Ryan: GOP putting ‘finishing touches’ on healthcare bill

Mental Health Task Force/ Make It Work Milwaukee Update

We wanted to share these updates indicating that a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and radically change and reduce funding for Medicaid is moving forward and may come for a vote in the House of Representatives as soon as next Wednesday. Now is the time to call your Congressional Representative and ask for a time to meet and share your concerns.

Here is an update from The Hill about the healthcare bill:

Ryan: GOP putting ‘finishing touches’ on healthcare bill

See below for an additional update from VoxCare.

VoxCare: I’m not sure how to tell you this, but Trumpcare is back

Trumpcare is back. We already had Zombie Trumpcare, so I’m calling this Vampire Trumpcare. It awakens from the dead, again and again, to haunt the countryside (and your health policy Twitter list).

Anyway, it was a crazy day in health care. Let’s make some sense of it.

—Dylan Scott

Leaders of the moderate and archconservative wings of the House Republican conference think they have a deal that could revive the American Health Care Act (like I said, I’m calling it Vampire Trumpcare, and you should too).

The deal would technically keep Obamacare’s core insurance reforms, but also allow states to waive them if they set up a high-risk pool. Sarah explained the policy consequences — if a state took that option, health plans could charge sick people more for insurance and offer skimpier plans.

There are two important points to understand here.

Republicans still might not have the votes. I asked a collection of conservative and moderate aides as well as GOP lobbyists, and nobody is sure this tweak will get the bill to 216 votes. That tracks with what some top Hill reporters relayed today, as the White House pushed a plan for the House to vote Wednesday that quickly looked unrealistic.

The White House has a big incentive to make it look like something is happening. The AHCA’s failure was a major embarrassment, and they are approaching the 100-day milestone with no legislative accomplishments. Plus, they aren’t ready to move on a tax reform bill. So the appearance of activity on health care is better than nothing.

Lawmakers in the centrist and conservative cohorts also want to shift the blame, either to the other group or, if they somehow pass something out of the House, to the Senate.

“I think they are just trying to save face in the House and couldn’t care less what happens to it in the Senate,” one GOP lobbyist told me.

The bill seems stuck in a vicious cycle as lawmakers try to appease both extremes of the GOP.

Think of it as the Obamacare ouroboros. (That’s the snake that eats its own tail, symbolizing eternity.)

Every new policy idea to satisfy the conservatives creates a new problem for the moderates, which leads to a new policy to satisfy them. Round and round again.

The latest tweak illustrates it perfectly:

  • If the bill passed, the letter of the law would still prevent insurers from denying coverage based on a person’s medical history, one of Obamacare’s core reforms. So moderates can claim they are protecting people with preexisting conditions.

  • But to appease the archconservatives, they want to allow states to opt out of two other insurance reforms, which prohibited plans from raising premiums because of preexisting conditions and which required plans to cover certain benefits. But without those policies, prohibiting outright discrimination doesn’t matter. Plans will hike premiums or tweak their benefits to weed out costly patients. So people with conditions are at risk again.

  • To make up for that, they want to require states that waive those protections to set up a high-risk pool to offer coverage to sick people. So moderates can still claim they are protecting these people.

  • But because of the conservatives, they won’t provide the funding experts say is necessary to really make those high-risk pools work. So people are at risk again.

It’s dizzying, I know. But this merry-go-round explains why House Republicans are struggling to find an equilibrium and pass a health care bill. It’s not at all clear this latest plan solves that fundamental problem.

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on April 21, 2017

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