President Barack Obama will head to Capitol Hill Wednesday to meet with congressional Democrats about how to shield Obamacare from Republican efforts to dismantle it, a Capitol Hill source told POLITICO.
The meeting is at 9 a.m. in the Congressional Visitors Center auditorium and is for both House and Senate Democrats, according to a notice sent to members Friday morning.
With Republican vowing to begin repealing Obamacare almost immediately when the 115th Congress convenes next week, Democratic lawmakers are immersed in strategy sessions on how to protect the nearly seven-year-old health care law.
Republican leaders in Congress and the incoming Trump administration have said that they plan to move quickly to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the early weeks of 2017, with a delay in the date of when key aspects of the repeal would become effective until perhaps 2019 or 2020. This is the so-called “repeal and delay” option. They have also pledged to replace the law in separate legislation, or a series of bills, that would come later, although it is not clear what the replacement would look like or when it would pass.
We do not support this approach to repealing and replacing the ACA because it carries too much risk of unnecessary disruption to the existing insurance arrangements upon which many people are now relying to finance their health services, and because it is unlikely to produce a coherent reform of health care in the United States. The most likely end result of “repeal and delay” would be less secure insurance for many Americans, procrastination by political leaders who will delay taking any proactive steps as long as possible, and ultimately no discernible movement toward a real marketplace for either insurance or medical services.
. . .
Medicaid has grown in size in recent years, with ObamaCare extending coverage to millions of low-income people who hadn’t qualified before. But Republicans warn of the program’s growing costs and have pushed to provide that money to states in the form of block grants — an idea President-elect Donald Trump endorsed during the campaign.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence signaled in an interview with ABC this month that the incoming administration planned to keep Medicare as it is, while looking at ways to change Medicaid.
“I think President-elect Trump made it very clear in the course of the campaign that, as president, we’re going to keep our promises in Social Security and Medicare,” Pence told ABC. “With regard to Medicaid, though, I will tell you, there’s a real opportunity, there’s a real opportunity as we repeal and replace ObamaCare to do exactly what the president-elect also said on the campaign, and that is block granting Medicaid back to the states.”
. . .
A small group of hospital executives and physicians met with president-elect Donald Trump at his Florida estate Wednesday, where they discussed ways to improve health care for veterans, as well as the Affordable Care Act and related issues.
Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, said the main focus was how to reform the VA health care system and “provide better quality and timely care to veterans.” Also discussed, he said, was Obamacare, costs, access, and quality of care.
Dr. Paul Rothman, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, said he was thankful and encouraged by the meeting at Mar-a-Lago.
. . .
Cost overruns are endemic to government health programs, and ObamaCare is turning out to be no different. Not only are its Medicaid expansion costs exploding, skyrocketing premiums are now pushing insurance subsidy costs through the roof.
A new study from the Center for Health and Economy finds that because of the double-digit premium increases across the country, federal spending on ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies will shoot up by nearly $10 billion next year
That’s because the amount of the subsidy is directly tied to the cost of insurance in any given market. The Obama administration treats this as a cardinal virtue of ObamaCare, because the subsidies largely shield eligible enrollees from premium rate shocks. In fact, the administration has argued that higher premiums are a good thing, because they make more people eligible for those subsidies.
. . .
Judging by appointments to top posts in health care, the incoming Trump administration is on course to validate its campaign promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Despite the emphasis by many on preserving secondary parts of the law like maintaining children up to age 26 on the parent’s coverage, Americans should understand that the ACA indeed must be eliminated. Why? Because its misguided amalgam of regulations generated skyrocketing insurance premiums, reduced choice of doctors, funneled millions more poor people into substandard programs and accelerated consolidation throughout the health care industry– serious consequences directly harmful to patients.
. . .
When the 115th Congress convenes in early January, they’ll waste no time before launching an assault on key parts of President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law. A bare-bones budget resolution acting as a vehicle to dismantle the Affordable Care Act will get a House floor vote the week of Jan. 9, according to a memo from Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, CQ Roll Call reported. That means the Senate could take up and pass the budget resolution during the prior week.
. . .
James, C. Capretta, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and health care policy scholar, answers questions about why Obamacare isn’t working and how those on left and the right aim to alter the health care law. Capretta says, “[Republicans want to] retain the employer-based health insurance system and change the structure of the regulations involving the non-group market that’s now covered by the ACA. They’d have subsidies, tax credits for people outside the employer system to make sure everybody in the United States could get health insurance if they wanted it. This mirrors a proposal that was introduced a couple of years ago by Senator Hatch, Senator Burr, and Congressman Fred Upton. That plan looks a lot like a House’s “Better Way” health care plan. I would say that the leading contender for what would be a replace is somewhere in the universe of those two types of plans.”
Influential members of Congress are supporting reenacting a health care bill that passed Congress last January called the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015, or H.R. 3762. That bill would have repealed Obamacare’s tax hikes, Medicaid expansion, and insurance exchange subsidies. But critically, this partial repeal bill does not get rid of Obamacare’s tens of thousands of pages of insurance regulations, which are responsible for the law’s drastic premium hikes. If Republicans pass a replica of H.R. 3762 in the first quarter of 2017, they will be making a potentially catastrophic mistake that might make it impossible for them to replace Obamacare later on. To avoid those pitfalls, they need to wipe out Obamacare’s costliest insurance regulations in the new partial repeal bill and retain about three-fifths of Obamacare’s tax hikes to create fiscal room for the replacement.
. . .
About 6.4 million people have signed up for health insurance next year under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration said Wednesday, as people rushed to purchase plans regardless of Republican promises that the law will be repealed within months.
The new sign-ups — an increase of 400,000 over a similar point last year — mean the health care coverage of millions of consumers could be imperiled by one of the first legislative actions of Donald J. Trump’s presidency. Hundreds of thousands of other people who took no action will be automatically re-enrolled by the federal government in the same or similar plans, officials said, and their coverage could be threatened as well. Consumers still have until the end of January to enroll.
. . .