In Aftermath of New Study, GOP Furthers Resolve to Replace Obamacare

The American Health Care Act is in the hands of the Senate, where Republican lawmakers sound positive about the task of drafting their version of the Obamacare repeal legislation.

“We’re continuing to work on policy outcomes to bring the conference together, and most critically to lower health insurance premiums so that health care is more accessible,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Thursday.  

House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Thursday that it’s more urgent than ever for Congress to repeal Obamacare, after a new government report showed a doubling in the cost of individual health insurance plans since 2013.

“This law is in the middle of a collapse,” Ryan said. “We need to bring down the cost of coverage. And we need to revitalize the market so that people have real choices and real access to affordable health care. That’s what our plan will do.”

The House of Representatives voted by a razor-thin 217-213 May 4 to pass Republicans’ revised Obamacare replacement bill after President Donald Trump worked with Ryan to bring together House conservatives and centrists on the amended version.

Cruz’s remarks Thursday came after a meeting of the Senate’s health care working group, which officially includes him and 12 other GOP members.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has said the working group is open to anyone in the Republican conference.

“The working group that counts is all 52 of us,” McConnell,R-Ky., said in early May, referring to Republicans.

The group is tasked with drafting the Senate’s own proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, which may include parts of the plan that passed the House.

>>> Here Are the Challenges Facing the Senate After House Passes Obamacare Replacement Bill

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, also part of the working group, said the need to repeal Obamacare is urgent in his state.

“Every time I travel back to Utah I hear from constituents whose health insurance premiums are now higher than their mortgages,” Lee said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal. “This has to stop.”

For his part, Cruz said flexibility is the operative word:

The way the working group has proceeded, this has been for a couple months now, is starting on areas of common ground and … one of the most important is the need for more flexibility. More flexibility for states. More flexibility for consumers. And flexibility is a principle that can help produce consensus because flexibility is something that conservatives support and moderates support.

Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is also part of the working group shaping the upper chamber’s version of the American Health Care Act.

Committee staff told The Daily Signal that Enzi is focused on making sure the legislation meets requirements of the budget procedure known as reconciliation. These include that the results must save taxpayers at least $2 billion over 10 years.

Because of Democrats’ opposition to repealing Obamacare, formerly known as the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are using the reconciliation process because it requires 51 rather than 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to advance legislation.

Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action for America, the lobbying affiliate of The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email that the Senate is making good progress.

“While the entire process is taking significantly longer than many expected, the Senate is on track to pass their version this summer,” Holler said. “Doing so would not only deliver on a key campaign promise seven years in the making, but provide a much-needed legislative achievement for President Trump.”

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010. Ryan said the Obamacare numbers contained in the government report released Tuesday speak for themselves.

“Since Obamacare went into effect, average health care premiums have doubled nationwide,” the House speaker told reporters. adding:

Remember—remember when President Obama promised that his health care plan would lower a typical family’s premiums by up to $2,500? Under Obamacare, average premiums have gone up by nearly $3,000.

The report by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Obamacare, found that the average annual cost paid by a consumer for an individual health care plan in 2013 was $2,784.

By 2017, the average annual cost or an individual plan purchased on HealthCare.gov, the Obamacare website, was $5,712. Consumers in 39 states use HealthCare.gov rather than a state-run Obamacare insurance exchange.

>>> As Senate Mulls Obamacare Repeal, Insurers in 2 States Ask Double-Digit Premium Hikes

In a report released Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Obamacare replacement bill passed by House Republicans would reduce budget deficits by $119 billion from 2017 to 2026.

Under Obamacare, which mandates that Americans buy health insurance,  the number of those without insurance is estimated to be 28 million in 2026, according to the CBO report. The number of those without insurance would rise to 51 million under age 65 that same year if the American Health Care Act as passed by the House became law, the report says.

McConnell tweeted Thursday that Senate Republicans are busy.

The Senate majority leader urged Democrats to join in the process:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who presided over  Democrats’ passage of Obamacare when she was House speaker, was less positive about Republicans efforts to repeal and replace the health care law.

