Posts Tagged ‘obamacare’

GOP Congress expected to be the most unproductive in 164 year

July 18, 2017

By David Faris

Speaker of the House paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Just six months ago, it looked like the Republican Party was about to go on a legislative blitzkrieg, shredding law after law passed by the Obama administration. ObamaCare would be vaporized and replaced with a nickel rattling inside an empty Mountain Dew can. Dodd-Frank was sure to be tossed aside for a transparent giveaway to Wall Street. And Republicans would pass their regressive tax reform, their perplexing border-adjustment tax, and so much more. The GOP hadn’t held total power in American politics since 2006, and the party had become much more conservative in the interim. And instead of George W. Bush, a man who recognized at least some theoretical limits on free market fundamentalism, the new Congress would work with a sub-literate tabula rasa named Donald Trump, a man who could probably be persuaded to inject himself with experimental medication if an important-seeming person whispered “do it” in his ear.

But a funny thing happened on the way to libertarian utopia. Indeed, it turns out that the GOP-controlled Congress can’t seem to pass any meaningful laws at all. Either they have forgotten how, or the divisions in their own increasingly radicalized caucus are proving too difficult to surmount. Whatever the explanation, thus far these GOP legislators are on track to be the least productive group since at least the Civil War.

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Now, okay, technically the Ryan-McConnell 115th Congress is so far actually a bit more active than recent Congresses, if you measure by the 43 laws that President Trump has adorned with his garish signature. Obama was at 40 at this point in 2009. George W. Bush had signed even fewer midway through 2001. But sheer number is not the best way to think about how much is being achieved. As The Washington Post‘s Philip Bump pointed out, a majority of the bills signed by Trump thus far have been one page long, meaning many are just symbolic or ceremonial.

Some of this very brief legislation has also been passed under the Congressional Review Act, a previously obscure statute that allows Congress to nullify recently enacted federal regulations. The CRA had been used just once before Trump took office, and yet 14 of the 43 bills signed into law by the president have been CRAs. Most of them roll back Obama-era protections against various kinds of transparent evildoing, like preventing coal mining within 100 feet of streams. They’re not meaningless, but the Voting Rights Act they are not.

So what’s the holdup on important bills getting to Trump’s desk? Both Obama and Bush had passed extraordinarily consequential legislation by this point in their first terms. The Bush tax cuts were signed in June 2001, and the massive stimulus that some economists credit with preventing another Great Depression was inked by Obama in February 2009. This Congress has not yet forwarded any legislation to the president that will significantly alter the trajectory of our politics or economics. Feel free to review the whole list yourself here and argue differently, unless you think the “U.S. Wants To Compete For a World Expo Act” (H.R. 534) is going to be the subject of debate by future historians.

One major problem for the GOP’s lack of progress is polarization — just not the kind you’re thinking of.

Over the past few years, journalists have given significant attention to the data maintained by political scientists at the University of California Los Angeles, which tracks the ideological makeup of individual members of Congress over time. The most important finding they’ve uncovered is that over the past 30 years, congressional Republicans have become substantially more ideologically extreme, while congressional Democrats have moved marginally to the left but are not much different as a group than they were in 1980, a process known as “asymmetric polarization.” For most of the post-war period, there were Democrats who were more conservative than the most liberal Republican, and vice versa. The last time this happened in the Senate was in the 108th Congress, when soon-to-be-ex-Democrat Zell Miller sat to the right of several liberal Republicans, including Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and future party-switching Republicans Lincoln Chafee and Arlen Specter.

The slow decline of this ideological overlap has led inexorably to gridlock and dysfunction when one party controls the presidency and the other leads at least one chamber of Congress. There is is simply less to talk about. It’s not like disagreeing about whether to get a Border Collie or a Boston Terrier; it’s like if you want a dog and only a dog and nothing but a dog and your partner despises animals of all kinds.

