Overnight Health Care: House conservatives won't back spending bill with ObamaCare payments | State officials worry about mandate repeal | Trump donates paycheck to fight opioids

Overnight Health Care: House conservatives won't back spending bill with ObamaCare payments | State officials worry about mandate repeal | Trump donates paycheck to fight opioids

House conservatives said they won't support a short-term spending bill to fund the government if it contains provisions to "bail out" insurance companies.

A deal between moderate GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges GOP senators warn against Trump firing intelligence community official MORE (R-Maine), President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Graham: Senate trial 'must expose the whistleblower' Graham says Schiff should be a witness in Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.) would likely attach two bipartisan measures to stabilize ObamaCare's insurance markets to the spending bill in exchange for her vote on tax reform.

But conservatives say that wouldn't pass the House.

"We haven't repealed ObamaCare, we haven't cut taxes yet, and we haven't started construction on the border security wall like we told the voters. But before we get any of that stuff done we're going to bail out insurance companies in the spending bill?" said Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanGraham says Schiff should be a witness in Trump impeachment trial Democrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing House Republicans call impeachment hearing 'boring,' dismiss Taylor testimony as hearsay MORE (R-Ohio), the former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

"For me, I think probably largely for many of our members, that doesn't make sense. I wouldn't be supportive of that."

One of the measures, sponsored by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderPelosi aide hopeful White House will support drug-pricing bill despite criticism Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Juan Williams: Republicans flee Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban Retirement bill blocked in Senate amid fight over amendments Senate Democrats call on White House to abandon plan to collect DNA from migrants MORE (D-Wash.), would fund key ObamaCare insurer payments, called cost sharing reductions (CSR), for two years.


These payments reimburse insurers for giving discounted deductibles and copays to low-income patients but have been criticized by conservatives as a bailout of insurance companies.

The other bill, sponsored by Collins and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonBottom Line Bottom Line Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (D-Fla.), would fund "reinsurance," government funding to help pay for the costs of sick enrollees and bring down premium prices.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsDemocrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing House Republicans call impeachment hearing 'boring,' dismiss Taylor testimony as hearsay Key takeaways from first public impeachment hearing MORE (R-N.C.) said he likely would not support a spending bill that contains the Alexander-Murray language unless it also includes more concessions from Democrats. And he definitely wouldn't support a spending bill that appropriates money for the reinsurance.

Read more here.


Collins: Health-care fix will pass before tax bill

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said early Thursday that she expects legislation to lower health-care premiums to pass Congress before senators take a final vote on a $1.5 trillion tax-reform bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate.

Collins, speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, said it's a mistake to scrap the individual mandate without making other reforms to the health-care system.

"When you take out that one provision from the ACA it causes premiums to go up as healthier, younger people leave the market place," she said.

Senate GOP leaders at the urging of conservatives have added to the tax package a provision that would repeal ObamaCare's requirement that people purchase health coverage. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that could cause insurance premiums to rise and increase the number of uninsured by 13 million people by 2027.

To mitigate the impact, GOP leaders plan to pass legislation negotiated by Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) that would reinstate cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies.

Read more here.


McConnell promises Collins tax bill won't lead to Medicare cut

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is promising the GOP tax bill, which is projected to add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, will not result in cuts to Medicare next year.

McConnell offered the vow to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a key swing vote, during a Wednesday meeting in his office.

He said that he would stop an automatic spending cut to Medicare next year that is required by the "pay-as-you-go" or "pay-go" budgetary rule.

Collins told reporters Thursday that McConnell had offered his word.

Collins said she would not vote for the GOP tax plan if it were to result in $25 billion in Medicare cuts next year as part of $150 billion in mandatory spending cuts that would be required over the next ten years under pay-go.

Read more here.


Insurance officials worry mandate repeal will damage markets

Many state insurance officials, even some in red states, are warning that repealing ObamaCare's individual mandate in the GOP tax-reform bill would cause damage to their markets.

Insurance commissioners warn that premiums would rise, insurers could drop out of the market and more people would go without coverage if the mandate is repealed, as Senate Republicans are poised to do as part of their tax bill this week.

In addition to fulfilling a longtime GOP policy goal, repealing the mandate also helps Republicans pay for tax cuts in the bill, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that ending the rule would save about $338 billion over 10 years.

Tom Glause, the Wyoming insurance commissioner who was appointed by a Republican governor, said the damage would be particularly notable for people who make too much income to qualify for subsidies.

"If the mandate is repealed in the tax bill, you'll see a lot of those people going without coverage," Glause said.

Read more here.


Trump donates third quarter paycheck to battling opioid epidemic 

President Trump will donate his third-quarter salary to help his Health and Human Services Department battle the opioid epidemic, the White House announced Thursday.

Trump has pledged to donate his entire salary to various causes and has so far dedicated each of his quarterly $100,000 paychecks to different federal programs.

Trump previously donated his paychecks to the Education Department and the National Parks Service.

Read more here.


AARP comes out against Senate GOP bill, warns of Medicare cuts

The AARP said on Thursday that it opposes the Senate GOP tax bill, warning senators it could lead to billions of dollars in Medicare cuts.

In a letter to senators, the influential seniors group urged lawmakers to work on a bipartisan version that won't result in entitlement cuts.

"AARP is prepared to support tax legislation that makes the tax code more equitable and efficient, promotes growth, and produces sufficient revenue to pay for critical national programs, including Medicare and Medicaid," it wrote. "However, the Senate Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, in its current form, does not meet these criteria."

Read more here.


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From The Hill's opinion pages

ObamaCare contributed to the murder of health care, but it's not the only culprit

Sen. Collins, be the voice of reason again -- vote no on tax plan

Let's fix the cause, rather than the problem, of opioid addiction 


What we're reading

Hospitals with history get a second life (Kaiser Health News)

CVS Health closes in on deal to buy Aetna  (The Wall Street Journal)

ObamaCare enrollment could fall millions short for 2018 (CNN)


State by state

Charlottesville residents unite to protest likely surge in health-insurance premiums (The Wall Street Journal)

Texas confident in additional federal funding to extend CHIP through February (Dallas News)

Report: State cuts led to drop in therapy for young children on Gulf Coast (Houston Chronicle)