Finally, we have good news on health care reform coming out of the nation’s capital.
In October 2017, President Trump issued an executive order calling for more consumer choices in the health insurance market. The departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury responded by taking aim at an Obama administration policy that severely limits the flexibility of a coverage option called “short-term, limited-duration insurance plans.”
. . .
Americans have come down with single-payer fever. A whole 59% now back a national health plan, according to a March 2018 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll—way up from the 33% reported by the Pew Research Center in summer 2017.
But the American people don’t really understand what supporting a single-payer plan means. For instance, in October 2017, 47% believed they’d be able to keep their current health coverage if a single-payer plan were put into place, according to Kaiser.
They’re sorely mistaken. Bills that would launch a government takeover of the country’s health care sector are meandering through Congress and numerous statehouses across the country. Those measures would outlaw private insurance within a matter of years. If any of them pass, Americans will find themselves paying sky-high taxes for access—not to care but to a waiting list.
. . .
What does a ruling about automobile financing have to do with Obamacare? As it turns out, plenty.
This week the Senate acted to repeal a piece of regulatory guidance the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued back in March 2013. As a Politico report Wednesday noted, that precedent allows Congress to nullify other regulatory actions the federal government took years ago—including those on Obamacare.
The Senate action regarding the CFPB guidance came pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA).
. . .
There are periodic reports of conservative plotting to make one more push before the midterms, like this quote from conservative health-care think tank chief Grace-Marie Turner:
“Congress is going to have to come back to a full repeal-and-replace measure, and we have been working every week since October to refine this legislation at the behest of the Senate. (Former) Sen. Rick Santorum has really been the energy behind this effort,” said Turner, who also explained the other players in the effort.
“Heritage Foundation, Ethics and Public Policy Center, the American Enterprise Institute, a lot of state-based think tanks and a lot of experts from around the country have been putting together a proposal that we believe cannot only get majority support in the Congress but majority support of the American people to fix this for good,” Turner said.
. . .
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.
. . .
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.
. . .
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.
. . .
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.
. . .
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.
. . .