In the tradition of departing presidents, Barack Obama left a letter for incoming President Donald Trump.
The thrust of the message, which Trump relayed to congressional leaders during their White House meeting Monday evening, was a plea to salvage ObamaCare — or swap it for something at least as generous.
“I haven’t seen the letter,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who attended the meeting, told reporters Tuesday. “But President Obama correctly … stated that, ‘Look, we believe the Affordable Care Act is a very important piece of legislation which has given Americans better health, better access, more reliability. And if you have a bill … that improves upon all this, well, you know, maybe I could support it.”
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Republicans and Democrats sparred during a hearing on Tuesday before the House Budget Committee on “The Failures of Obamacare: Harmful Effects and Broken Promises,” showing the division between Democrats who continue to defend the law and Republicans who heard clearly the call of the electorate to repeal and replace it. While millions of people have received health coverage under Obamacare, many millions more have felt personal harm. The law has negatively impacted young people, families, the poor, and businesses. Hundreds of thousands of people who purchased ObamaCare plans and paid their premiums have lost their coverage, and the law contains nearly two dozen taxes totaling more than $1 trillion, many of which are passed along to middle-income consumers in the form of higher premiums.
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Even as the individual mandate is about to be killed off (Congress is poised to reduce its penalty to $0, thereby effectively repealing it), some center-right policy wonks and politicians are trying to give life to a new idea that might be even worse—”auto-enrollment.”
Here’s how it would work: If an American citizen were made eligible for a tax credit for health insurance, but chose not to use it, the government could then “auto-enroll” that citizen in a health insurance policy of the government’s choosing. It would use the “tax credit” to pay for it. This is a terrible idea on its face, but here are five specific reasons why it is so:
1. It is paternalistic.
2. It would be a free-for-all for cronyism.
3. It would be very expensive.
4. It would feature federal spending that’s masquerading as tax cuts.
5. It would raise premiums.
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On Wednesday, Tucker Carlson debated Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Jonathan Gruber, often considered one of the “architects” of ObamaCare, on the merits of the law and why Republicans want it repealed.
Carlson said that 20 percent of those on the insurance exchanges only have one coverage option, and listed a few criticisms that Americans have of the law.
“There’s been a lot of misinformation,” Gruber said, adding that some costs increases have been slower than before the law was passed.
“Americans just dont understand what this law has done for them,” he said.
Gruber said that the richest Americans and the youngest and healthiest may have indeed been hurt by the law, but the fact they often must pay more for healthcare has helped others who are less fortunate.
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Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday mapped out the GOP’s 200-day legislative strategy, saying Republicans will repeal and replace portions of ObamaCare by spring and tackle tax reform before the August recess.
During a private meeting of House and Senate Republicans at their annual policy retreat, Ryan said House committees will mark up a reconciliation package in the next couple of weeks that will both repeal President Obama’s healthcare law and replace portions of it, according to several lawmakers in the room.
Then, Ryan will bring the final reconciliation package to the House floor by late February or early March.
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As the 115th Congress begins, I am honored to assume a new role as Interim Chair of the House Budget Committee.
It is an exciting opportunity, particularly as the first woman to fill the position, but more than any title before my name, I’m still most proud of the two letters that follow: “R.N.”
I graduated from nursing school in 1971 and still keep my license today. Those years on the front lines of patient care, primarily in emergency room settings, inform much of the work I do in Congress – especially when it comes to ObamaCare.
It’s no secret that Congressional Republicans aren’t keen on former President Obama’s health care law (of course, recent polling shows that a majority of Americans still aren’t either) but, for me, the debate has never been about politics. It’s personal.
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The provision was buried deep in a 1,000-page bill that Congress passed in December by large bipartisan majorities. Most lawmakers probably didn’t know it was there. Yet it is the start of an answer to the biggest question on Washington’s mind: What to do about ObamaCare?
The 21st Century Cures Act, which President Obama signed Dec. 13, focuses mainly on helping patients obtain breakthrough drugs and medical devices. But it also includes provisions that will give small employers—those with fewer than 50 workers—more flexibility in the insurance marketplace. As Republicans debate how to replace ObamaCare, giving that same flexibility to all employers would be a perfect place to start.
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President Trump told Fox News last week that when it comes to ObamaCare, “we’re going to have a plan that’s going to be great for people.”
What that plan will actually be, though, remains unclear.
Trump has said that he will put forward an ObamaCare replacement plan shortly after Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) is confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services, an announcement that caught lawmakers off guard.
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The executive order President Trump signed on Friday does not have any immediate policy effect, but it does call attention to the wide range of administrative actions that a Trump administration could take to change the Affordable Care Act—all without legislation from Congress.
We’ve compiled a list of those actions. It’s not exhaustive; there is a lot more a Trump administration could do. Nor do we mean to suggest that these actions would be legal. Declining to enforce the individual mandate, in particular, would be problematic, although the Trump administration might seek cover from dubious enforcement decisions made by the Obama administration (like the “like it, keep it” fix and employer mandate delays).
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Two Republican senators on Monday introduced a plan under which states could choose to maintain the Obamacare exchanges or overhaul the program.
The proposal from Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Susan Collins (Maine) would allow state capitols to decide whether to maintain the Affordable Care Act or to launch a new plan that would automatically enroll people not covered by an employer, Medicare or Medicaid in a plan.
Under their plan, known as the Patient Freedom Act, states could opt to continue receiving federal premium tax credits, cost-sharing subsidies and Medicaid dollars as they have under the ACA, or enact a new system under which states would receive funds through advanceable, refundable tax credits or per beneficiary grants. Patients would receive funding directly through a health savings account.
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