But you would think that this sorting would make for more coherent ideological blocs more capable of making policy when one party controls Congress and the presidency, as Republicans do now. That was surely what Republican voters expected when they woke up triumphant on Nov. 9 last year. But the divide within the Republican Party is proving to be as problematic as polarization between the parties. The ideological distance between the Senate’s most liberal member (Maine’s Susan Collins) and the most hard-right senator (Utah’s Mike Lee) is the same as the chasm between a middle-of-the-pack Democrat like Maryland’s Ben Cardin and a conservative like Iowa’s Joni Ernst.

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If you want to understand how much harder it is going to be for Republicans to get anything done than it was for the Democrats in 2009-2011, your best bet is to look at this intra-Republican distance. When Democrats were toiling away on what was to become the Affordable Care Act, the total distance between the most left-wing elected Democratic senator (Bernie Sanders) and the most right-wing (Nebraska’s Ben Nelson) was barely half the size of the canyon between Susan Collins and Mike Lee. Think about that for a second.

And it’s not like Collins is alone. She’s part of a cluster of three GOP senators, along with Lisa Murkowski and Shelly Moore Capito, who are much more liberal than the rest of the caucus. (By the way, it is not a coincidence that the GOP’s three most reasonable senators are women). Moreover, Mike Lee is part of a bloc of five far-right radicals — along with Jeff Flake, Rand Paul, Ben Sasse, and Ted Cruz — who are all substantially more conservative than anyone in the Senate during Barack Obama’s first two years in office. In a sane political system, there is a zero percent chance that Mike Lee and Susan Collins would be members of the same political party.

To make matters worse, Republicans control only 52 seats in the Senate and as of yet seem unwilling to nuke the legislative filibuster (something they could do at any time by changing the rules of the Senate). Republicans no longer have conservative Democrats to lean on to get to 60 votes when their own most liberal members are beyond reach, because GOP behavior during the Obama years taught Democrats the electoral value of party unity. That means that even some very conservative pieces of legislation that have already passed the House, including the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10), which guts Dodd-Frank, stand very little chance of becoming law. House leaders, including Speaker Ryan, either aren’t particularly interested in crafting bills that could actually get through the Senate or they have given up trying to forge the necessary compromises.

Or they are delusional.

The result, regardless, is that this Congress is going to be historically unproductive. How can I be so sure of this? One measure of what Congress is likely to do the rest of the year is to look at bills that have already passed the House but are awaiting action in the Senate. There are 238 of them. Amazingly, GovTrack gives only 13 a better than 50 percent chance of actually arriving on President Trump’s desk in their current form. If that holds up, Trump will have signed just 56 laws by the beginning of the 2018 congressional session. If this tortoise-like pace continues, he will preside over the least productive Congress since Millard Fillmore signed just 74 bills sent to him by the brink-of-war 32nd Congress between 1851 and 1853.

Maybe that will change. But if it doesn’t, the Republican Party’s problems are far bigger than Trump — and will probably get worse before they get better.

GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell Abandons Health-Care Bill

July 18, 2017

Majority leader says “it is now apparent” Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare won’t be successful

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell withdrew the GOP’s health-bill overhaul late Monday night.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell withdrew the GOP’s health-bill overhaul late Monday night. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON—Senate GOP leaders gave up their effort to dismantle and simultaneously replace much of the Affordable Care Act, after the defections of two more Republican senators left the party short of the votes needed to pass President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority of his first seven months in office.

In a stinging defection for party leadership, GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas on Monday night became the third and fourth Republicans to oppose the latest version of the GOP bill, which would roll back and replace much of the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Republicans had already lost two GOP votes, from Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, and the new opposition from Messrs. Lee and Moran meant Senate leaders didn’t have enough support to advance the bill in a procedural vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky.) acknowledged the defeat. “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” he said in a statement.

Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!

In a strategy facing long odds, the majority leader said the Senate would instead vote in coming days on a bill the chamber passed in late 2015 to unravel most of the ACA, which former President Barack Obama vetoed in January 2016.

