GOP To Take Up Bills Relaxing Rules Insurers Say Have Created Unbalanced Marketplace

While they scramble to dismantle and replace the health law, Republican lawmakers are taking a piecemeal approach to rolling back some regulations that insurers claim have driven up premiums. Advocates, however, say the rules protect customers and create better quality of coverage.

Modern Healthcare: House Republicans Offer Bills To Stabilize The Individual Insurance Market
House Republicans have filed four separate bills intended to stabilize the individual insurance market while they pursue their strategy of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. The bills, to be discussed at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Thursday, address issues that insurers say have increased their costs and unbalanced the risk pool, thus driving up premiums and making the individual market a less viable business for them. But consumer advocates caution that these measures could make coverage and care less accessible and affordable for lower-income, older, and sicker people. (Meyer, 1/30)

In other health law repeal news —

The Associated Press: Chair Says GOP Doesn’t Want To Rush Health Care Overhaul
A leader of the Republican effort to revamp President Barack Obama’s health care law says the message from GOP lawmakers at last week’s private strategy session was for “a very deliberate, thoughtful approach.” … Texas GOP Rep. Kevin Brady chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. He says lawmakers told leaders: “Let’s not rush. Let’s get it right.” (1/30)

Modern Healthcare: Prevention Benefits At Risk With An Obamacare Repeal
The Affordable Care Act extended 100% coverage for a range of preventive healthcare services, including some types of cancer screening, to seniors on Medicare. That first-dollar coverage likely saved lives by increasing diagnoses of early-stage colorectal cancer by 8% among Medicare beneficiaries during the first three years it was in effect, a new study in Health Affairs reported. Now experts fear Republicans will eliminate the law’s mandate for full coverage of recommended preventive services in taxpayer-financed and employer-based health plans. The GOP proposals also would erase the requirement that individual plans offer minimum essential benefits in 10 categories, including mental health and substance abuse, maternity care and prescription drugs. (Meyer, 1/28)

USA Today: Patients Brace For Post-Obamacare Out-Of-Pocket Health Costs
A lack of clarity into what the Trump administration will do about the Affordable Care Act and drug prices is unnerving many patients with cancer and other chronic diseases, who worry that the alternative to high premiums and deductibles could lead to worse solutions than the high out-of-pocket costs they have now. Assurances that people with pre-existing health conditions will still be able to get insurance through any ACA replacement plan offers only partial solace to many cancer and heart patients. They know the details of any plan will determine whether they are better or worse off financially. (O’Donnell, 1/31)



Viewpoints: GOP Senators’ Plan Reveals Panic Over Possible Political Ramifications Of Repeal

A selection of opinions on health care developments from around the state.

Los Angeles Times: Showing Panic Over Obamacare Repeal, GOP Senators Release Replacement Plan That (Almost) Makes Sense
If you’re following the health insurance debate—and since the coverage of more than 20 million Americans is under threat from the Trump White House and the Republican congressional majority, you should be—you’re going to be hearing a lot in the coming weeks about Cassidy-Collins. That’s an Obamacare replacement plan just introduced by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Dubbed the Patient Freedom Act, It’s the first such proposal that indicates that the GOP is becoming increasingly panicked about the political price of repealing the Affordable Care Act outright, and increasingly desperate to reassure voters that the provisions of Obamacare they actually value can be retained without a break. (Michael Hiltzik, 1/24)

Los Angeles Times: The Hidden Costs Of Replacing Obamacare
Congressional Republicans set themselves on a fast track this month to repeal the tax and spending provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. But President Trump and numerous GOP lawmakers are coming around to the view that it would be irresponsible, and possibly disastrous, to take that step without enacting a plan to replace the law at the same time. That change of heart has forced opponents of the act to focus on something they should have been focusing on for years now: What is the problem they’re trying to fix? Because repealing Obamacare won’t slow rising healthcare costs by itself, and it certainly won’t enable more Americans to obtain health insurance. (1/21)

Orange County Register: What If Trump-Care Works In California? What If It Doesn’t? 
One problem in having a president who operates without much regard for facts, truth or consistency — one whose staff has devised the concept of “alternative facts” — is that when he says or promises something, no one can know whether he means it. So it was with President Trump’s mid-January promise of “health insurance for everybody,” including better coverage, more choice among policies, lower deductibles and no one left behind — far different from anything his Republican allies in Congress ever promised in their many efforts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). (Thomas Elias, 1/24)

