House for the House to pass again before returning the bill back to the Senate. Although much of the media’s coverage on Obamacare is focused on House Republicans and their difficulties unifying around an Obamacare replacement plan, Senate Republicans themselves might face some difficulty in regard to unity when it comes time for them to vote.
Some Republicans Worried About Tying Obamacare Repeal with Planned Parenthood Defunding
Many Republicans, particularly more conservative ones, have pushed to defund Planned Parenthood for many years. Moderate Republicans are worried that conservatives will include measures to defund Planned Parenthood in an Obamacare replacement bill. “I, for one, do not believe that Planned Parenthood has any place in our deliberations on the Affordable Care Act,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Murkowski also added that she wouldn’t vote on any measure that would deny her constituents access to healthcare provided by Planned Parenthood. Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) believes that “healthcare reform is controversial and complex enough without Planned Parenthood. Why put it in? It makes this whole exercise more difficult.”
Trump’s CMS Pick Approved by Senate
On Thursday, the Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Seema Verma, who was confirmed on a 13-12 vote, “is the owner of SVC, a healthcare consulting firm” that “has helped redesign Medicaid programs in several states, including Indiana.” In this capacity, she worked closely with Vice President Mike Pence, who was then the governor of Indiana. Some Democrats have expressed concern about possible conflicts of interest that might have come up during her time working with the Indiana state government.
News Update for March 2, 2017
Republicans Are Working on a New, Top Secret Obamacare Replacement Draft
House Republicans are currently working on a new draft of an Obamacare repeal and replacement bill. The Republicans are being extremely secretive with the document, which is currently locked up in a “dedicated reading room” and can only be read by certain members and staff on the House Energy and Commerce panel. No copies are allowed outside of the room.
The heightened security is a response to last week, when a previous draft was leaked and widely panned by conservative House members. Today, Representative Chris Collins (R-NY) told the media, “The [new] draft is going to be available tomorrow for those of us on the health subcommittee to start poring through.”
GOP Infighting Is “How You Come Up With a Good Public Policy”
There has been some recent concern over the GOP’s seeming inability to find a compromise on an Obamacare replacement bill. In light of this, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) appeared on Fox & Friends to alleviate this concern. Rubio stated, “This notion that because there’s five different ideas about it, that’s a sign of weakness – is ridiculous.”The senator argued that it was “a good thing that there are a lot of different ideas” because it was a sign of a healthy debate that would result in better public policy.
New Study Indicates More and More Americans Are Having Trouble Paying for Their Insurance
- Around 43 percent of adults with health insurance are having difficulty affording their deductible. This is an increase from 34 percent from a comparable survey taken in 2015.
- Around 37 percent of adults say that they are having trouble affording their premiums. This is an increase of 27 percent.
- Around 31 percent of adults say they are having trouble paying for prescriptions and copays for doctor visits. This is an increase of 24 percent.
Many Community Clinics Fear Being Shut Down in Face of Obamacare Repeal
Coinciding with the implementation of Obamacare, 950 community health center sites have opened in the last 7 years. Much of the costs to open and maintain these community clinics are paid for through provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Many operators of these clinics are now worried about the futures of their clinics, which often provide healthcare services in parts of the country with large shortages of availability in service. “Between 2011 and 2015, local clinics across the country received $11 billion” through the Community Health Center Fund, one of Obamacare’s provisions, in order to maintain operations.
Congress, with bipartisan support, has extended funding before, most recently in 2015 in order to provide $7.2 billion. However, the funding is set to expire in September of this year, and, with so much of the Affordable Care Act up in the air, many people are worried.
News Update for March 1, 2017
President Outlines Five Major Components for Replacing Obamacare
In President Trump’s address to Congress last night, he laid out some key points in his plan to replace Obamacare. The outline for his plan includes:
- Making sure that “people with pre-existing health conditions are guaranteed ‘access’ to health insurance.”
- Giving tax credits to “people who buy their own health coverage” and expanding health savings accounts so that people can more easily design their own health insurance plans.
