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Repeal and Replace

  • Behind Closed Doors, Republican Lawmakers Fret About How to Repeal Obamacare Washington Post by Mike DeBonis—Republican lawmakers aired sharp concerns about their party’s quick push to repeal the Affordable Care Act at a closed-door meeting Thursday, according to a recording of the session obtained by The Washington Post.

    The recording reveals a GOP that appears to be filled with doubts about how to make good on a long-standing promise to get rid of Obamacare without explicit guidance from President Trump or his administration. The thorny issues with which lawmakers grapple on the tape—including who may end up either losing coverage or paying more under a revamped system—highlight the financial and political challenges that flow from upending the current law.

  • Trump Can Do Plenty on His Own to Unravel Obama Health Law AP by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar— President Donald Trump can do plenty on his own to unravel the Obama health care law, but some of those actions would create disruptions that undermine his administration's early promises. Other less sweeping steps could open the way for big changes, but might not get as much notice. Suspending enforcement of tax penalties on people who remain uninsured would win Trump immediate cheers from the political right for taking down a widely unpopular requirement. But experts say it would destabilize insurance markets by allowing healthy people to opt out, raising costs for taxpayers and remaining consumers. It would also risk a protracted court battle. Less visible but just as important, the administration appears to have wide latitude to let states experiment with Medicaid funds and other federal financing. That could provide a pathway for GOP-led states to try their ideas.

  • Obama Makes Health Care Plea in Handoff Letter to Trump The Hill by Mike Lillis—In the tradition of departing presidents, Barack Obama left a letter for incoming President Donald Trump.  The thrust of the message, which Trump relayed to congressional leaders during their White House meeting Monday evening, was a plea to salvage ObamaCare—or swap it for something at least as generous. "I haven't seen the letter," Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who attended the meeting, told reporters Tuesday. "But President Obama correctly…stated that, 'Look, we believe the Affordable Care Act is a very important piece of legislation which has given Americans better health, better access, more reliability. And if you have a bill … that improves upon all this, well, you know, maybe I could support it." "I don't know what the verbiage of President Obama's was," he added. "But his point was: 'If you've got something that's really better and we see it and we think it's better, then we could support that.'"

  • Is the Health Care Law Really Going into a ‘Death Spiral’? The Hill by Peter Sullivan—If the health care law is in a death spiral, it increases the need to repeal and replace it, since it suggests that health insurance markets will collapse without government action. That’s why it is a key argument for Republicans. Yet nonpartisan health care groups that have studied the law say that while it has some serious problems and faces challenges, they do not see it as collapsing into a death spiral. The American Academy of Actuaries is a prime example. The group, which represents the people who analyze data for insurance companies, says there is no evidence that Obamacare is in a death spiral or that it is on the verge of collapse. “I don’t really see evidence of that happening right now,” said Cori Uccello, the organization’s senior health fellow.

  • Senators Propose Giving States Option to Keep Affordable Care Act New York Times by Robert Pear—Several Republican senators on Monday proposed a partial replacement for the Affordable Care Act that would allow states to continue operating under the law if they choose, a proposal meant to appeal to critics and supporters of former President Barack Obama’s signature health law. But the plan was attacked by Democrats as a step back from the Affordable Care Act’s protections, and it was unlikely to win acceptance from conservative Republicans who want to get rid of the law and its tax increases as soon as possible. If anything, the proposal—by Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, a medical doctor, and Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican—may show how difficult it will be for Republicans to enact a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

  • Republicans Divided Over Whether Millions of Americans Should Lose Government-Subsidized Health Coverage Los Angeles Times by Noam Levey—As Republicans scramble for a strategy to repeal and replace the health care law, they are reckoning with a fundamental question the party has never settled: whether to foot the multi-trillion-dollar bill to ensure millions of Americans retain the coverage they obtained under Obamacare. GOP lawmakers for years ducked that issue as they unified behind cries to roll back the program, but were assured President Obama would block them. Now, the power to actually repeal and replace the law is exposing deep divisions in the party.

  • Ryan Maps Out GOP Timeline for ObamaCare, Tax Reform The Hill by Scott Wong And Alexander Bolton—Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday mapped out the GOP’s 200-day legislative strategy, saying Republicans will repeal and replace portions of ObamaCare by spring and tackle tax reform before the August recess. During a private meeting of House and Senate Republicans at their annual policy retreat, Ryan said House committees will mark up a reconciliation package in the next couple of weeks that will both repeal President Obama’s health care law and replace portions of it, according to several lawmakers in the room. Then, Ryan will bring the final reconciliation package to the House floor by late February or early March.

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