Time and opportunity still exist to replace Obamacare.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., ought to make it a priority, and should make clear he is open to pushing through a budget resolution next month to make it happen.
It can’t happen without the budget resolution, because that’s the only way they can avoid a bill-killing filibuster and pass the healthcare reform with a bare majority of 50 votes (plus Vice President Mike Pence) in the Senate.
Here’s why and how it could still come together.
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There are already more than a dozen reasons people can use to avoid paying the penalty for not having health insurance. Now the federal government has added four more “hardship exemptions”. Under the new rules, people can apply for a hardship exemption that excuses them from having to have health insurance if they:
- Live in an area where there are no marketplace plans.
- Live in an area where there is just one insurer selling marketplace plans.
- Can’t find an affordable marketplace plan that doesn’t cover abortion.
- Experience “personal circumstances” that make it difficult for them to buy a marketplace plan, including not being able to find a plan in their area that gives them access to specialty care they need.
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What the British government is doing to a baby and his family is almost unbelievable. The government has determined that Alfie Evans, afflicted as he is by a rare neurodegenerative disorder, has so poor a quality of life that no efforts should be made to keep him alive.
He was taken off ventilation, but continued, surprising the doctors, to breathe. He has also been deprived of water and food. His parents want to take him to Italy, where a hospital is willing to treat him. The British government says no, and has police stationed to keep the boy from being rescued.
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This year could mark a significant shift for Medicaid programs across the country, as some states look to expand the government insurance program to more poor Americans while others seek to add more requirements for people who benefit.
Initiatives to get Medicaid expansion put on the November ballot are underway in Utah, Nebraska, Idaho and Montana. And Virginia lawmakers appear on the verge of securing an expansion deal, after years of rejecting the idea.
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Connecticut lawmakers are considering two bills that would impose fines on people for choosing not to buy health insurance.
The Connecticut state House Insurance and Real Estate Committee sponsored House Bill 5379 (H.B. 5379), which would require residents who do not purchase health insurance to pay a fine of $10,000 or 9.66 percent of their annual income, whichever is higher.
Connecticut state Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) sponsored House Bill 5039 (H.B. 5039), which would levy a fine of $500 or 2 percent of annual income on individuals who decide not to buy health insurance.
H.B. 5039 was approved by the Connecticut General Assembly’s Joint Insurance and Real Estate Committee in March and made available for consideration in the full House of Representatives on April 9. The committee also held a March 2 public hearing on H.B. 5379 but did not vote on the bill.
The Connecticut House has not yet scheduled a vote on either bill.
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Some in Washington would have us believe there is only one way to provide relief to the millions of Americans trapped between paying the high cost of Obamacare or dropping coverage altogether: Send billions of taxpayer dollars to health insurance companies.
They’re wrong. There is a better way.
Short-term plans are just what the name implies – coverage for three to 12 months, but in most cases at a much lower cost to consumers because they are only paying for services they need and no longer paying for care they don’t need. For example, that could mean men no longer paying for maternity care. As a result of this increased customization, sky-high deductibles may finally start coming down for some Americans.
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This week the Texas Public Policy Foundation, on behalf of individual Texans burdened by Obamacare, filed to join the Texas-led, 20 state lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional as amended by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has already held that the individual mandate absent the tax penalty is unconstitutional,” said Robert Henneke, general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future at TPPF. “Now that Congress has set the tax penalty at zero, it no longer performs the essential function of a tax, which is to generate revenue for the federal government. Under the Supreme Court’s own analysis in the NFIB v. Sebulius case, there is no remaining legal basis on which to uphold the individual mandate, which cannot be severed from the Affordable Care Act as a whole. By joining this lawsuit, the Foundation seeks to accomplish what Congress has failed to do — fully strike down this unconstitutional law.”
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Thirty-nine health policy experts and representatives of a broad cross-section of organizations joined in signing a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding its proposed rule on Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance.
They argue that the Obama administration exerted “regulatory overreach” in limiting the sale of short-term policies to 90 days and prohibiting their renewal “in an effort to limit the sale of these policies, constrain consumer choice, and impose federal regulations on a product whose regulation the statute reserves to the states.”
“We hope this will convince CMS to amend its proposed rule to allow, among other things, renewability of short-term policies,” said Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, who helped organize the letter.
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Short-term, limited duration (STLD) health insurance has long been offered to individuals through the non-group market and through associations. The product was designed for people who experience a temporary gap in health coverage.1 Unlike other products that are considered “limited benefit” or “excepted benefit” policies – such as cancer-only policies or hospital indemnity policies that pay a fixed dollar benefit per inpatient stay – short-term policies are generally considered to be “major medical” coverage; however, short-term policies are distinguished from other comprehensive major medical policies because they only provide coverage for a limited term, typically less than 365 days. Short-term policies are also characterized by other significant limitations, including the types of services covered, often with a dollar maximum.
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