- Making sure states have “the resources and flexibility” to use Medicaid programs to help poor people with their healthcare concerns.
- Bringing “down the price of high-cost drugs” and lowering insurance costs with various legal reforms.
- “Creating a national insurance marketplace” that lets insurance companies sell plans across state lines.
New Study Shows Current ACA Replacement Plans, Compared to ACA, Will Lower Health Insurance Tax Credits for Consumers
The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new analysis estimating that health insurance tax credits in 2020 would, on average, be at least 36 percent lower under replacement plans proposed by Republicans than under Obamacare. The analysis states that the current tax credit for Obamacare exchange customers would rise from an average of $4,615 in 2020 to $6,648 in 2027. However, at least one ACA replacement plan would see a much slower rise in tax credits: from $2,957 in 2020 to $3,729 in 2027.
GOP Set to Hold Meeting to Discuss Obamacare Repeal Bill
Congressional Republicans are currently far from a consensus about how to repeal and replace Obamacare. The party’s reaction to the President’s speech last night has also highlighted differences between conservative and moderate Republicans, who are in disagreement over tax credits for people who pay for their own health coverage. Trump did not specify if the tax credits he supports will be refundable or nonrefundable, which is at the root of the disagreement among the factions of the GOP.
Other disagreements revolve around the nature of Medicaid expansion. “My concern is that we want to make sure none of these folks gets dropped. And I’m not fully convinced that what the House is working on can give me that assurance,” said Senator Shelley Capito (R-WV). Other Republicans, like Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, believe that voters “didn’t tell us to repeal [Obamacare] but keep the Medicaid expansion.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will hold a special meeting with Republican members of both houses of Congress on Wednesday in order to try to hash out an understanding.
Is Obamacare Tied to Early Retirement?
An article from The New York Times suggests that it might be harder for people to retire early if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. Many of Obamacare’s provisions helped prevent a phenomenon “called job lock — the need to maintain a job to get health insurance.” Many studies have shown that there was “evidence of job lock in the pre-Obamacare” years. Some suggest that if it wasn’t for job lock, there would be more job mobility and growth in business because people would be more likely to take risks and innovate.
News Update for February 28, 2017
Conservative Republicans Are Opposing a Leaked Obamacare Replacement Draft
Many conservative Republicans are now voicing their opposition to the draft of a recently leaked Obamacare replacement bill. Representative Mark Meadows, the conservative House Freedom Caucus chairman, and Representative Mark Walker, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, went on record Monday to say that they would vote against the bill. They believe the bill would increase government spending and that the bill’s tax credits will needlessly benefit wealthier Americans. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT) made a joint statement of opposition to the bill for the same reasons.
House Speaker Paul Ryan Insists He and the President Are United
President Trump’s recent proposal to slash domestic spending while preserving Social Security and Medicare sits at odds with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s life’s work. Ryan has been attempting to reform and cut entitlement spending, such as Social Security and Medicare, for the duration of his career. Many are wondering how the GOP can be reconciled over this fundamental difference in ideology. Ryan himself went on record on Tuesday to say that he and the president are united as they are working on reforming something else he sees as an entitlement: Obamacare.
Governors Believe Trump Administration Is Working on Its Own Obamacare Replacement Proposal
Last week, many congressional Republicans went on record to state that they believed the Trump administration would stand back and let Congress draft Obamacare replacement proposals. After meeting with the president at the White House on Monday, many governors, including Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R), are now working under the assumption that the Trump administration might be drafting its own plan.Governor McAuliffe said that Secretary of Health and Human Services told the governors that the Trump plan would be ready to be unveiled “within a few weeks.”
Health Insurance Companies More Optimistic About Health Insurance Industry After Meeting with Trump
CEOs from many health insurance companies attended a meeting with the President on Monday morning. The meetings allowed the CEOs to discuss their various concerns about the future of the Affordable Care Act and any of its possible replacements. Previously, insurance companies were hoping that the government could provide some assurance that subsidies to help pay for individual premiums would remain. Few details have emerged, but, after the meeting, many of the CEOs said “they were optimistic about the future of the healthcare landscape.”