Transition relief allowing the creation of ObamaCare-exempt individual markets is only one step toward solving the country’s many health care problems. The broader debate over replacing ObamaCare and reforming the health care system will continue for some time. But these early moves by President Trump’s executive actions are crucial to providing ObamaCare’s hardest hit victims quick relief. States and insurance companies should move with the same urgency that the Trump administration has shown. It’s time to allow the choices that people want also to be the choices they have.

. . .

In the tradition of departing presidents, Barack Obama left a letter for incoming President Donald Trump.

The thrust of the message, which Trump relayed to congressional leaders during their White House meeting Monday evening, was a plea to salvage ObamaCare — or swap it for something at least as generous.

“I haven’t seen the letter,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who attended the meeting, told reporters Tuesday. “But President Obama correctly … stated that, ‘Look, we believe the Affordable Care Act is a very important piece of legislation which has given Americans better health, better access, more reliability. And if you have a bill … that improves upon all this, well, you know, maybe I could support it.”

. . .

Even as the individual mandate is about to be killed off (Congress is poised to reduce its penalty to $0, thereby effectively repealing it), some center-right policy wonks and politicians are trying to give life to a new idea that might be even worse—”auto-enrollment.”

Here’s how it would work: If an American citizen were made eligible for a tax credit for health insurance, but chose not to use it, the government could then “auto-enroll” that citizen in a health insurance policy of the government’s choosing. It would use the “tax credit” to pay for it. This is a terrible idea on its face, but here are five specific reasons why it is so:

1. It is paternalistic.
2. It would be a free-for-all for cronyism.
3. It would be very expensive.
4. It would feature federal spending that’s masquerading as tax cuts.
5. It would raise premiums.

. . .

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday mapped out the GOP’s 200-day legislative strategy, saying Republicans will repeal and replace portions of ObamaCare by spring and tackle tax reform before the August recess.

During a private meeting of House and Senate Republicans at their annual policy retreat, Ryan said House committees will mark up a reconciliation package in the next couple of weeks that will both repeal President Obama’s healthcare law and replace portions of it, according to several lawmakers in the room.

Then, Ryan will bring the final reconciliation package to the House floor by late February or early March.

. . .

As the 115th Congress begins, I am honored to assume a new role as Interim Chair of the House Budget Committee.

It is an exciting opportunity, particularly as the first woman to fill the position, but more than any title before my name, I’m still most proud of the two letters that follow: “R.N.”

I graduated from nursing school in 1971 and still keep my license today. Those years on the front lines of patient care, primarily in emergency room settings, inform much of the work I do in Congress – especially when it comes to ObamaCare.

It’s no secret that Congressional Republicans aren’t keen on former President Obama’s health care law (of course, recent polling shows that a majority of Americans still aren’t either) but, for me, the debate has never been about politics. It’s personal.

. . .

The provision was buried deep in a 1,000-page bill that Congress passed in December by large bipartisan majorities. Most lawmakers probably didn’t know it was there. Yet it is the start of an answer to the biggest question on Washington’s mind: What to do about ObamaCare?

The 21st Century Cures Act, which President Obama signed Dec. 13, focuses mainly on helping patients obtain breakthrough drugs and medical devices. But it also includes provisions that will give small employers—those with fewer than 50 workers—more flexibility in the insurance marketplace. As Republicans debate how to replace ObamaCare, giving that same flexibility to all employers would be a perfect place to start.

. . .

President Trump told Fox News last week that when it comes to ObamaCare, “we’re going to have a plan that’s going to be great for people.”

What that plan will actually be, though, remains unclear.

Trump has said that he will put forward an ObamaCare replacement plan shortly after Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) is confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services, an announcement that caught lawmakers off guard.

. . .

The executive order President Trump signed on Friday does not have any immediate policy effect, but it does call attention to the wide range of administrative actions that a Trump administration could take to change the Affordable Care Act—all without legislation from Congress.

We’ve compiled a list of those actions. It’s not exhaustive; there is a lot more a Trump administration could do. Nor do we mean to suggest that these actions would be legal. Declining to enforce the individual mandate, in particular, would be problematic, although the Trump administration might seek cover from dubious enforcement decisions made by the Obama administration (like the “like it, keep it” fix and employer mandate delays).

. . .

Two Republican senators on Monday introduced a plan under which states could choose to maintain the Obamacare exchanges or overhaul the program.

The proposal from Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Susan Collins (Maine) would allow state capitols to decide whether to maintain the Affordable Care Act or to launch a new plan that would automatically enroll people not covered by an employer, Medicare or Medicaid in a plan.

Under their plan, known as the Patient Freedom Act, states could opt to continue receiving federal premium tax credits, cost-sharing subsidies and Medicaid dollars as they have under the ACA, or enact a new system under which states would receive funds through advanceable, refundable tax credits or per beneficiary grants. Patients would receive funding directly through a health savings account.

. . .

About 27 percent of people under 65 are thought to have some sort of pre-existing condition that will most likely leave them without individual insurance if the law is repealed, according to a recent study. The guarantee of coverage has already become a rallying cry for people who want to keep the law.

The issue “is the third rail” for the Republicans, said Michael Turpin, a longtime health industry executive.

Before the law, a fairly typical life event — like a divorce or the loss of a job — and a relatively minor medical condition could upend a person’s health coverage options. Stories of sick people unable to get coverage when they needed it most were legion.

. . .