Overnight Health Care: CBO predicts 15 percent ObamaCare premium hike | Trump calls Sanders single-payer plan ‘curse on the US’ | Republican seeks score of Sanders’s bill

Overnight Health Care: CBO predicts 15 percent ObamaCare premium hike | Trump calls Sanders single-payer plan ‘curse on the US’ | Republican seeks score of Sanders’s bill
© Getty

Premiums for ObamaCare's benchmark silver plans will increase by an average of 15 percent in 2018 due primarily to "short-term market uncertainty," the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in a new report released Thursday.

Insurers have pleaded for more certainty on key ObamaCare payments called cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which reimburse them for giving discounts to low-income patients.

The Trump administration has made the payments on a month-to-month basis, but insurers want them funded on a long-term basis. The uncertainty is leading them to raise premiums.

Insurers must sign contracts by Sept. 27 to be able to participate in the ObamaCare markets next year.

Also contributing to higher premiums in 2018, CBO said, is a higher percentage of the population living in areas with only one ObamaCare insurer.

Read more here.


Trump calls Sanders single-payer plan a 'curse on the U.S.'

President Trump on Thursday called Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE's (I-Vt.) "Medicare for all" plan a "curse on the U.S."

"Bernie Sanders is pushing hard for a single payer healthcare plan - a curse on the U.S. & its people," Trump tweeted.

"I told Republicans to approve healthcare fast or this would happen. But don't worry, I will veto because I love our country & its people."

Read more here.


House votes to block DC reproductive health law

The House voted on Thursday to prevent the District of Columbia from receiving funding to implement a local law making it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers based on reproductive health decisions.

An amendment offered by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) to a 2018 government-spending package would prohibit the use of funds for the District to implement the law, which bans employers from punishing workers for obtaining contraception, family planning services or abortions.

Palmer's amendment was adopted on a mostly party-line vote of 214-194. Eleven Republicans joined with all but two Democrats in opposing the effort.

Read the full story here.


Senator asks for CBO score of Sanders's single-payer bill

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoWhy grizzly bear hunting season isn’t happening Trump poised to sign bipartisan water infrastructure bill Dems to force health care vote weeks before Nov. midterms MORE (R-Wyo.) is asking congressional scorekeepers to analyze the cost of Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) "Medicare for all" bill, which could fuel Republican attacks that a single-payer system would bankrupt the country.

In a letter to the head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Barrasso -- the Senate Republican Policy Committee chairman -- wrote he was "deeply concerned that Senator Sanders' Medicare-for-All legislation is not only a government takeover of health care, but would also put financial burdens on the American people that they cannot sustain."

He cited a 2016 cost estimate from the left-leaning Urban Institute that a previous plan from Sanders would cost $32 trillion over 10 years.

Additionally, Barrasso is seeking an analysis of the economic impact of the bill and a revenue estimate on Sanders's proposals to finance the new system, which were released in a separate document Wednesday.

Read more here.


Walden hints at nursing home oversight in wake of Irma deaths

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said his committee may begin looking at oversight of nursing facilities following the deaths of eight people in a Florida nursing home.

The deaths occurred after the South Florida facility apparently lost its air conditioning amid widespread power outages in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The storm knocked out power for millions of people across the state.

"Some of these nursing home situations are very troubling ... because that's the most vulnerable population," Walden told reporters Thursday. "So I think we'll want to get answers to that."

Read more here


Dems offer alternative to Trump administration's child care proposal

Democrats are offering an alternative to the child-care plan being pushed by the Trump administration.

On Thursday, Democrats rolled out the "Child Care for Working Families Act," which would focus on reducing child-care costs for low- and moderate-income families while boosting pay for child-care providers.

The bill will become part of the Democrats' "Better Deal" agenda, an economic messaging campaign designed to make inroads with working-class voters in 2018.

Specifically, the bill would ensure that families earning less than 150 percent of their state's median income would pay no more than 7 percent of their income on child care; support universal access to preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year-olds; and improve compensation and training for the child-care workforce.

Read more here.


Senate health panel aims for deal on stabilizing markets next week

The Senate's health panel intends to craft a bipartisan bill to stabilize the insurance markets by early next week, enabling the full Senate to pass it by the end of the month, according to Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' Senate defeats measure to overturn Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans MORE (R-Tenn.).

Alexander laid out the goal Thursday during the Health Committee's fourth hearing on stabilizing the markets ahead of a Sept. 27 deadline for insurers to sign contracts to sell plans on HealthCare.gov, with open enrollment beginning Nov. 1. Last week, Alexander said he'd hoped for a deal by the end of this week.

Read more here.


ObamaCare enrollment groups learn extent of Trump cuts

State and local groups now know how much funding they'll have to help enroll people in the ObamaCare exchanges after the Trump administration slashed the total grant money available, according to two sources.

The groups, known as navigators, have been worried over their funding for ObamaCare enrollment, outreach and education. On Aug. 31, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the total funds available for these groups would decrease from $62.5 million to $36.8 million, a 41 percent cut.

Their grant funds ran out at the beginning of the month, and they will not be paid retroactively for the first two weeks of September, according to one source. In preparation, some groups laid off staff and cut salaries.

Now, navigators will be analyzing their new budgets ahead of an ObamaCare enrollment season beginning Nov. 1.

Read more here.


What we're reading

Graham to Trump: Focus on ObamaCare repeal, not DACA (Politico)

Uproar builds over secret doctor panel that influences Medicare (Axios)

In the future, surviving a heroin overdose may depend on which county you live in (Bloomberg)


State by state

Former Kentucky governor says let's stick with ObamaCare (HuffPo)

Florida nursing home case: Many questions, and few answers, after 8 patients die (NPR)

Massachusetts bends under health care spending bar in 2016 (WBUR)