Sacramento Bee: Obamacare Repeal Means Huge Windfall For Wealthy 
The debate on repealing Obamacare has rightly focused on all those Americans who would be hurt – the estimated 18 million who could lose their health insurance in the first year. But there should be more attention on those who could benefit right away – the super rich who would get a huge tax cut. At the same time, millions of Americans – including 1.2 million Californians – would lose tax credits on health insurance premiums they now get under the Affordable Care Act. (1/23)

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Repeal Would Hit California’s Central Valley Hard
Last week, I went looking for the real Obamacare. Not the one that’s been vilified by President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, but the Obamacare that’s otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, the one providing health coverage to more than 5 million people in California. (Ed Hernandez, 1/26)

Los Angeles Times: Donald Trump’s Executive Order On Obamacare Will Cripple The Health Insurance Market
The day after the election I wrote that Republicans would find it hard to repeal Obamacare — but not so hard to vandalize it. In his first official action after being sworn in as president, Donald Trump applied the first smear of graffiti to a law that today brings health coverage to more than 20 million Americans. The executive order Trump signed at the White House gives the Department of Heath and Human Services and other government agencies broad latitude to start undermining the law. It encourages them “to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay” any provision of the law that would “impose a fiscal burden” on pretty much anyone — state, hospital, doctor, or patient. (Michael Hiltzik, 1/21)

Los Angeles Times: Paul Ryan Continues His Assault On Obamacare And Medicare — This Time On The ‘Charlie Rose’ Show 
We previously debunked the statements Ryan delivered about the Affordable Care Act during a broadcast town hall last week, when he tried to explain why he’s so intent on repealing the law. On Wednesday, Ryan brought his act to the “Charlie Rose” show on PBS. For an hour, he comfortably fielded verbal balls of yarn from the host, who indulgently allowed him to rattle on without any measurable pushback. So let’s once again examine Ryan’s words and test them against the truth. We’ll start with Obamacare and move on to Medicare. People should pay attention, because the effect of Ryan’s policies would be to make affordable healthcare harder to find for millions of Americans and to leave seniors holding the bag for more of their own medical needs. (Michael Hiltzik, 1/20)

Sacramento Bee: A Choice: Come To The Table Or Be On The Menu
The polls say we want our leaders to produce environmentally sensible and fiscally responsible solutions for our crumbling infrastructure, and a health system that fosters innovation and provides a safety net for those that need one. Polls say we want a tax code that is simple to understand and equally meted out, and an immigration system that is true to the timeless values on which our nation was built, and one that is rational and compassionate. … How can we reach considered compromise? Let’s start with how not: labeling the ascendant party as illegitimate. Pledging, even before the new government assumes control, to fight it. (John Russell IV, 1/22)

Sacramento Bee: Make America Sick Again? In California, GOP Could Pay A Price
So it went Monday outside the most endangered health center in the congressional district of Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whose party’s crusades against Planned Parenthood and Obamacare are on a collision course with millions of Californians just trying to manage their lives. As if it isn’t enough that the GOP Congress and the Trump administration have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act – a plan that would disrupt or end health insurance for about 5 million people in this state, including hundreds of thousands in Republican districts – they also have greased the skids for defunding the state’s best known provider of women’s reproductive health care. (Shawn Hubler, 1/20)


Price Promises Not To ‘Pull The Rug Out’ From Under Americans, But Offers Few Details On Replacement

At a four-hour hearing, Donald Trump’s nominee for HHS secretary backed away from the incoming president’s promises of insurance for everyone, but set lofty goals for his own replacement plans. Democrats also pressed Price on his stocks, but the nominee defended his actions as “above board.”

The New York Times: Choice For Health Secretary Is Vague On Replacing Affordable Care Act
Representative Tom Price, the man President-elect Donald J. Trump has chosen to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, promised on Wednesday to make sure people do not “fall through the cracks” if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, and set a goal to increase the number of people with health insurance But at a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Mr. Price provided only vague reassurance to members of both parties who pressed him for specific policies. (Pear and Kaplan, 1/18)

