The incoming Senate Democratic leader says his party won’t help Republicans with a new health reform plan down the road if they repeal Obamacare without an immediate replacement.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, who will replace retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in January, said Republicans will have to “own” the situation if they ditch the healthcare law but don’t immediately come up with a way to replace it.

“We’re not going to do a replacement,” Schumer said of his caucus. “If they repeal without a replacement, they will own it. Democrats will not then step up to the plate and come up with a half-baked solution that we will partially own. It’s all theirs.”

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President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to name Georgia Rep. Tom Price as the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services gives us a good idea of how Republicans will repeal Obamacare. Price, a doctor, understands both health care and policy. He introduced his own Obamacare replacement plan in 2013 and updated it in 2015.

Price’s plan, which seeks to create a consumer-driven health care model and is already in legislative language, is very similar to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” health care reform outline released earlier this year. All of which means the Price plan will likely provide the framework for the Republican plan.

The three main components of the Price bill are: 1. Provide tax credits for those without employer coverage, 2. A solution for those with preexisting conditions, and 3. Expand Health Savings Accounts.

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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  • 27% of Americans name cost as top health problem; 20% name access
  • Cost and access were tied as top health problem in 2014 and 2015
  • College graduates most likely to cite cost as top health problem

The Urban Institute released a new analysis yesterday of the impact of a bill that Congress passed last year to repeal large parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Urban’s analysis is based on many uncertain assumptions, including the implausible one that the incoming Trump administration and Congress, despite numerous campaign promises, will not provide any flexibility for people to purchase non-ACA-compliant products after repeal. Urban’s projections should be treated with significant skepticism because of the large uncertainty about its assumptions as well as substantial mistakes Urban has made in the past about the impact of the ACA.

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Millions of emergency room patients could face financial ruin — even if they deliberately seek care at hospitals covered by their insurers.

That’s the disturbing finding of a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Conducted by two Yale professors, the study shows that 1 in 5 ER visits involve doctors who are not in the same insurance network as their hospitals. The patients treated by those out-of-network physicians are forced to pay for a portion of their care out-of-pocket. The average out-of-network ER charge is $600.

A bill that size spells disaster for many patients. About half of Americans wouldn’t be able to cover a surprise $400 bill without selling something or borrowing money.

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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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