Conservatives in both chambers and Mr. Trump have pressed to repeat the vote on the 2015 bill, which Mr. McConnell said would come as an amendment to the health-care bill passed by the House in May and would allow for a two-year transition.

“Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” Mr. Trump tweeted shortly before Mr. McConnell’s statement.

Mr. Trump had embraced the idea earlier in July when it was proposed by Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who noted that 49 sitting GOP senators had voted for a sweeping repeal bill earlier.

But many Republican senators have balked at this strategy, saying they wouldn’t feel comfortable rolling back the ACA without being able to tell their constituents what would supplant it.

Mr. McConnell’s latest tactic applies new pressure to conservatives who have so far blocked a bill they have said falls short of ACA repeal by offering them the chance to vote on exactly that. And while it is unlikely to become law, it also offers a way to move on from a bruising fight.

With 52 Republicans in the Senate, Mr. McConnell needed to secure at least 50 GOP votes, with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tiebreaking vote. No Democrats were expected to support the bill. The opposition from Messrs. Lee and Moran ended a frenzied period of negotiations aimed at shoring up faltering GOP support.

“In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle-class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations,” Mr. Lee, one of the Senate’s most conservative Republicans, said in a statement Monday night.

Mr. Moran said he objected to the process used to craft the Senate GOP health-care bill, which he said “fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address health care’s rising costs.”

Messrs. Lee and Moran are likely to face backlash from Mr. Trump and his supporters, who were eager to see Republicans keep their seven-year promise to repeal the 2010 health law.

Their move comes as a surprise to many in Washington, since Mr. Moran rarely breaks with GOP leaders and Mr. Lee has often voted in step with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), who introduced a key measure that GOP leaders incorporated into the bill last week.

On Monday night, the White House issued a statement that repeated a stance the president’s officials have taken in recent days—that GOP senators have no choice but to act.

“Insurance markets continue to collapse, premiums continue to rise, and Obamacare remains a failure. Inaction is not an option,” a spokesman said. “We look forward to Congress continuing to work toward a bill the president can sign to end the Obamacare nightmare and restore quality care at affordable prices.”

Republicans’ struggle to pass a health-care bill has exposed divisions within the party that could imperil other key items on their legislative agenda, including their yearslong push to overhaul the tax code.

Many had expected the next defection to come from the more centrist GOP senators, who have wavered over the latest version of the health-care bill, including Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, who is up for re-election next year, and Republicans concerned about the bill’s cuts to federal Medicaid funding, such as Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Democrats said it was time for Republicans to begin to work with them on strengthening the health-care system.

“This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said Monday night. “Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long term stability to the markets and improves our health-care system.”

The downfall of the bill is a tough blow for Mr. Trump, who has made it clear that undoing the 2010 law is a priority and has leaned heavily on fellow Republicans to make it happen. Mr. Trump said recently he would be very angry if the repeal legislation didn’t make it to his desk, and he was meeting Monday night with a handful of Republican senators to discuss the legislation.

Earlier Monday, the president promised Republicans would replace the law with “something that is going to be outstanding” and “far, far better than failing Obamacare.”

“We’re going to get that done,” he said, “and I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has already encouraged states to apply for waivers giving them more flexibility in enforcing the law and structuring their Medicaid programs. The waivers allow states to require many people to work to obtain their Medicaid benefits, among other changes.

Insurers will immediately be looking for assurances that the cost-sharing subsidies will be paid, said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. The drop-dead date for insurers will be mid to late September, when they have to sign contracts for 2018.

The individual insurance market has been stabilizing in most of the country and could continue just fine, Mr. Levitt said, but insurers will be reading the tea leaves for whether the Trump administration will make the subsidy payments they are expecting and enforce the individual mandate.

There are still some fragile markets, especially in rural areas, and they will likely require some shoring up to make sure insurers are participating and premiums are affordable, he said.

