Overnight Health Care: Collins confident health subsidies will be in spending bill | 4.7M have signed up for ObamaCare

Overnight Health Care: Collins confident health subsidies will be in spending bill | 4.7M have signed up for ObamaCare
© Greg Nash

Funding for key ObamaCare insurer subsidies is likely to be included in the upcoming government funding bill, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration Republicans agree — it’s only a matter of time for Scott Pruitt Skyrocketing insulin prices provoke new outrage MORE (R-Maine) said Wednesday.

Collins said she had received reassurances Tuesday from Vice President Pence that the subsidies, opposed by House conservatives, would be in the funding bill.

"The vice president and I had a discussion yesterday that reinforced that agreement that the bills will be considered before the end of the year," Collins said.

Collins told reporters she is confident that deal will be honored in the upcoming government spending bill, and a key conservative in the House backed up her confidence.


"I think she has every reason to believe that it'll be included," said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsGOP lawmaker says evidence might have been tampered with in Flynn case House postpones vote on compromise immigration bill The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines – First lady makes surprise visit to migrant children at border MORE (R-N.C.). "I'm not supportive of that position, but I don't know that she's misled in her confidence."

The Maine senator, a swing vote on the tax bill, reached an agreement with Senate GOP leaders that she would vote for the tax package as long as two bipartisan ObamaCare bills were passed before the end of the year.

One bill, sponsored by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOn The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Supreme Court allows states to collect sales taxes from online retailers | Judge finds consumer bureau structure unconstitutional | Banks clear Fed stress tests Supreme Court rules states can require online sellers to collect sales tax 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges —Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families White House releases sweeping proposal to reorganize government Democrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor MORE (D-Wash.), would temporarily fund ObamaCare's cost-sharing reduction payments. Another would provide "reinsurance" -- money to pay for the costs of sick enrollees and bring down premiums.

Together, the bills would shore up ObamaCare's insurance markets, which experts predict could be gutted by a provision of the tax bill that repeals the mandate to buy health insurance

Just a few days ago, though, House conservatives showed little willingness to fund subsidies they see as bailing out a law they oppose. 

Read more here.


4.7 million have signed up for ObamaCare plans

More than 4.7 million people have signed up for ObamaCare plans in six weeks of open enrollment, according to numbers released by the Trump administration Wednesday. 

More than 1 million people signed up in the sixth week, which ran from Dec. 3 through Dec. 9, including 389,000 new customers. 

That's higher than the 823,000 people who signed up in week five of open enrollment, which spanned from Nov. 26 through Dec. 2.

People had been enrolling at a faster rate than last year in prior weeks, though there wasn't a large difference this week.

But because open enrollment is only half as long as it was last year, experts expect that the number of total people who sign up for the exchanges could will short of previous years.

Open enrollment ends Friday for most states.

Read more here.


Maryland extends ObamaCare enrollment deadline

Maryland is extending the deadline by one week for people to enroll in ObamaCare through its state exchange.

The new deadline is Dec. 22. The previous deadline would have been Friday, the same date for states that use the healthcare.gov federal exchange.

"While enrollments have been very strong so far this year, we want to ensure that everyone in Maryland in need of 2018 health coverage has additional time to shop and enroll," Howard Haft, interim executive director for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said in a statement.

Read more here.


Pennsylvania gov vows to veto 20-week abortion ban passed by state legislature 

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) vowed to veto a bill passed by the state's legislature that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

"This bill is an attack on women, and it should never have reached my desk," Wolf tweeted Wednesday. 

"I will veto it, because all Pennsylvania women deserve to make their own health care decisions." 

Under current Pennsylvania law, abortions aren't permitted after 24 weeks, but there are exceptions if the life of the mother is endangered.

The bill would move that limit up to 20 weeks and keep the current exceptions. It doesn't allow exceptions for rape or incest.

Read more here.


GOP chairman: Children's health funding must be attached to spending bill 

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenHouse passes bipartisan bill to fight opioid crisis This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo Congress tackles mounting opioid epidemic MORE (R-Ore.) said Tuesday that funding for a major children's health insurance program needs to be included in a short-term funding bill later this month. 

The comments from Walden, whose panel oversees the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), add urgency to the push to renew authorization for the program covering 9 million children, which expired at the end of September and has been caught up in partisan fighting over how to pay for an extension. 

Lobbyists say some House GOP staffers have been talking about waiting until a larger funding bill in January to fund CHIP, but Walden is calling for taking care of the issue sooner, on a short-term bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep the government running beyond Dec. 22.

"It needs to go on the CR," Walden told reporters.

"We are well past any reasonable deadline for moving forward on CHIP," Walden said. "States are suffering. Children and families are getting these notices. It's unconscionable."

Read more here.


What we're reading

Inside the government's war on microbes (Politico)

Consumers who froze their credit reports could hit a glitch in enrolling in insurance (Kaiser Health News)

Native Americans feel invisible in U.S. health care system (NPR)


State by state

Fighting opioid addiction, Massachusetts considers involuntary rehab (Wall Street Journal

States sound alarm warning that kids' health insurance is at risk (NPR)

Lawmakers, residents decry state health cuts (greenwichtime.com)