Democrats generally have urged that Congress can “fix” Obamacare’s problems.  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged Republicans to abandon the American Health Care Act as passed by the House:

Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., told The Daily Signal in an interview Thursday that in the end the American Health Care Act will be a success.

“The hurdle that we have to surpass is total failure,” Brat said, referring to  Obamacare. “So it’s easy to have a successful product measured against that benchmark … you can’t do any worse than total failure.”

The post In Aftermath of New Study, GOP Furthers Resolve to Replace Obamacare appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Key Takeaways From CBO Score of the Republican Health Care Bill

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) updated their score of the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) this week, prior to its being sent over to the Senate.

This budgetary analysis projects that if passed into law, the AHCA would reduce the number of insured by 23 million, but would decrease the deficit by $119 billion while also reducing federal outlays by $1.1 trillion and federal revenue by $992 billion.

While the score is roughly similar to the score from the original version of the AHCA released on March 23, several modifications to the law occurred since then and were not reflected in earlier estimates.

The new CBO score addresses the effect of allowing states to waive the Affordable Care Act essential health benefit and community rating requirements on premiums in particular.

Effects on Coverage and Premiums

First, the CBO finds that two million fewer people in 2020 and about one million fewer in 2026 would become uninsured under the AHCA.

They cite that this is due to “four million more people with employment-based coverage, as employers in states making changes to market regulations would probably view the insurance products in the nongroup market as less desirable alternatives and decide to offer insurance to their employees, and three million fewer people with nongroup coverage, as some would enroll in employment-based coverage, and others would become uninsured.”

This is an interesting way to frame the effects of the AHCA, since reducing premium levels by rolling back regulations could actually have the effect of making plans more desirable for individuals looking to pay less.

CBO lacks any real discussion of these positive effects.

As for premiums, the CBO finds the effects the same as previously estimated for roughly half the population, or for the people residing in states that did not pursue any waiver.

However, for the other half of the population, the CBO attempts to estimate the effects of different combinations of waiver decisions. They estimate that one-third of the population would be in states that make some changes to market regulations.

For these states, the CBO finds premiums to be 20 percent lower than under current law by 2026.

They also expect that these lower premiums would lead to more people having insurance, but fewer in the nongroup market—although “lower premiums could attract more enrollees to the nongroup market.”

About one-sixth of the population would reside in states that would substantially alter essential health benefits and waive community rating rules. For this population, the CBO projects “significantly lower premiums for those with low expected health care costs.”

However, they caveat that there is an issue of drastically raising premiums on higher-cost and older individuals in the market.

Ultimately, the CBO’s treatment of these effects could be more deeply analyzed. Most importantly, their methodology is relatively opaque, and ultimately includes an internal disagreement around whether or not lowering premiums leads to increased take-up in insurance coverage.

Regardless of these internal issues, the CBO still projects meaningful premium reductions by 2026 under the AHCA, especially with moderate regulatory reforms.

Medicaid and State Exchanges

The largest projected savings in the AHCA come from reforms in Medicaid, along with the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies in the individual market. The CBO’s score on Medicaid still reflects that they assume more states would likely have expanded in the future under the Affordable Care Act.

Thus, their projection that 14 million fewer people would be insured due to not having Medicaid under the AHCA might be overstated in all of their scores of the legislation.

Of that 14 million, four million will choose to be uninsured in 2018, which suggests the CBO’s methodology with regard to the effect of the individual mandate is unchanged from its original score of Obamacare.

In Medicaid, the CBO projects that these changes result in $834 billion savings from 2017-2026. There is little difference here between the past scores and the current.

Similar optimism from the CBO remains for the Affordable Care Act on the exchange side, as it is important to remember this number would be against a baseline that assumes the Affordable Care Act will enroll seven to eight million more people in the individual market, when in reality it does not appear this will be the case, as Avik Roy pointed out in response to the first score.

Nonetheless, savings from elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies is projected to amount to $665 billion in savings.

Key Takeaways

The CBO’s new score of the AHCA has not changed much from the previous iteration besides incorporating views about how the states will respond to the available waivers, and incorporating the increased spending also included in the manager’s amendments.

While there might be disagreements about the coverage effects of state waivers, it is clear that there are meaningful premium reductions from allowing states to pursue them.

