No one’s interested in trying to save Obamacare’s centerpiece as it faces certain death.
Even as the healthcare industry heavily lobbies Republicans to keep the Affordable Care Act’s other main components, such as its subsidies and Medicaid expansion, doctors, hospitals and insurers are stepping away from the law’s individual mandate for people to buy insurance or pay a fine.
Not even Democrats are campaigning to keep the mandate, which was once viewed as the key to making Obamacare successful. The thought was that the mandate would prompt enough healthy young people to buy coverage to keep premiums stable. But nearly everyone agrees it didn’t work as well as intended. And repealing it is top of list for Republicans.
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Tom Price spent years railing against Obamacare. Now he’ll finally have sweeping power to do something about it.
The Georgia Republican congressman is on the verge of becoming the Trump administration’s top health care official, armed with broad authority to begin unwinding Obamacare by using as much executive power as possible, even as Congress struggles to find consensus on a plan to repeal and replace the health care law. First, he could ax Obamacare’s mandate ensuring coverage for contraception and give insurers more latitude to determine which health benefits they will — and won’t — pay for. Those changes will likely be paired with stricter monitoring of Obamacare enrollees, as the administration aims to win over jittery health plan executives with policies that prioritize insurance market predictability and profitability.
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On the question of what should be done about Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, Republicans should combine two ideas popular in their party: block grants and health savings accounts. The former would let states tailor their Medicaid policies to their local communities, while the latter would give enrollees the ability to choose their own insurers and providers. In essence, Washington could give the states Medicaid block grants, allocated per capita, to provide beneficiaries with high-deductible insurance and health savings accounts.
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ObamaCare could never have survived without forcing many more healthy Americans into the system to subsidize those benefiting from the program—exactly what the single-payer program Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton endorsed would have done. In scrapping ObamaCare, Republicans should be careful not to shoulder more than the objectives of finding a cost-efficient way to deal with pre-existing health problems, strengthening Americans’ ability to keep their insurance when they get sick or change jobs, and block-granting Medicaid to the states.
If they try to do more, they will be in danger of only changing the name of ObamaCare. They would then own a program that is detrimental to freedom, fiscal responsibility and economic growth.
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President Trump’s statement that his preferred replacement for the ACA would provide health “insurance for everybody” surprised those who have followed the contentious debate over the health care law since its passage in 2010. In recent years, though, Republicans have emphasized that gains in insurance coverage should not be the sole barometer by which health care reform is measured. Rather, the affordability of that coverage is the key to a better health care system with fewer uninsured Americans. For too long, Republicans have shied away from calling for “universal coverage” because they’ve equated it with the Democratic push for a government-run, single-payer health-care system. But that simply isn’t the case. Market-based reforms can both lower costs and lead to health insurance coverage for more Americans. Any market-based replacement to the ACA should: (1) Expand access to consumer-directed coverage arrangements such as health savings accounts coupled with high-deductible insurance plans; (2) Tailor government assistance to individual situations; (3) Give those with preexisting conditions access to mechanisms, such as properly funded high-risk pools, to help them both acquire and afford coverage; and (4) Allow for alternative pathways to private, tax-preferred coverage, by allowing health plans to be sold across state lines, as well as by giving unions, churches or other civic organizations the opportunity to offer coverage to members.
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A key House panel on Thursday debated the first draft legislation to replace Obamacare since Donald Trump became president, pledging to repeal his predecessor’s signature health care law.
The Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee discussed drafts of four bills which each address piecemeal issues within the larger Affordable Care Act, including how to deal with people who have pre-existing health conditions, how much more to charge seniors compared to young people, and how to spur people to keep continuous coverage throughout their lives.
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House Republicans on Wednesday highlighted changes to Medicaid in a series of bills that target eligibility, but got stiff pushback from Democrats who argue the GOP actually wants to cut federal aid to low-income Americans.
A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee examined three draft bills that would prevent lottery winners and illegal immigrants from getting Medicaid coverage. Another bill would close a loophole that allows couples to get Medicaid although their income and assets are beyond the threshold for eligibility.
Republicans argued the bills, introduced in earlier Congresses, are needed to reform an entitlement program that has used more and more federal funding.
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Everywhere you turn, health markets are nearing collapse. It’s an unfortunate and catastrophic reality of too much federal intervention in our health care. From soaring deductibles and skyrocketing premiums to fleeing insurers, it’s no wonder patients are paying more out of pocket each year under the so-called “Affordable Care Act.”
Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee will examine four legislative solutions to help deliver relief. Together, the bills will play an important role in being among the first bricks placed in the rebuilding of our health care system. Collectively, they will give patients relief from the law’s soaring costs, tighten enrollment gaps, and protect taxpayers.
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Part of why Obamacare is so unpopular is that it is neglects the typical American.
Obamacare is bad for the typical—or median—American for a variety of reasons, including: its unprecedented individual mandate; its inept manner of dealing with preexisting conditions, which has sent premiums soaring (by 40% over the past two years); its roughly $2 trillion price-tag (over a decade); and its consolidation and centralization of power and money at the expense of Americans’ liberty and their wallets. Rather than offering overdue tax breaks to everyone who buys his or her own health insurance, Obamacare instead gives direct subsidies to insurance companies (falsely labeled as “tax credits”) on behalf of the select few.
As Republicans deliberate over an alternative to Obamacare, this provides a huge opening. A more consumer-friendly system will go a long way towards reducing costs for all and bringing down overall health care spending.
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Insurers are generally confident they could manage the transition away from Obamacare and into a new replacement plan, according to a survey from the Urban Institute.
The group interviewed executives at 13 insurance companies participating in the individual market in 28 states to ask them how they would respond in various repeal scenarios proposed by the new administration. While all insurers said that uncertainty regarding the future of Obamacare is bad for business and for the stability of the individual market, they were confident they could manage policy changes. They also expressed optimism about a replacement plan that offered continuous coverage, which many Republican plans include.
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