Dems pivot to offering ObamaCare improvements – BY MIKE LILLIS – 07/29/17 04:25 PM EDT


House Democrats are poised to advance a flood of proposals designed to address the problems dogging President Obama’s signature healthcare law –– a move that puts pressure on Republican and Democratic leaders alike.

The strategy marks a pivot for the Democrats, as party leaders have throughout the year discouraged members from offering improvements to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), fearing they would highlight problems with the law and divert attention from the Republicans’ months-long struggle to repeal and replace it.

But rank-and-file Democrats are getting restless, with some saying they can no longer tell constituents they oppose the Republicans’ repeal bills without offering solutions of their own.

“When I go back to the district, they want to know what you’re going to do,” said Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.).

“Resisting is no longer just enough, they want to see what your plan is.”

Following the early-morning failure of the Senate Republicans’ ObamaCare repeal bill on Friday, the Democrats –– leaders and rank-and-file members alike –– ramped up the pressure on GOP leaders to reach across the aisle and work on bipartisan ACA fixes.

“We can go right to the committees and have a discussion on how we keep America healthy,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters in the Capitol.

The bipartisan approach has been floated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), but House GOP leaders don’t appear ready to move beyond their repeal effort. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Friday urged Senate Republicans not to abandon the fight.

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POTUS threatens to gut Obamacare markets – Josh Dawsey 07/18/2017 04:56 PM EDT


The president has repeatedly told aides and advisers that he wants to end the subsidy payments, and he has not changed his position.

Donald Trump holds a fuse in his hands — and he could decide to light it and blow up Obamacare insurance markets as soon as Thursday.

That’s the deadline for sending out the next monthly Affordable Care Act subsidies to health plans to defray the cost of care for individuals with low incomes. The president has toyed for months with the idea of stopping the payments to force Democrats to the negotiating table to avoid the prospect of millions of vulnerable Americans losing access to health coverage.

Trump has repeatedly told aides and advisers that he wants to end the subsidy payments, and he has not changed his position, according to several people who have spoken with him. “Why are we making these payments?” Trump has asked.

With Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal effort in shambles and GOP leaders lacking the votes to bring a bill to the floor, Trump could finally follow through in a bid to regain the upper hand.

“My advice to the plans this morning was, ‘If you get it, cash the check quickly,’” one health care lobbyist who represents insurers said Tuesday.

Two White House officials said a final decision on the subsidies had not been made. One person said various aides and advisers had issued conflicting opinions in recent days.

Asked whether Trump would actually pull the plug, a different administration official said this time is “different” — and that administration officials had begun looking at how they would end the payments. “But no decision has been made,” the official said.

Immediately halting the subsidies — estimated to be $7 billion this year — would likely tip the already shaky Obamacare markets into chaos. Insurers already are queasy about the uncertainty roiling the marketplaces as the 2018 open enrollment season approaches.

House Republicans sued to block the subsidy payments in 2014, arguing that they were illegally funded by the Obama administration. They prevailed at the lower court level, but that decision is being appealed. That means the Trump administration has discretion to decide unilaterally whether the payments continue.

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McConnell says GOP must shore up ACA insurance markets if Senate bill dies- By Juliet Eilperin and Amy Goldstein July 6 at 8:44 PM


The Republicans’ time-crunched effort to pass a health-care bill is hitting a lot of resistance in the Senate. The Post’s Paige Cunningham explains five key reasons the party is struggling to move their plan forward. (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that if his party fails to muster 50 votes for its plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act, it will have no choice but to draft a more modest bill with Democrats to support the law’s existing insurance markets.

The remarks, made at a Rotary Club lunch in Glasgow, Ky., represent a significant shift for the veteran legislator. While he had raised the idea last week that Republicans may have to turn to Democrats if they cannot pass their own bill, his words mark the first time he has explicitly raised the prospect of shoring up the ACA.

“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” McConnell said. “No action is not an alternative. We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.”

McConnell, who pledged in 2014 to eradicate the law also known as Obamacare “root and branch,” initially raised the prospect of having to work with Democrats last week after he pulled a measure he had crafted behind closed doors. That bill would jettison the ACA’s requirement that most individuals prove they have health coverage, would repeal or delay billions in taxes imposed under the current law and would make deep, long-term cuts to the nation’s Medicaid program.

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More than half of Americans approve of Obamacare now, Gallup poll finds – by Tami Luhby April 5, 2017: 2:42 PM ET


Obamacare is more popular now than it was on Election Day, despite President Trump and the GOP’s efforts to dismantle it.