Given this, the CBO has still done nothing to address the inherent uncertainty involved in scoring large, complex pieces of health legislation by hiding large considerations behind opaque methodologies.

It also has still failed to walk back its overly optimistic views on the power of the individual mandate or the performance of Obamacare moving forward.

The post Key Takeaways From CBO Score of the Republican Health Care Bill appeared first on The Daily Signal.

In 3 Charts, the Biggest Revelations From New Obamacare Study

Health care costs continue to rise under Obamacare.

A report released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services shows a significant hike in the average cost of individual plans since 2013 in 39 states.

In 2013, the average annual cost of a premium for an individual health care plan was $2,784. By 2017, the average annual cost for a premium for an individual health care plan on HealthCare.gov was $2,928. Thirty-nine states use HealthCare.gov.

Twenty-four states had Obamacare premiums in 2017 that were double the average individual premium in 2013.

In three states, the Obamacare premiums are now triple the average individual premium in 2013.

President Barack Obama promised premiums would go down under Obamacare.

“You should know that once we [have Obamacare] fully implemented, you’re going to be able to buy insurance through a pool so that you can get the same good rates as a group that if you’re an employee at a big company you can get right now—which means your premiums will go down,” Obama said in 2012.

Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a public policy research organization, told The Daily Signal in an email that Obamacare is flawed.

“The key promise the Obama administration made to Americans in the health reform debate was that their premium and health costs would go down,” Turner said, adding:

But year after year, families have seen their premiums soar. This new HHS study, looking at premium costs before and after Obamacare, proves that the law has failed dramatically to fulfill its promise.  

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement that “This report proves what Republicans have been saying for years—Obamacare was sold on lies that failed to deliver for the American people.”

Bob Moffit, a senior fellow and health care expert at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email that he is not surprised by the findings of the study.

“Obamacare has literally wrecked the individual market with skyrocketing premiums, crazy deductibles, restrictive physician networks, and a radical decline in plan participation and competition,” Moffit said. “The roots of the current crisis were baked into the law from the beginning, [along with] costly benefit mandates and inflexible insurance regulations.”

Drew Gonshorowski, a senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, who studies Medicare and Medicaid, said he is also unsurprised.

“This study shows something that we’ve already known about the exchanges for some time now–that premiums have and continue to rise drastically,” Gonshorowski said in an email to The Daily Signal.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the law cannot sustain itself.

In a report released Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Republican Obamacare replacement plan, the American Health Care Act, will reduce budget deficits by $119 billion from 2017-2026.

Under Obamacare, the number of uninsured is estimated to be 28 million in 2026, according to the report, which estimates that number would rise to 51 million the same year if the American Health Care Act became law.

The post In 3 Charts, the Biggest Revelations From New Obamacare Study appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Premiums Doubled Once Obamacare Took Full Effect, Report Says

Obamacare introduced new regulations into the health care marketplace that contributed to premiums doubling after the legislation took full effect in 2014, according to a report the Department of Health and Human Services released Tuesday evening.

HHS compared premiums in the exchange marketplaces in 2013, one year before Obamacare regulations took full effect, to premiums in the exchange marketplace in 2017. The report found that average monthly premiums increased from $224 in 2013 to $476 in 2017. That constitutes a 105 percent increase in only 4 years.

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“With data that shows average premiums doubling nationwide and Americans paying nearly $3,000 more for health insurance per year, this report is a sobering reminder of why reforming our health care system remains a top priority of the Trump Administration,” Alleigh Marré, national spokesman for HHS, said in a statement.

One of the main problems with Obamacare are the skyrocketing premiums. Insurers pull out of marketplaces where it is not cost-efficient for them to provide services, and, as a result, consumers are left with fewer options at higher prices.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, please email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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The House Has Passed Its Health Care Bill. Here’s What Senate Republicans Are Up To.

This week, a working group of United States senators began meeting on a biweekly basis to reach a consensus on how to repeal and replace Obamacare.

We are still very early in the process, but it is clear already that there is much work to be done before we can find the votes needed to reform our failing health care system.

The first topic the group focused on was rolling back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, a program that has given insurance cards to 11 million able-bodied adults without kids at a cost of $64 billion a year without improving their actual health care outcomes.

