Overnight Health Care: Collins confident health subsidies will be in spending bill | 4.7M have signed up for ObamaCare

Overnight Health Care: Collins confident health subsidies will be in spending bill | 4.7M have signed up for ObamaCare
© Greg Nash

Funding for key ObamaCare insurer subsidies is likely to be included in the upcoming government funding bill, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP aims to confirm Trump court pick by Oct. 29: report The Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting Senate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot MORE (R-Maine) said Wednesday.

Collins said she had received reassurances Tuesday from Vice President Pence that the subsidies, opposed by House conservatives, would be in the funding bill.

"The vice president and I had a discussion yesterday that reinforced that agreement that the bills will be considered before the end of the year," Collins said.

Collins told reporters she is confident that deal will be honored in the upcoming government spending bill, and a key conservative in the House backed up her confidence.


"I think she has every reason to believe that it'll be included," said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHouse moves toward spending vote after bipartisan talks House Democrats mull delay on spending bill vote Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE (R-N.C.). "I'm not supportive of that position, but I don't know that she's misled in her confidence."

The Maine senator, a swing vote on the tax bill, reached an agreement with Senate GOP leaders that she would vote for the tax package as long as two bipartisan ObamaCare bills were passed before the end of the year.

One bill, sponsored by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGraham: GOP has votes to confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy This week: Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg's seat upends Congress's agenda MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate Democrats introduce legislation to probe politicization of pandemic response Trump health officials grilled over reports of politics in COVID-19 response CDC director pushes back on Caputo claim of 'resistance unit' at agency MORE (D-Wash.), would temporarily fund ObamaCare's cost-sharing reduction payments. Another would provide "reinsurance" -- money to pay for the costs of sick enrollees and bring down premiums.

Together, the bills would shore up ObamaCare's insurance markets, which experts predict could be gutted by a provision of the tax bill that repeals the mandate to buy health insurance

Just a few days ago, though, House conservatives showed little willingness to fund subsidies they see as bailing out a law they oppose. 

Read more here.


4.7 million have signed up for ObamaCare plans

More than 4.7 million people have signed up for ObamaCare plans in six weeks of open enrollment, according to numbers released by the Trump administration Wednesday. 

More than 1 million people signed up in the sixth week, which ran from Dec. 3 through Dec. 9, including 389,000 new customers. 

That's higher than the 823,000 people who signed up in week five of open enrollment, which spanned from Nov. 26 through Dec. 2.

People had been enrolling at a faster rate than last year in prior weeks, though there wasn't a large difference this week.

But because open enrollment is only half as long as it was last year, experts expect that the number of total people who sign up for the exchanges could will short of previous years.

Open enrollment ends Friday for most states.

Read more here.


Maryland extends ObamaCare enrollment deadline

Maryland is extending the deadline by one week for people to enroll in ObamaCare through its state exchange.

The new deadline is Dec. 22. The previous deadline would have been Friday, the same date for states that use the healthcare.gov federal exchange.

"While enrollments have been very strong so far this year, we want to ensure that everyone in Maryland in need of 2018 health coverage has additional time to shop and enroll," Howard Haft, interim executive director for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said in a statement.

Read more here.


Pennsylvania gov vows to veto 20-week abortion ban passed by state legislature 

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) vowed to veto a bill passed by the state's legislature that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

"This bill is an attack on women, and it should never have reached my desk," Wolf tweeted Wednesday. 

"I will veto it, because all Pennsylvania women deserve to make their own health care decisions." 

Under current Pennsylvania law, abortions aren't permitted after 24 weeks, but there are exceptions if the life of the mother is endangered.

The bill would move that limit up to 20 weeks and keep the current exceptions. It doesn't allow exceptions for rape or incest.

Read more here.


GOP chairman: Children's health funding must be attached to spending bill 

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenTrump order on drug prices faces long road to finish line Ignore the misinformation: The FDA will ensure the safety of any COVID-19 vaccine Hillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video MORE (R-Ore.) said Tuesday that funding for a major children's health insurance program needs to be included in a short-term funding bill later this month. 

The comments from Walden, whose panel oversees the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), add urgency to the push to renew authorization for the program covering 9 million children, which expired at the end of September and has been caught up in partisan fighting over how to pay for an extension. 

Lobbyists say some House GOP staffers have been talking about waiting until a larger funding bill in January to fund CHIP, but Walden is calling for taking care of the issue sooner, on a short-term bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep the government running beyond Dec. 22.

"It needs to go on the CR," Walden told reporters.

"We are well past any reasonable deadline for moving forward on CHIP," Walden said. "States are suffering. Children and families are getting these notices. It's unconscionable."

Read more here.


What we're reading

Inside the government's war on microbes (Politico)

Consumers who froze their credit reports could hit a glitch in enrolling in insurance (Kaiser Health News)

Native Americans feel invisible in U.S. health care system (NPR)


State by state

Fighting opioid addiction, Massachusetts considers involuntary rehab (Wall Street Journal

States sound alarm warning that kids' health insurance is at risk (NPR)

Lawmakers, residents decry state health cuts (greenwichtime.com)