The conceit that the five major commercial health insurers will consolidate to three seems to be dissolving, as four of those insurers called off a pair of mega-mergers on Tuesday. After 18 months of courtship among the Big Five starting in 2015, the outgoing Obama Justice Department’s antitrust division sued to block the $34 billion Aetna- Humana tie-up as well as Anthem’s $48 billion acquisition of Cigna. Federal judges blocked both transactions earlier this year. Anthem had planned to appeal but on Tuesday Cigna pulled the plug after Aetna and Humana did the same.

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Republican town halls are erupting with protests as Americans fret over the future of their health insurance. But listen to Lamar Alexander for a few minutes, and you might think not a single bad thing will come of the GOP’s plan to rip apart Obamacare and stitch together a replacement.

The folksy Tennessee senator is quietly prevailing upon Republican lawmakers to take a deep breath when it comes to rewriting the health care law that controls a sixth of the American economy. His goal, in a nutshell: to reassure millions of Americans that Republicans aren’t trying to snatch away their health insurance.

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Obamacare is a proven policy failure. Congress and the Trump Administration must completely repeal the law, beginning by seizing the opportunity to accomplish as much of repeal as possible through the reconciliation process. Congress must focus on the fundamentals: equalizing the tax treatment of health insurance; restoring commonsense regulation of health insurance; and addressing the serious need for reform in Medicare and Medicaid by adopting policies that give individuals control over their health care. High quality health care means all Americans should be free to choose a health care plan that meets their needs and reflects their values. Congress must act now to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a new set of options that empower Americans, not government.

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A new poll by McLaughlin & Associates, commissioned by Hudson Institute finds that when the link is made between Obamacare’s preexisting-conditions protections and higher premiums, Americans prefer lower premiums to such protections. The poll included 36% Democrats and 33% Republicans.

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When Dave Hoppe recalls his first big health-care fight, one memory stands out. It was the summer of 1994, and Sen. George Mitchell, the Democratic majority leader, had canceled August recess to force a debate over his party’s health-care monster: HillaryCare.

Senators weren’t happy about losing their break, remembers Mr. Hoppe, who at the time was an aide. “And yet, Republican senators were lining up in the cloakroom; they couldn’t wait to get to the floor,” he says. “They knew this issue. They’d studied it. They were better informed than Democrats about HillaryCare. There was such an esprit de corps. It was energizing.”

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The U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Representative Tom Price (R-GA) to be Secretary of Health and Human Services early this morning by a vote of 52 to 47. As secretary, Price will be responsible for a department with an annual budget of more than $1 trillion and will put him in charge of President Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

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Tom Price’s no-nonsense work ethic, attention to detail, and an unquenchable thirst to be at the center of weighty decisions—particularly involving medical policy—has driven him throughout his life. Price traveled the state of Georgia in the 1990s to rail against Hillary Clinton’s health care proposal, a prelude to his first run for office. It was the centerpiece of his rise from Roswell surgeon to political power broker in the Georgia Senate. And his former campaign manager swears the chance to lead the federal government’s health care system was on his mind shortly after he won his U.S. House seat in 2004.

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California has been an early and frequent booster of the Affordable Care Act and the vast majority of the state’s politicians are committed to improving, rather than repealing, the law. The best path forward is for California to seize the opportunities in the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Two major areas where California could cooperate with the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress include improving coverage and access for the working poor, and controlling health care costs, particularly for small businesses and those who do not receive insurance subsidies.

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Healthcare.gov enrollment came in well below what was anticipated last month. After running very slightly ahead of last year’s numbers in December, January brought the news that about 400,000 fewer people had enrolled on the federal exchanges than did so in 2016. Those are scary numbers, not so much for the absolute size of the decline—it’s roughly 4%—but because any backwards movement is very bad news for the exchanges. Trump was only president for a few days’ worth of open enrollment. Could he really have somehow caused 400,000 people to forgo health insurance?

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The recent debate over the future of Obamacare has obscured an important, but fundamental, truth: The American health care system is exceptional.

It is entrepreneurial and offers patients more control over their health care decisions than anywhere else in the world. One of the primary problems with Obamacare is that it does not prioritize these values. As the Trump administration and congressional Republicans consider what to do after the repeal of Obamacare, they should, as the Hippocratic Oath states, “do no harm” to those elements of our health care system that are functioning well. But they should also take steps to promote policies that emphasize choice and innovation.
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