Overnight Health Care: ObamaCare sign-ups surge in early days

Overnight Health Care: ObamaCare sign-ups surge in early days
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A record number of people signed up for ObamaCare in the first few days of open enrollment this year compared to the same period in previous years, several sources close to the process told The Hill.

The surge in sign-ups, which was confirmed by an administration official, comes despite fears from Democrats that enrollment would fall off due to the Trump administration's cutbacks in outreach and advertising.

On the first day of enrollment alone, Nov. 1, one source close to the process told The Hill that more than 200,000 people selected a plan for 2018, compared to around 100,000 last year. More than 1 million people visited healthcare.gov that day, compared to around 750,000 last year, the source said.


It is still early in the process and it is unclear how the final sign-up numbers will come out. Sign-ups early in the enrollment season are often people renewing their coverage, not new enrollees.

Standard & Poor's forecasted last week that enrollment could drop by as much as 1.6 million people below last year's level of 12.2 million signups, in part due to uncertainty from the administration's actions.

The enrollment period is also about half as long this year, ending Dec. 15.

But the spike in sign-ups is some positive news for supporters of the health-care law who have been worrying about its fate under Republican control of Washington.

Read more here.


Reports claim Trump preparing executive order on ObamaCare mandate


The White House is reportedly preparing an executive order to weaken ObamaCare's individual mandate in the event congressional Republicans don't include the measure in the tax-reform bill.

According to the Washington Examiner and The Washington Post, the draft executive order would seek to broaden the "hardship exemptions" to the requirement that taxpayers must demonstrate proof of insurance or pay a fine.

The White House denies such an order exists, and told The Hill when asked for comment that any changes to the mandate are best made by Congress.

Read more here.


Ryan: ObamaCare mandate repeal up for consideration in tax bill

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's relationship with top House Republican is frosty The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only MORE (R-Wis.) said on Sunday that repealing ObamaCare's individual mandate is being discussed in talks surrounding the Republican tax-reform plan.

"We have an active conversation with our members and a whole host of ideas on things to add to this bill. And that's one of the things that's being discussed," Ryan told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."

"We're listening to our members about what we can do to add to this bill to make it even better. So that's among the ideas that a lot of members are suggesting that we could add to this bill to make it even better," he continued.

Read more here.


Meet the GOP senator quietly pushing an ObamaCare fix

When Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThe Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality MORE (R-Tenn.) waded into a crowded hallway of reporters outside a closed-door GOP meeting last month and announced a bipartisan ObamaCare deal, Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsGOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Democrats, GOP agree on one thing: They're skeptical of a deal Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban MORE (R-S.D.) was right at his side.

Rounds, a former insurance agent, had been quietly working with Alexander to forge a deal with Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBiden's pre-K plan is a bipartisan opportunity to serve the nation's children Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (Wash.) and other Democrats aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets.


Now he's trying to sell the deal to skeptical colleagues who don't want to be seen as propping up a law they revile.

"We just kept track on cards who we'd talked to and who we hadn't talked to and whether they were interested in more information or they wanted copies of the bill as we proceeded to develop it," Rounds told The Hill in an interview in his office, where a large Bison head and a whiteboard with the latest South Dakota grain prices greet visitors.

Read more here.


Trump's anti-opioid advertising campaign needs millions

President Trump's plan to use a blizzard of advertising to help stem the opioid crisis faces a serious funding challenge.

Similar initiatives have been backed by hundreds of millions in federal funding, but it's not clear if -- or how soon -- the money for Trump's initiative could come.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who helmed the president's opioid commission, says the onus is on Congress to provide an influx of funding to curb the crisis of prescription painkiller and heroin overdose deaths plaguing the country.

But it often takes time to get additional funding through Congress. Though the opioid epidemic has been a bright spot of bipartisanship in the past, it's far from certain an influx in federal funds could come quickly.

Read more here.


Dem seeks answers from opioid treatment maker

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisImmigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border Priest who presided over Biden's inaugural mass resigns from university post after investigation MORE (D-Calif.) is requesting information from Alkermes, the maker of an opioid addiction treatment, over recent news reports alleging the pharmaceutical company aggressively lobbied to increase its sales.

"According to these reports, Alkermes has targeted much of its promotion for Vivitrol at law enforcement officials and lawmakers, efforts which have included the assignment of sales representatives to judges overseeing drug courts and free shots to inmates leaving jails and prisons," Harris wrote in a letter Monday to Alkermes's CEO and chairman, Richard Pops.


Alkermes makes Vivitrol, a monthly shot that's used to treat addiction.

In the letter, Harris requests information from Alkermes, such as financial transactions, internal presentations and talking points, activities of Vivitrol sales representatives, studies on how Vivitrol compares to other medications and more.

Addiction experts have said Alkermes is unfairly painting itself as the best option for addiction, whereas different drugs are meant for different patients.

Read more here.


The Hill event

Join The Hill on Tuesday, November 7, for America's Opioid Epidemic: Strategies for Prevention featuring FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenArmy secretary nominee concerned about 'unreasonable or unhelpful demands' on National Guard DC statehood bill picks up Senate holdout US is leaving, but Afghan women to fight on for freedoms MORE (D-N.H.). Topics of conversation include the response to the opioid crisis, prevention initiatives, and the role education might play in lowering addiction rates. 


Op-eds from The Hill

New tax plan will hinder care for older Americans

When ObamaCare costs more than leasing a Rolls-Royce


What we're reading

Doctors are getting rich on urine tests for opioid patients (Bloomberg)

For addicted doctors, confidential treatment that works (Stateline)


State by state

New York struggles to provide prison health care (Oneonta Daily Star)

Wisconsin assembly passes bill that would forbid state health insurance from paying abortions for state workers (Wisconsin State Journal)  

Enriched by the poor: California health insurers make billions through Medicaid (khn.org)


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