Overnight Healthcare: Dems eye deal on ObamaCare subsidies for extra military funding

Overnight Healthcare: Dems eye deal on ObamaCare subsidies for extra military funding
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agreeing to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks.

Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump's initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding.

In exchange, Democratic leaders want the GOP to agree to fund cost-sharing reduction subsidies. If the subsidies are halted, Democrats warn that millions of people will lose healthcare coverage as the ObamaCare exchanges collapse because of a funding shortfall.


Democrats argue that it's in the interest of House Republicans to agree to appropriate money for the healthcare subsidies because otherwise the Trump administration will have the burden of making those payments under its executive authority.

If Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race McCabe: No one in 'Gang of Eight' objected to FBI probe into Trump Unscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden MORE (R-Wis.) refuses to agree to an estimated $10 billion in funding for cost-sharing subsidies, then Democrats will demand that the $15 billion in extra military funding be matched with an equal increase in supplemental funding for non-military programs -- hewing to a standard they have long insisted upon.

A Senate Democratic aide, however, cautioned that the numbers are still in flux and nothing is agreed to until GOP and Democratic leaders in both chambers sign off on the final deal.

The Hill's Alexander Bolton and Scott Wong have more here: http://bit.ly/2pj7mCZ


But wait... a top House Dem insists subsidies don't need to be in the spending bill

ObamaCare subsidies to help low-income patients do not need to be a part of a 2017 spending package, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday, muddling the message from House Democrats as leaders from both parties negotiate legislation to prevent a government shutdown.

Hoyer, the Democratic whip, on Tuesday said that while members of his party would welcome "clarifying language" surrounding the subsidies, he's not insisting that specific language be included, nor will he advise other Democrats to do so.

"We believe the president ought to fund it. And it doesn't need to be in the CR," Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol, referring to a continuing resolution to fund the government. "The president has the authority to go ahead and do it, and he ought to do it … and we believe if he doesn't, millions of people are going to be hurt."

Read more here: http://bit.ly/2oJgU76


Study: Government ObamaCare costs could rise $2.3 billion without insurer payments

The federal government could face a $2.3 billion net increase in costs if the Trump administration ends certain ObamaCare insurer payments, according to a study released Tuesday.

Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that while ending the insurance reimbursements for companies, known as cost-sharing reductions, may save the government $10 billion in the short term, it could also cost another $12.3 billion in tax credits.

Insurers who stay in the ObamaCare exchanges are likely to up their premiums to compensate for losing the payments. This in turn would increase the government's tax credits, according to the study.

"The increased tax credits would completely cover the increased premium for subsidized enrollees covered through the benchmark plan and cushion the effect for enrollees signed up for more expensive silver plans," Kaiser said in its study.

Read more here: http://bit.ly/2otcSE8


Meet the centrist trying to strike a deal on healthcare

Just over 30 years ago, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) was starting his career in the insurance industry and making $13,000 a year. Now, he's trying to find a path out of the woods for Republicans seeking to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

MacArthur is only serving his second term in the House, and he became a co-chairman of the centrist Tuesday Group just three months ago.

Yet he's emerged as an influential voice in the party's negotiations on healthcare reform even as the other two leaders of the Tuesday Group -- Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) -- have kept lower profiles.

Dent came out against the House GOP's first repeal-and-replace measure, while Stefanik never made her stance on it clear.

MacArthur, meanwhile, planned to vote for the bill, and he has been working to try to save it since leaders pulled it from the floor last month amid flagging support.

"I think you have to start with somebody who is supportive," MacArthur told The Hill. "Somebody who's not supportive of the bill is not going to try to improve it and make it better, necessarily."

Read more here: http://bit.ly/2pixZrP


Key Republican blasts Trump's mental health pick: President Trump's pick to tackle the nation's addiction and mental health crises won praise from advocates, but a top Republican is blasting the choice.

The president on Friday tapped Elinore McCance-Katz to serve as the first assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, a job within the health department created by last year's 21st Century Cures Act.

If the Senate confirms the post, she will take over duties as head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), overseeing the office and coordinating with other federal agencies.

Yet her nomination sparked harsh criticism from the Republican congressman who created the position, which could complicate he nomination.

"Dr. McCance-Katz served as Chief Medical Officer at the very time SAMHSA was under investigation for multiple failed practices and wasteful spending," Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) said in a statement.

"She was the key medical leader when the agency actively lobbied against any change or accountability, including when the Energy and Commerce Committee, indeed the entire Congress, was aiming to fix our nation's broken mental health system by passing the most transformational mental health reforms in a half century."

The Hill Extra's Rachel Roubein has more here: http://bit.ly/2pg2TyO


Poll: Majority of Americans wants to keep, fix ObamaCare: A majority of Americans want lawmakers to keep and fix ObamaCare rather than replace it with a Republican alternative, according to a new poll.

The ABC/Washington Post poll found that 61 percent of respondents want ObamaCare fixed instead of repealed and replaced.

Seventy-nine percent said President Trump should make ObamaCare work instead of letting it fail, as he has previously threatened.

The Hill's Brooke Seipel has more here: http://bit.ly/2q2wc8b


Poll: 50 percent have little or no confidence in GOP healthcare push: Half of Americans have little or no confidence that the GOP effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare would "make things better," according to a new survey.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 50 percent of respondents said they had little or no confidence that the GOP healthcare plan would improve the health insurance situation.

That's up 16 points from a poll conducted in February, when 34 percent reported having little or no confidence in the GOP healthcare legislation.

The new poll finds 18 percent have mixed feelings about the measure. Just 13 percent of respondents have some confidence in the GOP plan, and only 8 percent have a great deal of confidence in it.

The Hill's Rebecca Savransky breaks down the numbers here: http://bit.ly/2p1Vbdq


What we're reading

Desperate families driven to black market insulin (NBC News)

ObamaCare is getting more popular by the day (Vox)

FDA nominee joined effort to get a drug company more fentanyl (The Washington Post)


State by state

Wisconsin seeks to mandate drug test for Medicaid recipients (Boston Globe)

Vermont governor asks teachers to negotiate healthcare with state (Associated Press)

Massachusetts ranks 2nd best state for children's healthcare (masslive.com)