Write to Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com and Stephanie Armour at stephanie.armour@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 18, 2017, print edition as ‘GOP Abandons Senate Health Bill.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/gop-senate-leader-mcconnell-abandons-health-care-bill-1500348064

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GOP effort to repeal and replace “Obamacare” fatally wounded in the Senate as two more Republican senators announced their opposition

July 18, 2017

The Associated Press

 (AP) — The latest GOP effort to repeal and replace “Obamacare” was fatally wounded in the Senate Monday night when two more Republican senators announced their opposition to legislation strongly backed by President Donald Trump.

The announcements from Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas left the Republican Party’s long-promised efforts to get rid of President Barack Obama’s health care legislation reeling. Next steps, if any, were not immediately clear.

Lee and Moran both said they could not support Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s legislation in its current form. They joined GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, both of whom announced their opposition right after McConnell released the bill last Thursday.

McConnell is now at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate and may have to go back to the drawing board or even begin to negotiate with Democrats, a prospect he’s threatened but resisted so far.

McConnell’s bill “fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address healthcare’s rising costs. For the same reasons I could not support the previous version of this bill, I cannot support this one,” said Moran.

It was the second straight failure for McConnell, who had to cancel a vote on an earlier version of the bill last month when defeat became inevitable.

Trump had kept his distance from the Senate process, but Monday night’s development was a major blow for him, too, as the president failed to rally support for what has been the GOP’s trademark issue for seven years — ever since Obama and the Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in the first place.

The Senate bill eliminated mandates and taxes under Obamacare, and unraveled a Medicaid expansion. But for conservatives like Lee and Paul it didn’t go far enough in delivering on Republican Party promises to undo Obama’s law, while moderates like Collins viewed the bill as too extreme in yanking insurance coverage from millions.

Republicans Aren’t Team Players

July 17, 2017

GOP Senators who defect from ObamaCare repeal will hurt themselves, their party and the country.

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July 16, 2017 2:17 p.m. ET

Politics is a team sport, and Republicans are playing it poorly. They have one more chance in the Senate to repeal and replace ObamaCare—possibly their last hope for a victory.

Democrats are performing like a well-coached team. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has all 48 members of his caucus on board with saving ObamaCare at all cost. It’s been a successful strategy.

It works for one reason: Republicans are divided. Their 52-48 majority in the Senate means they can lose two votes and still prevail, since Vice President Mike Pence is the tiebreaker. After promising to get rid of ObamaCare for the past seven years, it shouldn’t be difficult.

But as many as eight Republican senators opposed the first GOP bill, forcing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to come up with a revised version. While an improvement, it has encountered opposition too. Mr. McConnell is skillful in bringing senators together. But here his task is more difficult than usual because the dissidents don’t all agree on what’s wrong with the bill. Appeasing one senator may alienate another.

This is an example of why legislative success depends on operating as a team. You don’t abandon your team just because you don’t get everything you want (or want left out). You hold your nose and vote for an imperfect measure, sometimes merely because it’s politically beneficial and better than the alternative.

This is especially true in dumping ObamaCare. The Republican alternative is a more free-market health-care system in which people can buy the insurance they want, not what government requires.

Sticking with the team makes that possible. But too many Republicans aren’t comfortable as team players. To them, it’s shady and unprincipled to vote for something about which you have serious doubts. Democrats are more realistic and less persnickety, so they’re better at uniting.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/republicans-arent-team-players-1500229048

How Many Jobs Does ObamaCare Kill?

July 6, 2017

The Wall Street Journal surveyed managers at small businesses and put the count at 250,000

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July 5, 2017 7:16 p.m. ET
Democrats loudly complain that people will lose health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. They never mention those who lose jobs because the ACA remains.

The ACA includes a penalty on employers that fail to provide “adequate” insurance for full-time workers. Thanks to the ACA, hiring the 50th full-time employee effectively costs another $70,000 a year on top of the normal salary and benefits.

