Some Americans will be given several extra days to sign up for Obamacare insurance plans after the federal enrollment period officially ends Friday, amid long waits on the government’s enrollment phone line.
Republican lawmakers will overturn a key piece of the Affordable Care Act in their tax overhaul, a victory in a long GOP campaign against the health law.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the compromise tax bill from House and Senate negotiators will end the health law’s requirement that all individuals buy insurance or pay a fine.
The bill will “repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate tax, delivering relief to low- and middle-income Americans who have struggled under an unpopular and unworkable law,” the Kentucky Republican said in an emailed statement.
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For some lower-income people in Obamacare, the rising premiums President Donald Trump has talked so much about will barely be felt at all. Others, particularly those with higher incomes, will feel the sharp increases when insurance sign-ups begin Wednesday.
Richard Taylor is one of the people on the wrong end. The 61-year-old, self-employed Oklahoman has meticulously tracked his medical costs since 1994. In 2013, he signed up for an Affordable Care Act plan for the law’s first year offering coverage to millions of Americans.
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President Donald Trump called Wednesday for repealing the Obamacare individual mandate in a tax overhaul, a day before House GOP leaders planned to unveil a bill without that provision.
In a pair of tweets, Trump said: “Wouldn’t it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts for the Middle Class. The House and Senate should consider ASAP as the process of final approval moves along.”
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A crucial GOP senator says that after weeks of effort, there’s not enough agreement among lawmakers to advance a small package of bipartisan changes that would stabilize Obamacare’s health insurance markets. “We have worked hard and in good faith, but have not found the necessary consensus among Republicans and Democrats to put a bill in the Senate leaders’ hands that could be enacted,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who leads the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.
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House Republicans may face the possibility of having to vote again on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House earlier this month. House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates its effects. House leaders want to make sure the bill conforms with Senate rules for reconciliation, a mechanism that allows Senate Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority. The CBO is expected to release an updated estimate next week.
President Donald Trump said Monday the Republican health-care bill being negotiated in Congress ultimately will protect Americans with pre-existing conditions as well as Obamacare does.
“I want it to be good for sick people. It’s not in its final form right now,” he said during an Oval Office interview Monday with Bloomberg News. “It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.”
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The Trump administration may stop enforcing the Obamacare requirement that most Americans carry health insurance even before Congress repeals the law, Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to the new president, said in interviews broadcast on Sunday.
Such a move would take the teeth out of former President Barack Obama’s health-care law and could destabilize insurance markets, analysts say. It was not clear from Conway’s remarks whether President Donald Trump would try to use his executive authority to make the change, which would be much faster than writing new regulations or waiting on lawmakers.
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While Obamacare has brought health insurance to millions of people in the U.S., some in the program are finding that the medical care they need is too expensive to actually use.
Michelle Harris, a 61-year-old retired waitress in northwest Montana, has arthritis in both shoulders. She gets a tax subsidy to help buy coverage under Obamacare, though she still pays $338 a month for the BlueCross BlueShield plan. Yet with its $4,500 deductible, she says she’s doing everything she can to avoid seeing a doctor. Instead, she uses ibuprofen and cold-packs.
“It hurts, but we don’t have that kind of money,” Harris said in an interview. “So I deal with it.”
President Barack Obama is having a tough time winning friends for his Cadillac tax.
His plan to dial back the unpopular ObamaCare tax on high-cost health plans, to be detailed in the fiscal 2017 budget he’ll release Feb. 9, has won him no applause from employers, labor unions or health insurers. The tax still must be repealed, they say, not merely modified.
“The ‘Cadillac tax’ cannot be fixed,” James Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, a nonprofit representing employers, said in a statement. “We’re glad the administration recognizes the ‘Cadillac tax’ is seriously flawed. But its impact in high cost areas is just one of its many problems.”