Everybody on Capitol Hill agreed: If anyone could break the deep-rooted partisan logjam over Obamacare in Congress, it was that deal-making duo Patty and Lamar. But in the end, it was Obamacare that broke their alliance.
Just seven months after Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) heralded the beginning of a new bipartisan era on health care following the collapse of Obamacare repeal efforts, their lofty ambitions ended in much the same way as every Obamacare-related negotiation over the last eight years — with claims of betrayal, warnings of political fallout and no progress toward bridging the deep divide over the nation’s health care system.
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Health-insurance premiums are likely to jump right before the November elections, a result of Congress’s omission of federal money to shore up insurance exchanges from its new spending package.
Lawmakers from both parties had pushed to include the funding in the $1.3 trillion spending law signed Friday, but they couldn’t agree on details. A battle has already begun over how to cast the blame for the expected rate increases.
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Support for single-payer health care has reached an all-time high, according to Gallup. Seven in 10 Democratic voters — and one in three Republicans — favor a government takeover of the health sector.
They should be careful what they wish for. Single-payer systems have failed everywhere they’ve been implemented, from the United Kingdom to Canada. Americans who fall for single-payer’s promise of “universal health coverage” at lower cost will instead find themselves facing long waits for subpar care.
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ObamaCare turns eight years old today. Some opponents had hoped to mark the occasion by giving supporters the birthday gift they’ve always wanted: a GOP-sponsored bailout of ObamaCare-participating private insurance companies. Fortunately, a dispute over subsidies for abortion providers killed what could have been the first of many GOP ObamaCare bailouts.
ObamaCare premiums have been skyrocketing. All indications are this will continue in 2019, with insurers announcing premium increases up to 32 percent or more just before this year’s mid-term elections. Some Republicans fear voters will punish them for the effects of a law every Republican opposed and most still want to repeal.
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On March 5, the Trump administration’s top health official told a conference of hospital executives to hurry up. Washington has spent more than a decade slowly nudging the medical industry away from treating health care as a volume commodity business, where more care is better, and toward incentives that reward improving patients’ health. In all that time, almost nothing has changed. “That transition needs to accelerate dramatically,” said Alex Azar, a former Eli Lilly and Co. executive who was confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services in January.
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Democrats revolted against this week’s spending package because the deal includes the 1970s Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds from subsidizing abortion. The left claims this is some new GOP initiative. But Hyde protections have long applied to: Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Indian Health Service, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the military health-care program Tricare, among others, as Republicans have pointed out. Such guarantees are standard for appropriations bills.
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When Republicans failed to repeal ObamaCare last year, it recalled the old line about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. That loss, however, should not be allowed to overshadow an important Republican success on health care. Millions of Medicare beneficiaries now get their coverage through private plans under Medicare Advantage—a quiet step forward that brings real benefits. To ensure continued progress, Republicans must resist the temptation to choose short-term savings over long-term reform.
Of the $88 billion HHS appropriation announced Wednesday night, not a penny is going toward Obamacare. Congress is however extending oversight requirements on HHS regarding its administration of the health exchanges.
Congressional leaders released the long-awaited $1.3 trillion, two-year spending omnibus after days of wrangling behind closed doors over contentious policies that included an embattled stabilization package for the individual market that would fund cost-sharing reduction payments and a $30 billion reinsurance pool.
The bill was passed late Thursday night.
Big news on the health-care policy front: Democrats appear to be converging on an actual agenda if they win in 2020.
This is, as Gaba describes it, more than just patching up Obamacare to make up for the damage done by Congress, states and design flaws in the original bill. It’s an upgraded version of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, it’s nowhere close to the various single-payer or “Medicare for all” proposals that liberals have been spending a lot of time talking about over the last two years.
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The Trump administration this month announced its own effort to update the Electronic Health Record systems, which disrupt the doctor-patient relationship. The government could do even more good by deregulating EHRs, establishing a free market for user-friendly products. Perhaps Amazon, through its partnership with JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway , could eventually do for medicine what it’s done for retail.
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