Many business owners have described how this penalty prevents them from hiring and has caused them to reduce work hours to below the full-time threshold. ACA supporters dismiss these statements as “mere anecdotes” not corroborated by national sampling and statistical analysis. But did any of them rush out to gather the national samples, especially after Jan. 1, 2016, when the employer penalty took full effect?

In partnership with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in March 2017 I was able to commission Hanover Research to survey small businesses nationwide regarding their hiring and compensation practices. The result was a sample of 745 small businesses, representing every major industry and together employing almost 50,000 people.

We asked managers (almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans) how many people each business employed and whether it offers health insurance. Many businesses, when they do not offer coverage, keep their payrolls just below 50 full-time employees and thereby narrowly escape the ACA’s penalty. This pattern is not visible among businesses that offer coverage.

When we followed up, the businesses employing just fewer than 50 often said the ACA caused them to hire less and cut hours below the full-time threshold. The penalty caused payrolls to shrink or prevented them from growing.

Nationwide, we estimate the ACA-inspired practice of keeping payrolls below 50 has cost roughly 250,000 jobs. This does not count jobs lost when businesses close (we didn’t survey closed businesses) or shrink because of other ACA incentives.

The tally of lost jobs is bound to grow because the penalty itself automatically grows and the IRS is still learning how to enforce it. And the businesses we surveyed disproportionately say that they reduce hiring and hours for new employees rather than existing employees. They may continue to shrink until their payrolls are fully turned over.

Read the rest:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-many-jobs-does-obamacare-kill-1499296604

Trump says Obamacare should be repealed even if it’s not replaced with anything

July 2, 2017

Senators from different wings of the Republican party disagree with key parts of the Obamacare repeal and replacement bill

By Alexandra Wilts Washington DC

The Independent

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trumpcare-protest.jpgActivists march around the US Capitol to protest the Senate Republicans’ health care bill Getty Images

Donald Trump is calling for Senate Republicans to repeal Obamacare – even if they have no bill to replace it with.

A proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, has struggled in the Senate, with senators from different wings of the Republican party disagreeing on key aspects of the plan.

Moderate senators worry that millions of people would lose their insurance following cuts to Medicaid – a healthcare programme for the poor – while conservatives assert that the bill does not do enough to erase Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation.

The senators’ efforts were complicated on Thursday when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the Senate proposal would cut spending on government Medicaid by 35 per cent come 2036.

“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse, who said this week that he was not satisfied with the Senate healthcare measure, appeared to welcome Mr Trump’s suggestion.

If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!

“Sounds great, Pres. @realDonaldTrump,” Mr Sasse wrote in a response on Twitter. “We are agreed. We need to break the logjam.”

However, the prospect of not having an alternative to Obamacare in place has raised concerns that insurance markets would collapse and people not insured under the ACA would be left with few or no options for coverage, hitting the poor particularly hard.

Senator Rand Paul, a leading voice on the conservative wing, wants to ditch more parts of Obamacare and supports splitting the Senate healthcare bill into two – one for repeal and one for spending.

“You can repeal the taxes, you can repeal some of the regulations – I prefer all of them – and you can also do some Medicaid reform. That could be in a repeal bill, and it will be a much narrower and much cleaner repeal,” he told MSNBC.

Sounds great, Pres. @realDonaldTrump

We are agreed. We need to break the logjam.https://outreach.senate.gov/iqextranet/view_newsletter.aspx?id=101185&c=SenSasse https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/880737163247267840 

Photo published for Sasse Sends Plan B to Trump: If No Agreement Next Week, Repeal First and Spend August on Replace

Sasse Sends Plan B to Trump: If No Agreement Next Week, Repeal First and Spend August on Replace

Sasse Sends Plan B to Trump: If No Agreement Next Week, Repeal First and Spend August on Replace

outreach.senate.gov

Asked about that option, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said, “That’s a very strong possible alternative strategy.”

She told Fox News that the White House was confident healthcare reform can get done this summer, followed by tax reform.

