This month, Senate Republicans are taking up their approach to replacing, revising, or perhaps just renaming the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Work will speed up later this week, after the Senate receives the Congressional Budget Office’s latest scoring of the fiscal entrails left by the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the House on May 4.

. . .

GOP senators say they’re discussing a possible short-term bill if their health care talks drag on. It might include money to help stabilize shaky insurance markets with subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-earning people and letting states offer less expensive policies.

It’s unclear Democrats would offer their needed cooperation, but Republicans are talking about it.

“We’ve discussed quite a bit the possibility of a two-step process,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “In 2018 and ’19, we’d basically be a rescue team to make sure people can buy insurance.”

. . .

House Republicans may face the possibility of having to vote again on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House earlier this month. House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates its effects. House leaders want to make sure the bill conforms with Senate rules for reconciliation, a mechanism that allows Senate Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority. The CBO is expected to release an updated estimate next week.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House earlier this month, is a health care revolution. It isn’t about returning to the way things were. It’s about asking the country to imagine a system that has never existed before. Instead of offering a plan centered on Washington, D.C., the AHCA is centered on you. It empowers you and respects your relationship with your family and your doctor. It delivers to you increased access, benefits, choices and health savings. The opposition has been so intense precisely because the plan is so ambitious. One bogus argument government elites are using is the claim that thousands of Americans with pre-existing conditions will die if the AHCA becomes law. Actually, the bill includes “continuous coverage” protections for people with pre-existing conditions. For anyone with continuous coverage, pre-existing conditions do not apply.

. . .

More than a dozen states and the District of Columbia filed a motion on Thursday to intervene in the appeal of a lawsuit targeting the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies. The lawsuit was originally brought by the U.S. House of Representatives against the Obama administration, which the Trump administration must now deal with. The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated that the average premiums for silver plans sold on the ACA exchanges would increase by about 19% to compensate for insurers’ lack of funding without the CSR payments. The Trump administration and the House are set to update the court on Monday on how they plan to proceed with the case.

. . .

Those advocating for universal health coverage know very well that resources are limited, and that costs must be contained. They also understand that the burgeoning bureaucracy must be well paid. So the answer is to cut services. Some plans “incentivize” doctors to make more money by skimping on care. Others call for a “global budget”—the deliberate creation of scarcity. When the money is gone, treatment is canceled. There will be fewer beds, fewer CT scanners, fewer drugs, and fewer doctors. But all will be fair. No rationing by price, just by waiting lines, political pull—and death. There will be no medical bills to pay after a service, if you get any service. Only taxes in advance, service or no service.

. . .

The Trump administration took another step Wednesday toward deregulating federal insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act.

For coverage in 2018, consumers can buy an ACA-approved plan directly from a broker or an insurer’s website instead of having to go through HealthCare.gov, the CMS announced. The news comes just two days after small businesses were given permission to skip the federal marketplace to sign their employees up for SHOP coverage.

. . .

Now that the House of Representatives passed a revised version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the ball is in the Senate’s court.  Despite calls to start from scratch, the Senate would be well advised to work off the structure of the AHCA. AHCA provides a solid foundation that could be improved with some tweaks. It repeals the ACA’s unpopular individual and employer mandates and penalties but preserves its well-liked protections for people with pre-existing conditions, the ban on lifetime coverage caps, coverage for children up to age 26 on their parents’ insurance and coverage of essential health benefits.

. . .

Large employers are reexamining health care delivery systems and are looking for a more competitive marketplace, according to a new paper from the American Health Policy Institute. With health care policy front page news, it should be noted that the federal government is not the only institution taking a hard look at the subject and deciding whether changes are merited. Large employers who provide health care benefits to more than 170 million Americans are also reexamining current delivery systems. The paper illustrates longstanding concerns of large employers that have been intensified by the debate on the ACA, such as the lack of strong tools providing purchasers and consumers of health care with the information they need to evaluate the quality, cost, and effectiveness of the services being provided.

. . .

 

The Trump administration is examining whether it’s legally permissible to keep funding Obamacare subsidies for low-income people, but “there’s a desire” to include them in the Republican health-care bill, a top White House health-care adviser told Bloomberg BNA.

The individual market won’t be stable unless Congress passes the Republicans’ American Health Care Act, Brian Blase, special assistant to the president in the National Economic Council, said in a May 12 interview with Bloomberg BNA. Anthem Inc., a major carrier in the Affordable Care Act exchanges, told White House officials that large premium increases it has requested for 2018 are based on the assumption that the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies will be paid, Blase said.

. . .