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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The policy proposition of the Affordable Care Act was to increase the number of people with health insurance by expanding government programs and subsidizing private insurance premiums. It did so by expanding eligibility for government insurance programs and regulatory authority over U.S. health care via new mandates, regulations, and taxes. The two major elements of the law—a significant Medicaid expansion for non-disabled adults and subsidies for exchange-based private insurance—will each be funded with almost $1 trillion of taxpayer money over a decade, according to a January 2017 CBO analysis.

The harmful effects of this ill-conceived approach are now well documented: Insurance premiums have skyrocketed; many insurers have withdrawn from the state marketplaces; and for those with coverage, doctor and hospital choices have narrowed dramatically. The ACA will also undoubtedly accelerate the development of the kind of two-tiered health care system characteristic of other nationalized systems, where people with money or power are able to circumvent the substandard government systems that the lower classes must endure. The result will be an end to the superior access, broad freedom of choice, and exceptional quality of care that distinguishes American health care from the centralized systems that are failing the world over.

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Anne Cornwell considered two drastic strategies in her quest to get affordable health insurance premiums last year for herself and her retired husband.

One was divorce. Another was taking a 30 percent pay cut. She chose the latter.

That maneuver slashed the premiums for the couple, who live in Chattanooga, Tenn., from exorbitant to economical. Instead of $2,100 a month — the amount she had been quoted for 2017 — their premiums are just $87 monthly, her lost income more than compensated for by qualifying for insurance subsides.

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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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Though much of the discussion during Alex Azar’s confirmation hearing for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services centered on his ties to the pharmaceutical industry, a Senate panel also grilled Azar on payment reforms, the Affordable Care Act and electronic health records.

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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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Nearly 2.8 million people signed up for ObamaCare plans during the first 25 days of open enrollment, but the rate of sign-ups has slowed, the Trump administration announced.

The fourth week resulted in just over 504,000 people selecting plans, compared with just under 800,000 people during the third week.

That number was also down from the 876,788 who signed up during week two, and the 601,462 who signed up during the first week of open enrollment.

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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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