Mr Trump’s proposal for the Senate to just repeal Obamacare comes after he told reporters earlier this week that “healthcare is working along very well…we’re gonna have a big surprise. We have a great healthcare package.”

The President also told Republican senators during a meeting at the White House that “this will be great if we get it done.”

But appearing to recognise the opposition the healthcare bill faces, he added: “And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like. And that’s okay, and I understand that very well.”

With a majority of 52 senators, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford two defections on the bill and still be able to pass it. No Democrats are expected to vote in favour of the legislation.

Mr McConnell is trying to send a revised version of their healthcare bill to the Congressional Budget Office so that the nonpartisan group can measure the legislation’s impact on coverage levels and federal spending by the time senators return to Washington DC in mid-July.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-healthcare-obamacare-repeal-republicans-nothing-replace-a7817081.html

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GOP senator calls for ObamaCare repeal first, replacement LATER

June 30, 2017

By 
The Hill

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Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) told Fox News on Friday that if Republicans can’t pass a bill to replace ObamaCare soon, they should repeal the entire law and work on a replacement later.

Speaking on “Fox and Friends,” Sasse said that if progress isn’t made by July 10, he’ll call on the president to separate the process.

“To date, we’ve been trying to do those two things at once, and not been making enough progress” Sasse said. “I still hope that process can work, but most people are leaving D.C. today to go home for the Fourth of July weekend.”

“If we don’t get this resolved by the Monday of next week, July 10, if there isn’t a combined repeal-and-replace plan, I’m writing a letter to the president this morning urging him to call on us to separate them,” he told Fox News.

Sasse said that the GOP has the votes it needs in the Senate to repeal ObamaCare, and it should focus on that first.

“Every Republican except one has already voted for repeal in the past,” Sasse said. “Let’s do that first, if we can’t do them together.””Let’s do as much repeal as we can,” Sasse continued, “And then let’s ask the president to cancel our August 8 work period, and then stay here and work on replace separate.”

Nine GOP senators have already said they won’t vote for the Senate’s bill to replace ObamaCare in its current form. The Senate GOP holds a 52-48 majority, meaning they can afford just two Republican defections and still pass the bill.

Includes video:

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/340213-gop-senator-calls-for-maximum-repeal-of-obamacare-first-then-replacement

Related:

Senators Urge Trump to Back Wholesale Obamacare Repeal if GOP Bill Stalls

June 30, 2017

‘We must keep our word,’ says Ben Sasse of Nebraska

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse listens to testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on June 21.

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse listens to testimony before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on June 21. PHOTO: ZUMA PRESS
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June 30, 2017 8:24 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Two key senators in the Republican effort to pass a health-care bill on Friday morning called for the White House to intervene with a more aggressive strategy if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t locked in 50 votes by the time lawmakers return from the July 4 recess—and President Donald Trump seemed to embrace the idea.

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said that congressional leaders’ prospects of overturning parts of the 2010 Affordable Care Act and enact their own provisions in its place were dimming. He said the party’s best hope for passing a health-care bill now could be to wipe out the law in its entirety, then work on a deal to fill the void.

“On the current path it looks like Republicans will either fail to pass any meaningful bill at all, or will instead pass a bill that looks to prop up many of the crumbling Obama care structures,” he said in a letter he announced he was sending to the White House.

“We must keep our word. Therefore, if on July 10 we don’t have agreement on a combined repeal and replace plan, we should immediately vote again on H.R. 3762, the December 2015 Obamacare repeal legislation that the Congress passed but President Obama vetoed.”

Within minutes of Mr. Sasse’s announcement, which he also discussed on “Fox & Friends,” Mr. Trump suggested his support in a tweet.

If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!

“If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” he wrote.

Rand Paul of Kentucky, another senator whose support could make or break the legislation’s prospect, also endorsed the idea.

“I have spoken to @realDonaldTrump & Senate leadership about this and agree. Let’s keep our word to repeal then work on replacing right away,” he said on Twitter.

