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House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) on Thursday said they are still talking about how long a transition period will last after Congress repeals Obamacare early next year.
“That’s all a matter of discussion, it’s what we’re talking about right now,” Price told reporters Thursday, adding that he hasn’t seen draft language of a budget resolution yet. Price has been named as President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead Health and Human Services.
“It’s just premature to suggest that we know exactly how long this transition is,” Ryan said separately to reporters on Thursday.
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Heritage Action is pushing Republicans to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act and not stop at the reconciliation bill passed last year, which would have left some vital pieces of the law intact, such as the requirement that all people buy health insurance.
The conservative group, which is linked to the Heritage Foundation, released a memo Monday calling last year’s repeal effort “a floor, not a ceiling” for what a Republican Congress can do. The paper says it’s critical Republicans repeal all insurance mandates in the coming reconciliation package, including those that didn’t make it into the version that was ultimately vetoed by President Obama.
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U.S. health insurers signaled Tuesday that they’re willing to give up a cornerstone provision of Obamacare that requires all Americans to have insurance, replacing it with a different set of incentives less loathed by Republicans who have promised to repeal the law.
Known as the “individual mandate,” the rule was a major priority for the insurance industry when the Affordable Care Act was legislated, and also became a focal point of opposition for Republicans. In a position paper released Tuesday — the first since President-elect Donald Trump’s victory — health insurers laid out changes they’d be willing to accept.
“Replacing the individual mandate with strong, effective incentives, such as late enrollment penalties and waiting periods, can help expand coverage and lower costs for everyone,” AHIP said.
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An Obamacare repeal resolution will be the first item the Senate votes on next year, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, underscoring the GOP’s commitment to repealing the law even as its replacement plan remains unclear.
McConnell told reporters that repealing Obamacare would be “the first item up in the new year,” and the Kentucky Republican that he would like to “get Democratic cooperation” during the difficult process of replacing “a very, very controversial law.”
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A big question facing Republicans next year is how to pass a national healthcare reform law without taking a beating on Election Day.
Obamacare has been implemented, and 20 million Americans have health insurance through the law. That means Republicans have to figure out how they will keep their promise to repeal Obamacare without angering the people who already receive coverage from the law.
It’s a critical question for the GOP, as a matter of policy and politics, and they know from beating Democrats across the country how an unpopular healthcare bill can poison a lawmaker’s re-election chances.
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The worm is about to turn in health policy and politics when Republicans shift from throwing stones to owning the problems of the health system and the Affordable Care Act or its replacement, as President Barack Obama and Democrats have for the past eight years. It’s hard to predict how events will play out, but it’s likely that grand plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, convert Medicaid to a “block grant” program, and transform Medicare into a premium support program could be whittled down or delayed as details of such sweeping changes, and their consequences, become part of the debate.
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Incoming Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is now assisted, instead of annoyed, by the big, executive powers granted by Obamacare.
As Price takes the helm at HHS, he will succeed Obama appointees he had sharply criticized for taking wide latitude in implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Now that the tables have turned, and Republicans hold the White House, Price will have the ability to reverse, rewrite or do away with dozens of rules and guidance spelling out exactly how individuals, businesses, health providers, insurers and states should comply with the healthcare law’s many requirements.
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Republicans are pitching Obamacare “repeal and delay”—the idea of quickly repealing the ACA, but leaving it in place for three years as they craft a replacement. But one key health care expert threw cold water on that idea. Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, warned the strategy could send the market into “death throes.” He argues that to stabilize the insurance market and ensure that health insurers don’t flee is for the federal government to guarantee to cover their losses. But the politics of that aren’t easy because it would mean funding the three R’s— (risk adjustment, reinsurance, and risk corridors, all programs that subsidize insurance carriers that have significant losses.)
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Republicans on Capitol Hill are grappling with the likelihood that they will need Democratic support to pass parts of any plan replacing the Affordable Care Act, setting up a complex legislative battle over the law’s future.
President-elect Donald Trump is expected in his first days in office to take executive action voiding parts of the health law that the administration has discretion to change. Soon after that, lawmakers likely would start on their efforts to repeal and replace the law.
With full control of Congress and the White House, Republicans have anticipated being able to repeal the law using a special budget maneuver that would allow them to get around a filibuster by Democrats in the Senate.
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