Conservatives in the room have three big priorities when it comes to Medicaid reform:

  1. Ending the enhanced federal spending on Medicaid expansion recipients;
  2. Setting an inflation rate for the per capita allotment that is fiscally responsible; and
  3. Increasing the flexibility of states to best provide quality health care for the low-income and vulnerable populations in their state.

Unfortunately, the House health care bill concedes that states will continue to receive federal Medicaid dollars for the new expansion population.

This categorical expansion is already a huge concession and should, at the very least, be part of a program reform that grows at a low rate closely resembling historical growth.

That is why many of my colleagues and I want to put the reformed per capita allotment Medicaid program on a sustainable fiscal path with a growth rate of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).

Hopefully, we will be able to also include additional flexibility for states to innovate and adopt new mechanisms that serve the unique needs of each state’s vulnerable populations.

The health care working group also addressed the individual insurance market, where conservatives pushed to repeal as many of Obamacare’s insurance regulations as possible.

The Obamacare regulations drive up the cost of health care the most.

They force insurers to cover everyone at the same price without respect to age, gender, or health status—even if these customers use drastically different amounts of health care each year, or if they wait to purchase coverage until they fall ill.

Another major regulation forces insurers to pay for an expansive list of “essential health benefits,” even when the customer doesn’t need or want to pay for that coverage.

Finally, another burdensome regulation tightly dictates how much insurers must pay out on each health care plan.

All of these regulations have driven up the price of premiums by 100 percent nationwide—in some places, monthly premiums cost more than someone’s mortgage.

Conservatives would like to clear the books of Obamacare’s most costly regulations and free the states to regulate their markets how they wish—even if that means re-applying these regulations to their markets.

Should this not be possible, we should at the very least give states the ability to choose which Obamacare regulations they do or do not want to keep.

All states would start off without any of these federal health insurance regulations, and then they would be able to pick and choose which ones they wanted to keep.

After the debate in the House, it is no longer news that the differences between the moderates and conservatives in the Republican Party on health care policy are substantial. It is unclear right now whether they can be bridged.

But my colleagues and I will keep trying.

We will keep meeting every week to hash out our differences and find common ground until we get something done that will lower premiums for millions of Americans, while strengthening our safety net programs for those who truly need them.

The post The House Has Passed Its Health Care Bill. Here’s What Senate Republicans Are Up To. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

The House Has Passed Its Health Care Bill. Here’s What Senate Republicans Are Up To.

This week, a working group of United States senators began meeting on a biweekly basis to reach a consensus on how to repeal and replace Obamacare.

We are still very early in the process, but it is clear already that there is much work to be done before we can find the votes needed to reform our failing health care system.

The first topic the group focused on was rolling back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, a program that has given insurance cards to 11 million able-bodied adults without kids at a cost of $64 billion a year without improving their actual health care outcomes.

Conservatives in the room have three big priorities when it comes to Medicaid reform:

  1. Ending the enhanced federal spending on Medicaid expansion recipients;
  2. Setting an inflation rate for the per capita allotment that is fiscally responsible; and
  3. Increasing the flexibility of states to best provide quality health care for the low-income and vulnerable populations in their state.

Unfortunately, the House health care bill concedes that states will continue to receive federal Medicaid dollars for the new expansion population.

This categorical expansion is already a huge concession and should, at the very least, be part of a program reform that grows at a low rate closely resembling historical growth.

That is why many of my colleagues and I want to put the reformed per capita allotment Medicaid program on a sustainable fiscal path with a growth rate of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).

Hopefully, we will be able to also include additional flexibility for states to innovate and adopt new mechanisms that serve the unique needs of each state’s vulnerable populations.

The health care working group also addressed the individual insurance market, where conservatives pushed to repeal as many of Obamacare’s insurance regulations as possible.

The Obamacare regulations drive up the cost of health care the most.

They force insurers to cover everyone at the same price without respect to age, gender, or health status—even if these customers use drastically different amounts of health care each year, or if they wait to purchase coverage until they fall ill.

Another major regulation forces insurers to pay for an expansive list of “essential health benefits,” even when the customer doesn’t need or want to pay for that coverage.

