At the 2017 Forbes Healthcare Summit, I interviewed Seema Verma, Administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, about her policy agenda. CMS is one of the most important agencies in the federal government, administering programs spending over a trillion dollars a year, including Obamacare.

Our discussion was wide-ranging. Verma spoke about fellow Indianan Alex Azar, President Trump’s nominee for the post of Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. She discussed her view of what CMS can do on drug pricing. She talked about the opioid crisis, and how to modernize the Medicare and Medicaid programs and empower patients to take charge of their own health care.

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters Tuesday that he expects most House Republicans will support repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate in tax legislation, as GOP senators did.

“We’ll be asking our members where do they want us to be on that position. I suspect there will be strong support,” he said.

The House-passed tax bill did not include repeal of the individual mandate, while the Senate bill did. The two chambers now must reconcile their versions of tax-reform legislation in a bicameral conference.

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A top House Republican said Democrats need to make concessions that make them “wince” in order to get a vote on two Obamacare stabilization bills.

The comments from Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., Monday comes less than a week after the two bills looked headed for passage in the Senate after a deal to get Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to support tax reform. But while President Trump and Senate GOP leadership gave support for the bills, such a commitment in the House has been lacking.

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Congress may have moved on from health care. The public has not.

With taxes and spending, debt and defense piled up on Congress’ extremely full plate this month, a new poll by POLITICO and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that Americans remain sharply focused on health care — but Republicans and Democrats aren’t looking at the same things.

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Senate Democrats who fret over the distributional effects of tax cuts should thank their GOP colleagues for giving them the chance this week to vote on repealing one of the most regressive taxes: the Obamacare tax on the uninsured.

This tax disproportionately falls on those with incomes less than $50,000, while exempting many households earning six-figure salaries. Many who qualify for subsidies will have to choose between paying the tax and buying policies that offer shabby coverage with onerous deductibles that could stick them with big medical bills.

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  • 65 percent of GOP respondents disapprove of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to have health insurance, from 51 percent in September.
  • Disapproval of the mandate increased from 49 percent to 54 percent among all respondents, largely because of sentiment among GOP voters.

Congress is headed for a showdown on whether to insert several pressing health measures in year-end bills, reviving partisan fights that threaten to derail Republicans’ goal to close out the year with a raft of legislative successes.

The looming health-care issues include funding for a children’s health program, the possible delay of certain taxes by the Affordable Care Act and the fate of a bipartisan plan to bolster fragile insurance markets.

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Legislation from the duo at the helm of the Senate health panel would do little to improve the number of uninsured individuals if the mandate created by the 2010 health law is repealed, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

A repeal of the mandate — which requires individuals to purchase insurance or pay a yearly fine — is currently included in the GOP bill to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she supports GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, the Alaska Republican wrote in an op-ed for a local newspaper Tuesday.

“I have always supported the freedom to choose,” Murkowski wrote in her op-ed for the Daily News-Miner, an Alaska newspaper. “I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy, in order to avoid being taxed.”

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The feature of Obamacare that is least liked by the public is the individual mandate. Under current law, people are required to have health insurance. If they don’t, they can be fined. For example, if you are not insured by an employer plan or a government program (such a Medicaid) you are legally required to buy insurance in the individual market. The type of insurance that is sold there is highly regulated and it probably costs twice as much as it should – or more.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post ran articles last Friday on how unattractive these policies are in some parts of the country. In Charlottesville, Virginia, for example, a family of four can pay $30,000 a year for coverage with a $14,400 deductible. That’s more than the family pays for its mortgage for insurance coverage that may not pay a single medical bill.

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