Overnight Healthcare: GOP tweaks ObamaCare repeal plan to help insurers with high-cost patients

An amendment to the GOP’s repeal plan would dole out $15 billion to insurers over nine years to help cover the costs of sick, expensive patients.

Lawmakers say the new funds would bring down premiums for healthy people by subsidizing medical costs for people with especially high expenses.

But experts say $15 billion is not enough to bring down premiums.

“$15 billion over 9 years is definitely not enough to make a meaningful difference in premiums or market stability,” tweeted Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

House GOP leaders touted the amendment to try to show progress on their healthcare bill, but deep divisions remain over the House Freedom Caucus’s calls to allow states to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Read more here. http://bit.ly/2p6weKZ


What the Freedom Caucus wants

The majority of the House Freedom Caucus would vote for a healthcare bill that gets rid of three of ObamaCare’s insurer regulations, the group’s chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), said Thursday.

The caucus has withheld its support from the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill last month, saying it does nothing to drive down insurance premiums.

But in an effort to sway the caucus, Vice President Pence offered this week to get rid of three regulations: essential health benefits, which mandate what services insurers must cover; community rating, which says insurers can’t charge sick people more for insurance; and guaranteed issue, which says insurers must cover people with pre-existing conditions.

“The majority of the Freedom Caucus would be favorably inclined to vote for that,” Meadows said at a Politico event Thursday, adding that they would need to see the bill text before committing.

Read more here: http://bit.ly/2oMUGl3


A shortened recess?

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Republicans as they departed Washington on Thursday that their recess could be cut short if a deal is reached on legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Such a compromise between the centrist and conservative factions of the House GOP remains a long way off. But McCarthy warned lawmakers they might have to return early if negotiations prove fruitful in the next two weeks.

“I realize how important it is to keep up momentum so be assured that conversations will continue and we will keep in contact with you throughout the district work period. Should we be prepared to advance our bill through the House in the coming two weeks, we will advise Members immediately and give you sufficient time to return to Washington,” McCarthy wrote in a memo to House Republicans.

Read more here: http://bit.ly/2nhLWXm


An even bigger bill… 

President Trump is considering attaching his $1 trillion infrastructure package to tax reform or healthcare in order to leverage support for his other legislative priorities.

In an interview with the New York Times, Trump said he may use infrastructure as a sweetener because it is “so popular” among lawmakers, especially among Democrats, who Trump referred to as “desperate for infrastructure.”

“I may put it in with healthcare. I may put it in with something else because it’s a very popular thing,” Trump said. “I’m thinking about putting it with another bill. Could be health care, could be something else. Could be tax reform.”

The Hill’s Melanie Zanona has more here: http://bit.ly/2oFHD8o


Trump talks VA reform

President Trump on Thursday pledged to take care of the country’s veterans, touting his new leadership atop the Veterans Affairs Department.

“I love them, and we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them, and I said we’re going to take care of them,” Trump told Fox News.

“They have not been taken care of properly, and it was a big thing.”

Trump said Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is going to do a “fantastic job.”

The Hill’s Rebecca Savransky has more here: http://bit.ly/2oOtfr6


What we’re reading

Average ACA marketplace premiums for silver plans would need to increase by 19 percent to compensate for lack of insurer payments (Kaiser Family Foundation)

More than 1 in 5 U.S. adults were infected by a type of high-risk HPV, CDC report shows (Washington Post)

Coding for abortion access (The New Yorker)


State by state

Aetna to exit Iowa’s ObamaCare marketplace in 2018 (Wall Street Journal)

Maryland becomes first state to reimburse Planned Parenthood clinics if Congress cuts funding (Washington Post)

Florida Medicaid recipients may need to meet work requirement, pay premium (Tampa Bay Times)

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Overnight Healthcare: GOP tweaks ObamaCare repeal plan to help insurers with high-cost patients

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