Suppose you wanted to sabotage Obamacare and could not get Congress to help. Short of repeal legislation, the next best strategy would be to cut off funds to health insurers—in other words, starve the beast. That should work, right?
Surprisingly not, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Responding to a request from House Democrats, CBO considered what could happen to health coverage, insurance premiums, and taxpayer cost if the federal government stopped paying insurers for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). Under CBO’s scenario, the federal government would stop making payments to insurers totaling $118 billion between 2018 and 2026. As a result, the federal deficit would rise (not fall) by $194 billion, low-income individuals would pay about the same (not more) for coverage, and more people (not fewer) would be insured.
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Democrats are ready to go on the health care offensive. And Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) may have a new plan for them to do it.
In an interview with Vox, Schatz revealed that he’s preparing a new bill that could grant more Americans the opportunity to enroll in Medicaid by giving states the option to offer a “buy-in” to the government program on Obamacare’s exchanges.
His proposal would expand the public health insurance program from one that covers only low-income Americans to one open to anyone seeking coverage, depending on what each state does.
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Andy Thorburn, a health insurance executive who is plugging $2 million into a bid to replace Rep. Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.), is the latest Democrat pushing the party to embrace single-payer health care — even in swing districts. In a video announcement, Thorburn paints the contest as a referendum on health care, between a Republican who voted for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a Democrat who wants to move, eventually, to “Medicare for all.”
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A fast-approaching deadline for insurers to commit to selling health plans next year under the Affordable Care Act is pressuring Republican lawmakers to decide quickly whether to shore up the law and ease the path for insurers or continue efforts to roll it back.
Lawmakers returning to the Capitol from recess on Sept. 5 will have only 12 legislative days to decide whether to pass a bipartisan bill aimed at bolstering the ACA’s markets before insurers must commit to participating in the law’s exchanges in 2018. At the same time, a plan from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R., La.) that would largely topple most of the ACA is gaining traction among Republicans.
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A majority of the public (57 percent) want to see Republicans in Congress work with Democrats to make improvements to the 2010 health care law, while smaller shares say they want to see Republicans in Congress continue working on their own plan to repeal and replace the ACA (21 percent) or move on from health care to work on other priorities (21 percent). However, about half of Republicans and Trump supporters would like to see Republicans in Congress keep working on a plan to repeal the ACA.
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Like the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) or not, it’s impossible to deny that many exchanges — and consumers — are facing down a crisis. According to HHS, the number of participating insurers is down 38 percent this year. Just this month, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield announced it was leaving Nevada’s exchanges, and insurance companies nationwide are struggling with uncertainty over whether the Trump administration will pay out billions in expected federal subsidies.
Most worrisome is that the individual market itself appears to be shrinking, and 2.4 million Americans will have only one available insurance option. Average rate increases are, for the second straight year, expected to be in the double-digit range in 2018.
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Conservatives in the House hope to revive the failed effort to gut the Affordable Care Act with a long-shot drive to force Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to hold a vote to simply repeal the health-care law without a replacement. Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus want to seize control of the health-care debate by petitioning Republicans to hold a vote on a version of a repeal bill that passed the House in 2015.
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The collapse of the Senate’s repeal-and-replace effort does not mean that Congress should give up on health reform. Health costs are spiraling upward because of Obamacare. The American people need relief.
Congress must give it to them, even if it has to do so in piecemeal fashion. Together with some strategic executive actions from the Trump administration, a more gradual plan of attack would achieve far more than “skinny” repeal could have hoped to.
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The conservative House Freedom Caucus on Friday is planning a move to try and force a vote on an ObamaCare repeal bill.
A spokeswoman for the group said members plan to file a “discharge petition,” which would force a vote on a repeal bill if it gets signatures from a majority of the House.
The move is usually used to go around leadership and try to bring up a measure to the floor for a vote.
The plan comes as the Freedom Caucus, and some other Republicans, are pushing to keep the repeal effort alive, despite the Senate’s failed vote last month.
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