Los Angeles Times: Trump’s Pick For Health Secretary Tells Senators He Will Protect The Vulnerable, But Doesn’t Say How
During a testy four-hour hearing on Capitol Hill — which also featured several heated exchanges about Price’s ethics — Price also repeatedly dodged questions from Democrats seeking assurance that he would preserve basic protections required by law. Among other things, Obamacare bans lifetime limits on coverage, requires that health plans offer basic benefits such as substance abuse treatment and mandates that plans allow parents to keep their children on their insurance until they are 26. (Levey, 1/18)

After Capitalizing On Antipathy Against Health Law, E&C Chairman Now Focusing On ‘Repair And Rebuild’

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., has taken over the Energy and Commerce Committee, a role in which he’ll be required to steer Republicans’ efforts to replace the health law. Meanwhile, incoming Vice President Mike Pence says Donald Trump is getting “very close” to a health care plan, and Republicans look to avoid any YouTube moments that could undermine their messaging for replacement.

Politico: Obamacare Attack Dog To Lead GOP Effort To Replace It
Rep. Greg Walden spent four years capitalizing on Americans’ unease with Obamacare to usher in the largest House Republican majority in 90 years. Now, he has to help figure out how to replace it. (Cheney and Bade, 1/18)

CNN: Mike Pence: Trump ‘Getting Very Close’ To Obamacare Replacement
Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Wednesday that Republicans do not yet have a bill to replace Obamacare, but that he has “seen a lot of great ideas” and that transition officials and GOP leaders are “getting very close” to having a replacement. “It’s being crafted right now,” Pence said Wednesday in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, when asked about a replacement to the President’s signature health care law. “We’re getting very close. We expect to have that plan come forward in the early days of the administration.” Pence’s comments came after Trump said in an interview Saturday with The Washington Post that his health care replacement plan “is very much formulated down to the final strokes.” (Diamond, 1/18)

The Washington Post: Republicans Look To Avoid YouTube Moments In Fight Over Obamacare Repeal
Seven years after unruly Democratic town halls helped stoke public outrage over the Affordable Care Act, Republicans now appear keen to avoid the kind of dustups capable of racking up millions of views on YouTube and ending up in a 2018 campaign commercial. One week after the Republican Congress kicked off the process of repealing the landmark health-care legislation, only a handful of GOP lawmakers have held or are currently planning to host in-person town hall meetings open to all comers — the sort of large-scale events that helped feed the original Obamacare backlash in the summer of 2009. (DeBonis, 1/19)

The Associated Press: AP-NORC Poll: Americans Of All Stripes Say Fix Health Care
Sylvia Douglas twice voted for President Barack Obama and last year cast a ballot for Democrat Hillary Clinton. But when it comes to “Obamacare,” she now sounds like President-elect Donald Trump. This makes her chuckle amid the serious choices she faces every month between groceries, electricity and paying a health insurance bill that has jumped by nearly $400. “It’s a universal thing, nobody likes it,” Douglas, a licensed practical nurse in Huntsville, Alabama, said of Obama’s signature law. (Kellman and Swanson, 1/18)


Benefits – 10 Potential changes to health care on 1.20.2017

Los Angeles times Republicans not sure how to dismantle, repeal and then replace. it may take months to get anything going


Almost No Health Players Back Repeal-And-Delay Plan, But GOP Remains Resolute

No major industry executives, patients and doctors groups nor insurers who have been vocal opponents of the health law are voicing support for the Republicans’ strategy. On the contrary, most warn that it will be disastrous. Meanwhile, to save the insurance market from collapsing amid uncertainty, Republicans may have to rely on the “bailouts” they so hated during the Obama administration.

Los Angeles Times: Trump And The GOP Are Charging Forward With Obamacare Repeal, But Few Are Eager To Follow
As they race to repeal large parts of the Affordable Care Act, President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are leaving behind nearly everyone but their base voters and a handful of conservative activists. Not a single major organization representing patients, physicians, hospitals or others who work in the nation’s healthcare system backs the GOP’s Obamacare strategy. New polls also show far more Americans would like to expand or keep the healthcare law, rather than repeal it. (Levey, 12/12)

Politico: GOP Will Kill Obamacare … And Then Fund It
Republicans are going to kill Obamacare — but first they might have to save it. The already fragile Obamacare markets — beset by soaring premiums and fleeing insurers — are likely to collapse unless Republicans take deliberate steps to stabilize them while they build consensus on a replacement plan, say health care experts. That could lead to a mess for the roughly 10 million Americans currently getting coverage through the government-run marketplaces — and backlash against the GOP. (Demko, 12/9)

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