Finally, another burdensome regulation tightly dictates how much insurers must pay out on each health care plan.

All of these regulations have driven up the price of premiums by 100 percent nationwide—in some places, monthly premiums cost more than someone’s mortgage.

Conservatives would like to clear the books of Obamacare’s most costly regulations and free the states to regulate their markets how they wish—even if that means re-applying these regulations to their markets.

Should this not be possible, we should at the very least give states the ability to choose which Obamacare regulations they do or do not want to keep.

All states would start off without any of these federal health insurance regulations, and then they would be able to pick and choose which ones they wanted to keep.

After the debate in the House, it is no longer news that the differences between the moderates and conservatives in the Republican Party on health care policy are substantial. It is unclear right now whether they can be bridged.

But my colleagues and I will keep trying.

We will keep meeting every week to hash out our differences and find common ground until we get something done that will lower premiums for millions of Americans, while strengthening our safety net programs for those who truly need them.

The post The House Has Passed Its Health Care Bill. Here’s What Senate Republicans Are Up To. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Aetna’s Withdrawal From Exchanges Highlights Obamacare’s Inherent Problems

A major insurance company has decided to entirely withdraw from all of Obamacare‘s health insurance exchanges in 2018.

According to the Washington Examiner, the experience with Obamacare has been a financial disaster for Aetna, one of the nation’s largest insurance companies. The insurance giant sustained almost $700 million in losses between 2014 and 2016, and an estimated $200 million in projected losses for 2017.

Aetna joins a long line of insurers and health plans that have decided that the individual markets designed in exquisite regulatory detail by the Obama administration and its allies in Congress are no longer working.

As designed, they can’t work. This is a feature, not a bug of Obamacare, and why Congress needs to repeal and replace this dysfunctional law.

Aetna’s withdrawal follows a pattern. Insurers have been losing money and dropping out of the individual markets. In 2013, before Obamacare’s insurance provisions were enforced, there were 395 insurers selling plans in the individual markets throughout the United States. By 2017, there were just 218 insurers selling plans in the Obamacare exchanges, a drop of 45 percent.

Part of the reason for the declining number of insurers is that Obamacare’s exchanges are disproportionately enrolling older and sicker people, and discouraging the enrollment of younger and healthier people.

That was not supposed to happen. The Obama administration initially expected people aged 18 to 34 to account for approximately 40 percent of exchange enrollment. Instead, the higher claims costs of a larger than anticipated number of older people have been jacking up the insurance premiums, further discouraging younger people from signing up for coverage.

This year, exchange enrollees experienced another round of rate shocks. Nationwide premiums for standard plans have increased by an average of 25 percent, and people in those markets have experienced shocking deductibles ($6,092 for single and $12,383 for low-cost “bronze” coverage). Not surprisingly, there are thus far 500,000 fewer exchange enrollees this year than there were last year.

Obamacare’s health insurance regulations are making the cost increases worse. Based on a 2015 examination of the Affordable Care Act’s regulations, rooted in a review of actuarial studies in the professional literature, Heritage Foundation analysts estimated that the age-rating rule increased insurance premiums by about 33 percent for young people, and the mandated benefits by about 9 percent.

Even Obamacare’s individual mandate penalties haven’t been enough to stimulate Americans to buy coverage. The Obamacare penalties are a lot cheaper than the Obamacare insurance costs. Based on 2015 data, for example, 6.5 million people paid the mandate penalty and 12.7 million got exemptions.

The Senate needs to join the House and get to work on health care reform. The sooner, the better.

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Aetna Ditches Obamacare Entirely

Aetna announced Wednesday that it will stop offering Obamacare exchange plans in 2018, making it the latest major health insurance provider to completely opt out of former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care legislation.

The company cites massive losses among exchange participants and projects the problems to increase over the short term. Aetna will also cease to sell individual plans in Nebraska and Delaware, Bloomberg reports.

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“Our individual commercial products lost nearly $700 million between 2014 and 2016, and are projected to lose more than $200 million in 2017 despite a significant reduction in membership,” an Aetna spokesman said in an email.

