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The Administration

  • Trump’s Secret Plan to Scrap Obamacare  Politico by Jennifer Haberkorn — The document, revealed for the first time by POLITICO, shows that despite the chaos surrounding repeal, the administration had an elaborate plan to take apart the law using executive authority.  Early last year, as an Obamacare repeal bill was flailing in the House, top Trump administration officials showed select House conservatives a secret road map of how they planned to gut the health care law using executive authority. The March 23 document, which had not been public until now, reveals that while the effort to scrap Obamacare often looked chaotic, top officials had actually developed an elaborate plan to undermine the law — regardless of whether Congress repealed it. Top administration officials had always said they would eradicate the law through both legislative and executive actions, but they never provided the public with anything close to the detailed blueprint shared with the members of the House Freedom Caucus, whose confidence — and votes — President Donald Trump was trying to win at the time.

  • 'Nothing Is Actually Being Done': Trump's Opioid Emergency Order Disappoints  Politico by Brianna Ehley — President Donald Trump in October promised to "liberate" Americans from the "scourge of addiction," officially declaring a 90-day public health emergency that would urgently mobilize the federal government to tackle the opioid epidemic. That declaration runs out on Jan. 23, and beyond drawing more attention to the crisis, virtually nothing of consequence has been done. Trump has not formally proposed any new resources or spending, typically the starting point for any emergency response. He promised to roll out a “really tough, really big, really great” advertising campaign to spread awareness about addiction, but that has yet to take shape. And key public health and drug posts in the administration remain vacant, so it’s not clear who has the authority to get new programs moving.

  • Trump's HHS Pick Appears to Be on Track for Confirmation Politico by Adam Cancryn and Sarah Karlin-Smith — President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) appears on the brink of confirmation, which will usher in a new era of Republican efforts to remake major health care programs after legislative stumbles last year. The expected confirmation of Alex Azar, who appeared before a Senate panel Tuesday, would put the conservative policy expert in charge of rewriting the rules of the U.S. health care system with a broad mandate to use the powers to the fullest. And following a tumultuous year marked by failed Obamacare repeal efforts and the abrupt resignation of Trump’s first HHS secretary, Republicans think Azar can ably get the Trump administration’s health agenda on track.

  • Trump Officials, After Rejecting Obama Medicare Model, Adopt One Like It New York Times by Robert Pear — In a notable back flip, the Trump administration has decided that maybe the Obama administration was right in its efforts to change the way doctors and hospitals are paid under Medicare. The Trump administration said late Tuesday that it was starting a Medicare payment model very similar to the ones it canceled and curtailed last year. The Obama administration devised the earlier projects using authority in the Affordable Care Act. In the new program, as described by Trump appointees, Medicare will make a single "bundled payment" for nearly all the services provided in a 90-day period to certain Medicare patients who are admitted to a hospital or have certain outpatient medical procedures. … "The current administration would like to reverse everything associated with the Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration," Dr. Fisher said. "But this week’s announcement shows that there is a bipartisan consensus on the need to change the way we deliver and pay for health care."

  • Republicans Scale Down Agenda for Safety-Net Programs, Health Law The Wall Street Journal by Kristina Peterson and Stephanie Armour — Republicans are scaling back their ambitions to overhaul safety-net programs and dismantle the Affordable Care Act following President Donald Trump’s weekend retreat with GOP leaders, due to concerns they can’t muster enough support ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Instead, Republican lawmakers are likely to embrace a slimmed-down agenda focused on the basics, including funding the government, raising the government debt limit, and striking a deal on immigration, according to GOP lawmakers and aides.

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