I have spoken to @realDonaldTrump & Senate leadership about this and agree. Let’s keep our word to repeal then work on replacing right away.

Conservative grass-roots groups have long pointed to the “dry run” vote that 49 current GOP senators took in 2015 under President Barack Obama to repeal the law they call “Obamacare,” saying that it put them on record as supporting a more sweeping measure than some are willing to accept.

Mr. Sasse said that another two GOP senators who have since joined Congress should also be expected to support the measure. The 52nd, Susan Collins of Maine, was in office but did not support it in 2015, but such a bill could pass with only 50 votes assuming it had the support of Vice President Pence. Mr. Sasse also said the Senate should stay in town for the month of August, working six days a week to pass replacement legislation by Labor Day.

Mr. Sasse has bucked the administration on things including the firing of FBI Director James Comey and Mr.Trump’s tweets. But he had kept his position on health-care legislation relatively quiet, even as almost a dozen other centrist and conservative Republican senators made various misgivings known. On Friday, he replied warmly to Mr. Trump’s suggestion on Twitter.

Glad you agree, Mr Pres. If no agreement next wk, 2 steps:
1. Repeal 1st; then
2. Spend August full-time on replace:http://video.foxnews.com/v/5488870187001/ 

“Glad you agree, Mr. Pres.” If no agreement next wk, 2 steps: 1. Repeal 1st; then 2. Spend August full-time on replace,” he wrote.

Senate Republicans can afford to lose no more than two votes to pass health-care legislation, counting on Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie and assuming no support from Democrats.

The White House had been eyeing Mr. Sasse and a handful of other undeclared conservative legislators; earlier this week, Sens. Sasse, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Tom Cotton of Arkansas dined with Mr. Pence, joined by the more openly critical Mike Lee of Utah.

Mr. Sasse’s move makes clear the extent of the challenge now facing Mr. McConnell, who in the past week has already seen an unusual rebuke to his authority when senators threatened to block a motion to proceed with a vote on the health-care bill.

But it also exposes the long-running pressure that GOP leaders from Mr. McConnell to Mr. Trump are under to mediate disputes between competing wings of the party.

Conservative groups have said since Mr. Trump’s election that they want to hold newly empowered Republicans to their campaign-trail promises to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a substantially different health-care policy.

Centrist Republicans have sought to retain popular provisions of the law, fearing disruption and a backlash if people lose coverage or states face funding crunches.

And both sides say they want to ensure that Republicans, now in control of both Congress and the White House, can notch legislative wins.

Write to Louise Radnofsky at louise.radnofsky@wsj.com

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The ObamaCare Waiver Breakthrough

June 30, 2017

The Senate health bill has an important way to reduce premiums.

No automatic alt text available.

Editorial

The Wall Street Journal
June 29, 2017 7:37 p.m. ET
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.Senate conservatives wish the health-care bill was more ambitious on deregulation, and so do we, though the benefits of its state waiver feature are underappreciated and worth more explanation. This booster shot of federalism could become the greatest devolution of federal power to the states in the modern era.

One of ObamaCare’s most destructive legacies is a vast expansion of federal control over insurance and medicine—industries that did not exactly lack supervision before 2010. This included annexing powers that…

