Sen. Graham told Breitbart News, “If the reports are true that the Republican leadership is abandoning the promise to repeal Obamacare, it’s a huge mistake not only in the short term, but also the long run. There’s only unpardonable sin in politics, and that’s to stop trying to fulfill a promise.”
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President Trump’s State of the Union address left some declaring that he has “thrown in the towel” on repealing Obamacare. But conversations I’ve had with people in the Trump White House make clear that health care, including Obamacare, remains front-and-center for this administration.
Recently, I spoke with Andrew Bremberg, Director of the President’s Domestic Policy Council, about Trump’s health care agenda for 2018. His view—and his boss’s view—is that the Trump administration has done more than people appreciate on Obamacare, and on health care more broadly. On health care, Trump’s “policy direction is more robust and substantive than some people understand,” Bremberg said.
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Congressional Republicans were elected to repeal Obamacare. They may run this year as the politicians who saved it. Since late last year, GOP leaders have been planning to pump tens of billions of dollars’ worth of new federal spending into the veins of insurance companies that are hemorrhaging red ink on the Obamacare exchanges.
The transfusion is expected to be a concoction of two bills. The first, championed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D., Wash.), would appropriate cost-sharing-reduction payments to insurers. The second, sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R., Maine) and Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), would give insurers an additional $10 billion (and perhaps more) in federal cash.
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Americans are among the most generous people in the world. While this nation was founded on the pursuit of a shared dream, the moral pledge of the American people has been to never leave behind our most vulnerable fellow citizens.
When we created Medicaid in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, we formalized that commitment and wove a fabric of care that has provided health services for seniors in need, pregnant mothers, low-income children and parents, and people with disabilities. Johnson affirmed the nation’s safety net, saying, “Our aim is not only to relieve the symptoms of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.”
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Obamacare’s insurance rules represent the beating heart of the law, necessitating a massive system of subsidies and tax increases to make this newly expensive coverage “affordable.” Because Democrats used the “Biden precedent” to impose some of those rules through budget reconciliation, Republicans have every opportunity to repeal these requirements outright through a reconciliation bill. They should take that opportunity, for removing the regulatory regime would effectively repeal Obamacare—and permanently restore health care freedom to the American people.
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- HHS on Friday released a report touting its 2017 accomplishments, including regulatory rollbacks and cost savings.
- The 37-page report highlighted some actions that are priorities for the Trump administration, but which have sharply divided the healthcare industry. It said 70 regulatory actions were withdrawn last year and more than $3 billion was recovered through efforts to stop waste, fraud and abuse.
- It also pointed to a final rule that cuts hospital payments from the 340B Drug Pricing Program, saying it will save $3.2 billion. Hospitals fiercely oppose the cut and are challenging the rule in court.
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Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration failed to fulfill their commitment to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2017, but they did succeed in repealing the tax penalties enforcing the law’s individual mandate, starting in 2019.
The GOP still might try again to fully repeal and replace the ACA in 2018, perhaps with a modified version of the Graham-Cassidy legislation. However, with Republicans now down to a 51-seat majority in the Senate and some House and Senate members facing difficult mid-term elections this November, it will be even more challenging to get a sweeping rollback of the ACA through Congress in 2018 than it was in 2017.
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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Wednesday said Republicans needed to “finish the job” on repealing and replacing Obamacare in 2018, and he is pushing his colleagues to use one last reconciliation bill before the midterms to deliver on their long-running promise.
In a meeting with the Washington Examiner in his Senate offices, Cruz said he has had long conversations with the Republican senators who blocked legislation last time around, and still thinks they can get something across the finish line. He also said there has been talk of asking the Congressional Budget Office to rescore repeal legislation now that the individual mandate is off the books, which is expected to drive down the CBO’s estimate of the number of individuals who would be uninsured under Republican legislation.
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Several House Republicans said two bipartisan Obamacare stabilization bills need to include more reforms in order to get support in the House.
The comments came the same day that some senators said a deal to end a three-day government shutdown provides a new opportunity to approve the two bills. The comments highlight the same struggle that has plagued the two bills: While the Senate GOP leadership and President Trump are on board with passage, the House is not.
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Congress is apparently not done cutting taxes, even after passing a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul last year.
The deal struck by Democrats and Republicans on Monday to end a brief government shutdown contains $31 billion in tax cuts, including a temporary delay in implementing three health-care-related taxes.
Those delays, which enjoy varying degrees of bipartisan support, are not offset by any spending cuts or tax increases, and thus will add to a federal budget deficit that is already projected to increase rapidly as last year’s mammoth new tax law takes effect.
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