Idaho is poised to allow a vote on Medicaid expansion after an activist group said it has collected enough signatures to put it on the November ballot.

Reclaim Idaho said it has collected the required 56,192 signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot. The deadline to turn in the signatures is Monday.

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Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that he will soon unveil a new Obamacare block-grant repeal proposal, arguing that the new plan will lower premiums and increase the number of people with health insurance.

Santorum, along with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), created a new Obamacare block grant repeal approach known as Graham-Cassidy. Graham-Cassidy almost garnered enough support to pass through the Senate last September. Now that Republicans have managed to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate, Republicans can capitalize on that momentum to fully repeal and replace Obamacare in 2018.

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Republicans should impose two parameters on any block-grant proposal

  1. States can be given enormous freedom to deviate from Obamacare, so long as people who come to the individual market after paying premiums for group insurance for many years can buy insurance that is similar to what employers offer for a similar premium. (I have previously described how I think this could be done.)
  2. States can offer limited benefit insurance(buying whatever the tax credit will buy and allowing auto-enrollment and potentially insuring an additional 30 million people) provided that they set aside safety net money to take care of the really expensive cases ($1 million premature baby, for example.)

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Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) is proposing to test automatically enrolling people in ObamaCare plans as a way to cut the uninsured rate.

Bera unveiled a bill that would give grants to states to set up pilot programs to automatically enroll eligible people in ObamaCare plans or Medicaid.

People would still have 60 days to opt-out if they wanted to, so they would not be forced to buy coverage, but Bera says the idea is that people are more likely to sign up if the default is to be signed up and they need to actively opt-out of coverage.

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Finally, we have good news on health care reform coming out of the nation’s capital.

In October 2017, President Trump issued an executive order calling for more consumer choices in the health insurance market. The departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury responded by taking aim at an Obama administration policy that severely limits the flexibility of a coverage option called “short-term, limited-duration insurance plans.”

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Americans have come down with single-payer fever. A whole 59% now back a national health plan, according to a March 2018 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll—way up from the 33% reported by the Pew Research Center in summer 2017.

But the American people don’t really understand what supporting a single-payer plan means. For instance, in October 2017, 47% believed they’d be able to keep their current health coverage if a single-payer plan were put into place, according to Kaiser.

They’re sorely mistaken. Bills that would launch a government takeover of the country’s health care sector are meandering through Congress and numerous statehouses across the country. Those measures would outlaw private insurance within a matter of years. If any of them pass, Americans will find themselves paying sky-high taxes for access—not to care but to a waiting list.

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What does a ruling about automobile financing have to do with Obamacare? As it turns out, plenty.

This week the Senate acted to repeal a piece of regulatory guidance the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued back in March 2013. As a Politico report Wednesday noted, that precedent allows Congress to nullify other regulatory actions the federal government took years ago—including those on Obamacare.

The Senate action regarding the CFPB guidance came pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

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There are periodic reports of conservative plotting to make one more push before the midterms, like this quote from conservative health-care think tank chief Grace-Marie Turner:

“Congress is going to have to come back to a full repeal-and-replace measure, and we have been working every week since October to refine this legislation at the behest of the Senate. (Former) Sen. Rick Santorum has really been the energy behind this effort,” said Turner, who also explained the other players in the effort.

“Heritage Foundation, Ethics and Public Policy Center, the American Enterprise Institute, a lot of state-based think tanks and a lot of experts from around the country have been putting together a proposal that we believe cannot only get majority support in the Congress but majority support of the American people to fix this for good,” Turner said.

. . .

Time and opportunity still exist to replace Obamacare.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., ought to make it a priority, and should make clear he is open to pushing through a budget resolution next month to make it happen.

It can’t happen without the budget resolution, because that’s the only way they can avoid a bill-killing filibuster and pass the healthcare reform with a bare majority of 50 votes (plus Vice President Mike Pence) in the Senate.

Here’s why and how it could still come together.

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There are already more than a dozen reasons people can use to avoid paying the penalty for not having health insurance. Now the federal government has added four more “hardship exemptions”. Under the new rules, people can apply for a hardship exemption that excuses them from having to have health insurance if they:

  • Live in an area where there are no marketplace plans.
  • Live in an area where there is just one insurer selling marketplace plans.
  • Can’t find an affordable marketplace plan that doesn’t cover abortion.
  • Experience “personal circumstances” that make it difficult for them to buy a marketplace plan, including not being able to find a plan in their area that gives them access to specialty care they need.

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