Senators are seriously considering keeping in place some ObamaCare taxes for longer than the House-passed bill would as they seek to draft healthcare legislation that can pass their chamber with a simple majority.
Republicans are looking to slowly phase out extra federal funds for Medicaid expansion, beef up the new tax credits for buying insurance and add money for opioid abuse treatment — but they’ll have to pay for it to ensure the bill passes muster.
That’s because the Senate healthcare bill must save at least as much money as the House’s legislation.
The Affordable Care Act’s worst enemies are now in charge of the vast range of health coverage the law created. They’re also discussing changes that could affect a wider net of employment-based policies and Medicare coverage for seniors.
Although Republicans failed last month in their first attempt to repeal and replace the ACA, President Donald Trump vows the effort will continue. And even if Congress does nothing, Trump has suggested he might sit by and “let Obamacare explode.”
Health insurance for the 20 million who benefited from the ACA’s expanded coverage is especially at risk. But they’re not the only ones potentially affected. Here’s how what’s going on in Washington might touch you.
Last year, when presidential candidate Donald Trump hammered the Affordable Care Act as “a fraud,” “a total disaster” and “very bad health insurance,” many Americans seemed to agree with him.
Now that President Trump and fellow Republicans are attempting to keep their promise to get rid of the law, voters increasingly seem to be having second thoughts.
There’s a moment in the Broadway musical Hamilton where George Washington says to an exasperated Alexander Hamilton: “Winning is easy, young man. Governing’s harder.”
When it comes to health care, it seems that President Trump is learning that same lesson. Trump and Republicans in Congress are struggling with how to keep their double-edged campaign promise — to repeal Obamacare without leaving milions of people without health insurance.
Republicans are increasingly talking about repairing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, a softening of tone that comes as their drive to fulfill a keystone campaign promise encounters disunity, drooping momentum and uneasy voters.
GOP lawmakers insist they haven’t abandoned their goal of repeal, though they face lingering disputes about whether that vote should come before, after or simultaneously with a replacement effort.
Republicans are going to kill Obamacare — but first they might have to save it.
The already fragile Obamacare markets — beset by soaring premiums and fleeing insurers — are likely to collapse unless Republicans take deliberate steps to stabilize them while they build consensus on a replacement plan, say health care experts. That could lead to a mess for the roughly 10 million Americans currently getting coverage through the government-run marketplaces — and backlash against the GOP.
David Harsanyi, is a senior editor at The Federalist and is also the author of “The People Have Spoken (And They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy.” According to his recent article in The Detroit Free Press, Harsnayi is suggesting that blame not be placed at the doorstep of the GOP for any Obamacare disorganization, noting, “Not a single Republican voted for Obamacare. Most, in fact, cautioned that passing the largest healthcare reform in American History – – written by one party, jammed through using reconciliation, and haphazardly implemented – could be problematic. Now they have to act?”
Harsanyi also cites findings by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which estimate that 37 U.S. states have refused to establish healthcare exchanges, and that those same states could see an average increase of 287 percent – should the High Court ruling in King versus Burwell not be favorable towards Obama. That number would be 650 percent in Mississppi. Harsanyi concludes these amounts only serve to show that, “exchanges have not made insurance markets more competitive or affordable as promised.”
A June 6, 2014 report by Martha Lynn Craver in Kiplinger said “tensions remain, and the rhetorical battle is still being waged, but Republicans lost the war to kill the controversial health care law, and most of them accept that as political reality. Instead the focus will shift to making new changes in the law, some of them substantive over the next few years.”
Yet, most organizations, according to Kiplinger, will still continue to offer their employees health coverage.
Craver also cites business’ goals including redefining what a full time employee is, and seeing stripped-down “copper” plans with lower premiums. The private sector would also like a deferment of the steep Obamacare excise tax which is currently 40 percent, set to begin in 2018.
Other Obamacare issues outlined by Craver’s report: additional delays in key Obamacare deadlines which Craver’s says are zero.
From The Blaze online, June 5, is a report by Pete Kaserowicz saying Sylvia Mathews Burwell has been confirmed by the Senate as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Underlying this good news for her is how split the U.S. Senate was during the period of the confirmation vote. The Blaze reports, “Burwell’s confirmation was never in doubt, as the Senate only needed a simple majority to approve her, and Democrats have a majority in the upper chamber. But many Republicans were expected to support her given her unanimous Senate confirmation to become the director of the Office of Management and Budget.”
The Blaze account outlines Republican divisions which may remain. While Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he would cast a vote for Burwell, 17 Republicans voted against her. Others maintain their vote was a protest against putting Obamacare into effect, rather than a no vote against Burwell.
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said while he likes Burwell as a person, he concurrently believes her “failure to control the federal debt while at OMB, as well as her lack of qualifications to run HHS,” add up to a no vote. “I take no pleasure in opposing her nomination, but she lacks the background necessary to assume responsibility for this important agency.”
During the time of nomination and confirmation process for Burwell, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Senate should be focusing on scrapping the ACA, and “not changing out leadership at the top.”
Have House Republicans run out of things to say on Obamacare? According to a May 12 article in The Hill.com, there are no House-level planned votes or hearings on the Affordable Care Act ─ at least in the foreseeable future.
Is this a new GOP strategy? The GOP has failed to say whether the party will initiate new efforts regarding Obamacare. The Hill said, “The lack of action highlights the GOP’s struggle to adjust its message now that enrollment in the exchanges beat projections and the uninsured rate is going down. Insurers also report that 80 to 90 percent of new policyholders are paying their premiums, contradicting a frequent criticism from the GOP.”
In the Senate, polarized debate virtually evaporated during confirmation hearings for HHS Secretary nominee, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. However, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Brook Hougesen said, “There is absolutely zero evidence that any Republican is talking about ObamaCare less.”