Overnight Health Care: 24 senators co-sponsor ObamaCare deal | Trump now ‘open’ to bipartisan fix | Graham, Cassidy try to push deal to the right
The bipartisan deal to stabilize ObamaCare’s markets has 24 co-sponsors, Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced Thursday.
Twelve Republicans and 12 Democrats signed on to the bill, which would continue ObamaCare’s insurer subsidies for two years and give states more flexibility to waive ObamaCare rules.
“This is a first step. Improve it and pass it sooner rather than later,” Alexander said on the Senate floor.
But Republicans likely wouldn’t put the bill on the floor of the Senate without the expressed approval from President Trump, who has sent mixed messages.
Responding to that criticism Thursday, Alexander said he was open to adding any language the White House might have to strengthen a provision already in the bill to ensure that insurers can’t keep the payments for themselves, but rather have to pass savings on to consumers in the form of rebates or another mechanism.
The proposal also likely faces an uphill battle in the House.
Read more here.
Alexander urges GOP to change course on ObamaCare
Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on Thursday told GOP colleagues bluntly that their efforts to repeal ObamaCare have failed and urged them to change course.
Alexander said Republicans need to come up with a new path on health care after holding dozens of votes over the years to repeal ObamaCare and always ending in failure.
“We’ve had about 50 votes, maybe more, and we lost them all. And we made thousands of speeches and we lost them all,” Alexander said on the Senate floor.
He said that insisting on full repeal of the controversial law when the votes aren’t there would only hurt millions of Americans and could eventually lead to a single-payer health-care system if the current one collapses.
Read more here.
Trump: ‘I’m open’ to ObamaCare deal
President Trump on Thursday indicated an openness to a bipartisan short-term ObamaCare stabilization deal introduced in the Senate.
“We will probably like a very short-term solution until we hit the block grants,” Trump said. “If they can do something like that, I’m open to it.”
Trump reiterated his support for repealing ObamaCare and noted that any deal would have to be short-term because the GOP is on the verge of passing a repeal bill.
But White House wants substantial changes to deal
The White House says that substantial changes must be made to a bipartisan health-care deal for President Trump to support it.
The changes would push the bill to the right, raising serious doubt about whether Democrats would agree to the deal.
A White House official said Wednesday night that the deal should include “relief” from ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which requires that people have health insurance. The mandate is a central component of ObamaCare of which Democrats are protective and Republicans critical.
Read more here.
Graham, Cassidy try to push deal to the right
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) say they are working to make changes to a bipartisan health-care deal to make it more likely to win favor in the House.
Graham and Cassidy, authors of a failed bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare earlier this year, are supporting a bipartisan measure aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare, but they are also looking for changes to move the proposal to the right.
They are working with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who has been pushing for changes to the bipartisan bill that would move the bill to the right and possibly make it more palatable to the more conservative House GOP.
Johnson has previously said that the changes he is pushing for include conservative changes like increasing the duration of short-term health insurance plans, expanding health savings accounts, not enforcing the mandate for employers to provide coverage and waiving the penalty under the individual insurance mandate for not having coverage in 2017.
Read more here.
ObamaCare allies fear deal won’t mitigate Trump attacks
ObamaCare supporters are worried that President Trump’s attacks on the law will depress enrollment and confuse consumers, inflicting damage that can’t be fixed even if Congress comes up with a bipartisan health-care deal.
Open enrollment begins in less than two weeks, and advocates are bracing for a drop in the number of people signing up amid the Trump administration’s months-long campaign against ObamaCare.
Just last week, Trump canceled key ObamaCare insurer payments and signed an executive order on health care, moves critics say are attempts to weaken the law.
“I think you have to expect you’ll see less people on the exchanges,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
“The president is working really hard to make sure enrollment numbers are as weak as possible,” he added.
Read more here.
Dems introduce bill to overrule Trump on birth control mandate
Nineteen Senate Democrats have signed on to a bill that would reverse the Trump administration’s new exemption for ObamaCare’s birth control mandate.
The administration recently announced it will allow most employers to stop providing birth control coverage in their insurance plans if they have moral or religious objections.
Democrats say the move endangers birth control coverage for millions of women, including those who are prescribed contraceptives for health reasons.
Bipartisan group of governors calls on Congress to stabilize markets
A bipartisan group of 10 governors is calling on Congress to vote on a deal to stabilize ObamaCare’s insurance markets.
“We urge Congress to quickly pass legislation to stabilize our private health insurance markets and make quality health insurance more available and affordable,” the governors wrote Wednesday in a letter to House and Senate leaders from both parties.
“Senators Alexander and Murray have negotiated in good faith and developed a bipartisan agreement that will help achieve these goals,” the letter continued, referencing the deal brokered by Senate Health Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Op-eds from The Hill
Opioid epidemic exposé simplifies America’s real path to addiction, by Hadley Heath Manning from the Independent Women’s Forum
Here’s a plan to make health insurance more affordable for all Americans, by Gregory K. Smith, retired resident and CEO of Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Join us Tuesday, October 24, for America’s Opioid Epidemic: Aging & Addiction, featuring Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). Topics include the opioid epidemic’s impact on older Americans, initiatives to curb opioid abuse, and alternative solutions to pain management. RSVP Here
What we’re reading
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State by State
Illinois receives ‘C’ for inmate mental health care (Bloomington Pantagraph)
Delaware’s health care navigators gear up for Nov. 1 ACA open enrollment (Delaware Public Media)
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