What’s New in Health Care Reform: March 8

What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.

House Republicans Release Long-Awaited Plan to Replace Obamacare

House Republicans released long-anticipated legislation to supplant the Affordable Care Act with a more conservative vision for the nation’s health-care system, replacing federal insurance subsidies with a new form of individual tax credits and grants to help states shape their own policies. Under two bills drafted by separate House committees, the government would no longer penalize Americans for failing to have health insurance but would try to encourage people to maintain coverage by allowing insurers to impose a surcharge of 30 percent for those who have a gap between health plans. The legislation would preserve two of the most popular features of the 2010 health-care law, letting young adults stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26 and forbidding insurers to deny coverage or charge more to people with preexisting medical problems. It would also target Planned Parenthood, rendering the women’s health organization ineligible for Medicaid reimbursements or federal family planning grants — a key priority for antiabortion groups. Via Washington Post.

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House GOP Bill Repeals Obamacare Taxes—with One Exception

The legislation that House Republicans have unveiled to repeal and replace Obamacare would eliminate nearly all of the 2010 health law's taxes—with one key exception. The House bill would allow Obamacare's "Cadillac" tax on high-cost health plans to take effect in 2025. The tax, which has been opposed by both Democrats and Republicans, had been slated to take effect in 2020 under current law. Via The Hill.

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What You Need to Know about the Big Obamacare Fight: Medicaid

Medicaid emerged as perhaps the singular issue on which the Republican bid to overhaul the Affordable Care Act will live or die. House Republicans unveiled their official plan to repeal and replace much of the health care law, including dramatic changes to Medicaid, the insurance program that covers low-income Americans and that was expanded under Obamacare. Republicans want to convert the program from the open-ended entitlement it is now to a program with a hard spending limit. Via STAT.

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Trump Signs New Order Blocking Arrivals from 6 Majority-Muslim Countries

President Trump has signed a new executive order that temporarily blocks visas from being issued to citizens of six majority-Muslim countries, revoking and replacing a controversial, now-suspended executive order known as the travel ban. Like the initial order signed January 27, the new executive order bars arrivals from specific majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and suspends the entire U.S. refugee program for 120 days. It also caps the total number of refugees admitted this fiscal year at 50,000, instead of 110,000. But there are a series of differences. The ban no longer includes Iraq. It explicitly doesn't apply to lawful permanent residents (green card holders) or existing visa holders. Syrian refugees are not banned indefinitely. Refugees already formally scheduled for travel to the U.S. will be permitted to enter the country. Via NPR.

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Conservatives Suggest They Won’t Fall in Line on ACA Overhaul

The GOP replacement to the Affordable Care Act is out, but Republicans are not on the same page. Less than 24 hours after legislation was introduced, the plan put forth by House leadership won the approval of the White House, but sparked the ire of conservative organizations, health wonks, and lawmakers. Via Morning Consult.

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Millions Risk Losing Health Insurance in Republican Plan, Analysts Say

Millions of people who get private health coverage through the Affordable Care Act would be at risk of losing it under the replacement legislation proposed by House Republicans, analysts said, with Americans in their 50s and 60s especially likely to find coverage unaffordable. Starting in 2020, the plan would do away with the current system of providing premium subsidies based on people’s income and the cost of insurance where they live. Instead, it would provide tax credits of $2,000 to $4,000 per year based on their age. But the credits would not cover nearly as much of the cost of premiums as the current subsidies do, at least for the type of comprehensive coverage that the Affordable Care Act requires, analysts said. For many people, that could mean the difference between keeping coverage under the new system and having to give it up. Via NY Times.

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Hospitals Come out against GOP Health Care Bill

The American Hospital Association announced its opposition to the GOP's health care reform plan. The hospital association is the first health industry group to expressly come out against the legislation, dubbed the American Health Care Act, which House GOP leadership unveiled. Via The Hill.

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Health-Care Companies See Big Risks in Plan to Replace Obamacare

For health care companies, the new House Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act carries significant risks, as it would likely mean a decline in insured patients and continued worries about an unstable market. Insurers, hospitals, and medical-device manufacturers are still parsing the details of the draft legislation, which could change considerably as it moves through the House and Senate, and they are applauding moves like the elimination of some taxes. But the proposal’s pullbacks on Medicaid and federal insurance subsidies could significantly reduce the number of people with health coverage over time, analysts and industry officials said, a serious problem for health-care providers and insurers. Via Wall Street Journal.

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The GOP’s Turn to Answer the Question: Can I Keep My Doctor?

Republicans have for years pummeled the Affordable Care Act by arguing that it has limited people’s choice of doctors. President Trump and his deputies have deployed that line in the last few weeks as they push to overhaul the law. “They had their doctor, they had their plan,” Trump told a group of conservatives gathered near the nation’s capital late last month. “You can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Over and over and over again, you heard it.” On Tuesday, Trump vowed of his party’s own health care bill: “This will be a plan where you can choose your doctor.” But can he really keep that promise? Via STAT.

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Obamacare Took Months to Craft; Repeal May Be Much Swifter

In June 2009, House Democratic leaders unveiled the first draft of legislation that would ultimately become the Affordable Care Act. A month later, three House committees began formally drafting the bill ahead of a House vote that came well into the fall, after the summer heat had dissipated and the leaves had begun to change. On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee will formally mark up legislation to repeal and replace the act—less than 48 hours after Republicans unveiled the bill to the public. If all goes according to plan, the House will vote within a few weeks, and the Senate will take up the legislation before its spring recess begins on April 7. Via NY Times.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. He leads strategies for corporate communications, public relations, and new media innovations. Andy has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2003. Outside of work, Andy can be found running, hiking, snapping photos, and most importantly, spending time with his family.