One of ObamaCare’s most destructive legacies is a vast expansion of federal control over insurance and medicine—industries that did not exactly lack supervision before 2010. This included annexing powers that traditionally belonged to states. The Obama Administration then used regulation to standardize insurers as public utilities and accelerate a wave of provider consolidation that has created hospital and physician oligopolies across the country.
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Once in command, the federal government rarely eases off or returns control, but the Senate bill does. The Affordable Care Act included a process in which states could apply for permission to be exempted from some rules, but conditions are so onerous that these 1332 waivers have been mostly notional. The Senate Republican draft bill makes this process quicker, more flexible and broader, which could launch a burst of state innovation.
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The Senate bill is broader than the House’s Meadows-MacArthur waivers that only apply to a few so-called Title I regulations. Creative Governors could use the 1332 exemptions to explore a wider variety of reforms to repair their individual insurance markets, lower premiums and increase access to care.
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Introducing many competing health-care models across the country would be healthy. California and South Carolina don’t—and shouldn’t—have to follow one uniform prototype designed in Washington, and even a state as large as California doesn’t have the same needs from region to region.
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If nothing else the repeal and replace debate has shown that liberals, conservatives and centrists have different health-care priorities, and allowing different approaches and experimentation would be politically therapeutic. The more innovative can become examples to those that stay heavily regulated.
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Some conservatives in the Senate and the House are despondent because neither bill repeals the federal rules related to pre-existing conditions known as guaranteed issue and community rating. They’re right that these mandates are destructive. Community rating, which limits how much premiums can vary among people with different health status and risks, tends to blow up insurance markets, as ObamaCare is now showing.
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But at least for now, conservatives have lost this political debate. There’s no Senate majority for catching the pre-existing conditions grenade, Governors aren’t hot on the idea either, and even insurers don’t want to return to the days of medical underwriting.
The Senate bet is that the 1332 waivers can help create enough of a recovery in insurance markets to overcome the distortions of these rules and bring down rates.
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The bill also relaxes ObamaCare’s age bands to a 5 to 1 ratio from a 3 to 1 ratio, meaning insurance for the oldest beneficiaries can be priced five times as high as for the youngest. Since age is a proxy for health risks and expenses, and a 5 to 1 ratio is close to the true actuarial cost of care, the policy result in practice is a wash.
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The other objection to the waivers is that leaving ObamaCare regulations in law creates the risk that a future Democratic President could revoke the 1332 waivers to restore the ObamaCare status quo.
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But the bill includes a provision that legally bars the Health and Human Services Secretary from cancelling an approved waiver for eight years, and they can be automatically renewed. A Democratic Congress could change the law, but then a new Congress always can, and in any case successful state projects will be hard to overturn.
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ObamaCare’s failures have created an appetite for new alternatives. If Senate Republicans can get to 50 votes, they’ll unleash the states to build post-ObamaCare options.
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Appeared in the June 30, 2017, print edition.
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https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-obamacare-waiver-breakthrough-1498779447

Cavuto: Do Democrats Have Any Heart at All?

June 24, 2017

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June 23, 2017

‘Lion of London Bridge’ Stopped Terrorists in Bar With His Bare Hands


On “Your World” today, Neil Cavuto blasted Democrats for their scathing criticisms of the Senate version of the GOP health care bill.

“If Republicans still spending hundreds of billions of dollars is mean, please tell me what constitutes nice,” and incredulous Cavuto said.

“The Senate bill may be meaner” than the House bill, Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the bill “heartless” at a press conference.

Cavuto pointed out that people with preexisting conditions are still covered under the new bill, and children can still stay on their parents plans until age 26.

What is “mean,” he remarked, is doubling premiums, shrinking coverage, limited insurance plan options, and failing subsidies.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the Senate’s bill Thursday after leadership was roundly criticized for the secretive process. The vote is planned for next week, but four Republican senators have already said they will not vote for it, making it dead on arrival as it stands now.

Schumer lecturing the GOP about the secretive process by which the bill was drafted is “pretty stupid,” said Cavuto, since ObamaCare was cooked up in secret.

Democrats’ comments show a “phony interest in the health of folks for whom liberals couldn’t care less.”

“We need a stethoscope alright, not to find whether there’s any heart in this latest Republican plan, but to confirm whether Democrats have any heart at all,” Cavuto concluded.

Watch his remarks

See the video:

http://insider.foxnews.com/2017/06/23/democrats-health-care-congress-heart-senate-neil-cavuto

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36 Times Obama Said You Could Keep Your Health Care Plan

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpa-5JdCnmo


Hollywood Filmmaker Calls Trump and McConnell ‘Terrorists’

‘Lion of London Bridge’ Stopped Terrorists in Bar With His Bare Hands