Some 55% of Americans now support the Affordable Care Act, up from 42% in November, a new Gallup Poll found. This is the first time that a majority of Americans have approved of the health reform law since Gallup asked in November 2012.

The Gallup poll results are more positive than some other polls, though all have shown an uptick in support of the law since the election. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 46% of respondents have a favorable opinion, down a bit from its March survey, but up from the 43% in November.

Americans’ view of Obamacare are split along party lines, though all groups view the law more favorably now, according to Gallup. Some 86% of Democrats and 57% of independents approve it, while 17% of Republicans do. But, in November, only 7% of Republicans felt this way.

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House Republicans Would Let Employers Demand Workers’ Genetic Test Results – By Sharon Begley, STAT on March 10, 2017


A controversial measure may be included in future healthcare reform

Credit: William Thomas Cain Getty Images

A little-noticed bill moving through Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information.

Giving employers such power is now prohibited by legislation including the 2008 genetic privacy and nondiscrimination law known as GINA. The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a “workplace wellness” program.

The bill was approved by a House committee on Wednesday, with all 22 Republicans supporting it and all 17 Democrats opposed. It has been overshadowed by the debate over the House GOP proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but the genetic testing bill is expected to be folded into a second ACA-related measure containing a grab-bag of provisions that do not affect federal spending, as the main bill does.

A little-noticed bill moving through Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information.

Giving employers such power is now prohibited by legislation including the 2008 genetic privacy and nondiscrimination law known as GINA. The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a “workplace wellness” program.

The bill was approved by a House committee on Wednesday, with all 22 Republicans supporting it and all 17 Democrats opposed. It has been overshadowed by the debate over the House GOP proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but the genetic testing bill is expected to be folded into a second ACA-related measure containing a grab-bag of provisions that do not affect federal spending, as the main bill does.

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Sanders and Cruz debate ObamaCare on CNN: live coverage – BY PETER SULLIVAN AND WILL SOMMER – 02/07/17 08:48 PM EST


bernie_sanders_ted_cruzCruz, Sanders close debate on ObamaCare: Broken promises or a step in the right direction

The debate came to an end with Sen. Ted Cruz arguing ObamaCare had failed to live up to its promises, while Sen. Bernie Sanders said it is a step in the right direction.

Cruz pointed to promises like “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” as proof say the law had failed.

“Those are broken promises,” he said.

Cruz called for more options for American consumers.

“It was government control that messed this all up,” he said, adding: “Instead we’re going to give you choice.”

He called for the institution of long-promoted Republican policies like allowing insurance to be sold across state lines and expanding Health Savings Accounts.

Sanders stressed his theme that ObamaCare is a step in the right direction toward a single-payer system.

He said ObamaCare had provided crucial consumer protections, like for people with pre-existing conditions. “Under Ted’s idea all of that is gone, you are on your own,” Sanders said.

But he said there is more work to be done, since some people are still struggling. “What kind of craziness is this?” he said. “We are the wealthiest country in the history of the world.”

Cruz, Sanders find a bit of agreement

The senators found some agreement on the area of high drug prices, saying that lower-cost drugs should be imported from abroad.

Sanders, though, called for going further and allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

“The pharmaceutical industry owns the United States Congress,” Sanders said.

“It’s not just Republicans,” he added.

In addition to importation, Cruz pointed to speeding up the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process for new drugs.

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Poll: Most Americans Say Don’t Repeal Obamacare Without A Replacement – ALISON KODJAK January 6, 20173:01 AM ET


 An overwhelming majority of people disapprove of Republican lawmakers’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act without having a ready replacement for the health care law, according to a poll released Friday.

And judging by the letter-writing and lobbying in the first week of the new Congressional session, many health care and business groups agree.

poll released Friday by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 75 percent of Americans say they either want lawmakers to leave Obamacare alone, or repeal it only when they can replace it with a new health care law. Twenty percent of those polled say that want to see the law killed immediately.

But Drew Altman, CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, says the poll shows lawmakers don’t have a strong mandate to repeal Obamcare.

“Most of the American people said they’re either against repealing it or they’re against repealing it unless Republicans put a replacement plan on the table,” Altman says. “They want to see what comes next before they seen the ACA repealed.”

Americans are about equally divided over whether Congress should repeal Obamacare, the poll shows. But of the 48 percent who want the law rolled back, about 60 percent want lawmakers to wait until they have an alternative plan.

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