Aetna is not the only insurance company leaving Obamacare exchanges. Humana announced in February that it will pull out of the exchanges entirely in 2018. It was the first major insurance provider to opt out of Obamacare under President Donald Trump.

The company said it tried to provide plans on exchanges for years where it could offer a “viable product.” Its decision to stop offering plans came after “seeing signs of an unbalanced risk pool based on the results of the 2017 open enrollment period, therefore we’ve decided that we can’t continue to offer this coverage in 2018,” Bruce Broussard, chief executive of Humana, told reporters.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, please email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Faced With Angry Voters, House Republicans Get Cover on Airwaves for Obamacare Repeal Bill

House Republicans fielding questions from constituents over their bill repealing and replacing Obamacare are getting some cover from GOP-aligned groups on the airwaves and online.

Republican lawmakers passed their health care bill last week and headed home to their districts for a weeklong recess. Upon arriving home, some GOP lawmakers are hosting town halls, where they’ve been facing constituents angry over the bill repealing and replacing the 2010 health care law.

At a townhall in Midlothian, Virginia, Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., confronted constituents who were angered by the conservative congressman over his support for the House GOP’s health care bill.

Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, also faced unhappy voters at a town hall Monday, many of whom yelled at the House Freedom Caucus member and questioned him about the Obamacare repeal plan.

For some members, the backlash from voters was a continuation from last month. When Republicans returned to their districts for a two-week Easter recess, opponents of the GOP’s efforts to dismantle the health care law flooded town halls and criticized lawmakers.

Craig Shirley, a historian and Ronald Reagan biographer, said Republicans need to be prepared to explain the health care bill to those in attendance and move “beyond just bashing Obamacare.”

“It’s up to the congressman to convince his constituents that the Trump bill, the House version, is a better bill than Obamacare, not a replacement, but improvement,” Shirley told The Daily Signal. “They need to convince the voters why the Republican version of pre-existing conditions is better. They have to go back and convince them that they’ll have basic coverage and show how premiums are going to go down and how deductibles are going to be improved.”

Shirley offered another piece of advice to GOP lawmakers holding town halls: charge for admission, and donate the proceeds to a local charity.

“Don’t make them free and open, because that’s an invitation for malcontent and trouble makers,” he said. “You will winnow out all the ultra-leftists, the anarchists, all the people who want to disrupt the town hall.”

While Republicans addressing voters this week are enduring criticism, GOP lawmakers are also getting cover from political groups on the airwaves at home.

American Action Network, a political nonprofit aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, launched a $2 million advertising campaign to thank congressional Republicans who backed the health care bill.

The TV ads are airing in 21 congressional districts, including those of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy; Freedom Caucus founding member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; and Tuesday Group Co-chairman Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., who authored the amendment that ultimately earned conservatives’ support for the bill.

The group is also offering air cover to Ryan specifically with a $500,000 national ad buy that started Monday.

The television ads are airing in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, which the House speaker represents, and will also play during MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and Fox News’ “Fox & Friends”—shows President Donald Trump is known to watch.

“It’s a bold plan to cut the deficit and provide $1 trillion of job-creating tax relief,” the ad says of the health care bill. “It puts patients and doctors back in charge of health care.”

“Thank Paul Ryan and House Republicans for keeping their word and fighting for the health care we deserve,” the ad concludes.

In addition to praising Republicans on the airwaves, American Action Network is providing further cover to congressional Republicans online.

The organization announced Wednesday a $250,000 digital ad campaign urging viewers to thank their members of Congress for supporting the House’s health care bill.

“Speaker Ryan and President Trump’s leadership rescued our health care, giving millions of Americans peace of mind knowing better care is on the way,” Corry Bliss, executive director of American Action Network, said in a statement.

The campaign will run on Google, Facebook, and other online platforms, and targets 25 congressional districts.

Last month, the Club for Growth released its own ad praising MacArthur for his work on the health care bill. The television ad, which ran in the New Jersey Republican’s district, urged MacArthur’s constituents to thank him.

“Rebuilding his Congress works? Tom MacArthur is doing his part,” the ad stated. “Congressman MacArthur’s working with President Trump and conservatives on a reform plan that finally repeals and replaces Obamacare.”

