White House pushes uncertain bid to revive health care bill

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'We have a good chance of getting it soon.

At the top of the list is so-called 'essential health benefits, ' a minimum standard of mandated benefits that conservatives believe drives up the cost of insurance.

"We will not negotiate with hostage takers", Sen. President Trump is still considering whether to continue payments for the Obamacare subsidies, he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week.

"Look, I recognize that millions of people got helped by the ACA", MacArthur said.

"I want to be unpredictable".


But Trump's gambit may have backfired. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) warned last week.

But GOP congressional leaders have been dubious of that timeline. Republicans will need support from at least eight Democratic senators in order to avoid a filibuster.

On March 24, Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the Republican health care bill from consideration after it became clear that it did not have enough votes to pass the legislation, in part because of near-unified opposition from the Freedom Caucus. But it's a cloud that Congress could easily scatter - all it has to do is pass an appropriation for those cost-sharing reductions. But they are an essential component of how the law makes insurance affordable for lower-income families. And there are real problems in the Obamacare marketplaces that need thoughtful solutions. For consumers, the savings can be substantial. Those people would drop out of the market, and premiums would decline. It all adds up to $7 billion in federal spending for 2017, and it's projected to rise to $10 billion next year and $11 billion in 2019.

The elimination of premiums for pre-existing conditions is among the most popular elements of the Affordable Care Act.

(It's not enough for Congress to authorize a program; under the Constitution, Congress must also appropriate funds for a program before the government can spend money on it.) The Obama administration started to dole out the funds anyway, citing a different appropriation authority, but House Republicans objected and sued.


The deal - brokered by centrist Tuesday Group co-chair Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and staunch conservative Freedom Caucus head Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) - would give states more flexibility to opt out of ObamaCare provisions preserving protections like the law's ban on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, the website reported. A higher court stayed that ruling pending appeal.

"The president is unlikely to gain any leverage with the Democrats by holding out since he pretty clearly will be blamed for the fallout if he cuts off the payments, especially now that he has acknowledged that he could keep the payments flowing".

But while the administration can choose to stop making the payments to insurance companies, insurers would still be required to offer discounted policies. In other words, they would still have to offer cheaper copays and deductibles-just without the government assistance they were promised.

And while he declined to disclose the amendments he proposed, MacArthur said he thought they "might find the right balance between those who want the states to have a lot more control, and those who are concerned about cutting any benefits". The uncertainty alone could result in premiums rising by as much as 15 percent, according to some experts.

This comes just a week after the Associated Press reported that Trump has "scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on and is going back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the USA tax system".


State insurance regulators with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday, pleading, "Your action is critical to the viability and stability of the individual health insurance markets in a significant number of states across the country".

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