Though Republicans are getting some backing from the Ryan-aligned group, pro-Obamacare organizations have launched their own campaigns that take aim at congressional Republicans who supported the Obamacare repeal plan.

Save My Care, a pro-Obamacare advocacy group, launched a television ad campaign exceeding $500,000 on Monday criticizing the health care bill. The ads target 24 GOP lawmakers who voted to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, including Brat and MacArthur.

“Brat voted yes even though the bill makes coverage completely unaffordable to people with pre-existing conditions,” the ad states. “Congressman Brat, how could you do this to us?”

Republicans have been accused of gutting a provision of Obamacare that guarantees access to coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions through their health care bill.

The legislation passed by the House last week preserves that protection, but allows states to pursue a federal waiver from Obamacare’s community rating rules, which prohibit insurers from charging sick patients higher premiums.

Under the plan, only patients who live in states that are granted waivers and allow their coverage to lapse for more than 63 days would be subject to higher premiums. They can only be charged more for one year.

In states that decide not to pursue a waiver from the federal government, Obamacare’s provisions remain.

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Pro-Life Advocates Optimistic as One of Their Own Gets Key HHS Job

President Donald Trump’s appointment of a national pro-life leader to serve as the top communicator at the Department of Health and Human Services is great news for the pro-life cause, leaders at associated organizations say.

Charmaine Yoest, longtime head of the group Americans United for Life, will assume the responsibilities of assistant secretary for public affairs at the sprawling federal agency.

Yoest, 52, will be the principal public affairs adviser to HHS Secretary Tom Price, which puts her in charge of speechwriting, strategic planning, and broadcast and digital communications.

“We are going to see a radical transformation occur within HHS,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“I fully expect us [as a society] to talk about … the consequences of abortion on women,” Hawkins said.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, where Yoest worked for seven years, told The Daily Signal in an interview that she will have an important platform in the Trump administration working for Price:

In her capacity in public relations I am not sure exactly how deep she will get in policy directly, but I think indirectly she will have a huge impact making sure policies are consistent with the secretary’s vision, the president’s vision. And her knowing this [pro-life] issue inside and out, again, I think it’s going to have a significant impact.  

From August 2008 to February 2016, Yoest was CEO of Americans United for Life, a group that seeks to advance the legal and policy issues of the pro-life movement. She has extensive experience in working for conservative, pro-life officials and organizations on the national level.

Her start date at HHS is pending.

Yoest’s political experience began when, as a young woman, she was on the staff of the White House personnel office during President Ronald Reagan’s second term. She went on to work as a policy analyst and vice president of communications at the Washington-based Family Research Council. She briefly advised the 2008  presidential campaign of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Her new role as assistant secretary of public affairs at HHS, which does not require Senate confirmation, includes tasks such as overseeing the agency’s public affairs programming, leading its other public affairs activities, and managing digital communications.

Yoest, who will report directly to Price, also will oversee agency responses under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts, which allow individuals to access federal records. And she will direct a division that “leads the planning, development, and implementation of emergency incident communications strategies and activities.”

Yoest joins the administration at an important time, Melanie Israel, a research associate at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email.

“From respecting rights of conscience for health care entities to administering programs and grants, to establishing important agency regulations, there are many areas in which the Department of Health and Human Services can affirm the inherent dignity and worth of every person, from conception to natural death,” Israel said.

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, previously worked in the Office of the Secretary at HHS. In an interview, Mancini told The Daily Signal that Yoest will have a significant role to play in the agency’s policy messaging.

“All of the different things that are happening at HHS, whether it’s through the Centers for Disease Control or National Institutes of Health or the Food and Drug Administration or the many other programs that are happening through there, Charmaine will help them with their messaging and she is very gifted at communication both digitally and in person,” Mancini said.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation’s largest abortion provider, is not supportive of Yoest’s appointment.

“It is unacceptable that someone with a history of promoting myths and false information about women’s health is appointed to a government position whose main responsibility is to provide the public with accurate and factual information,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal.  

Yoest, Laguens said, “has spent her whole professional life opposing access to birth control and a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion.”

Kevin Griffis, Yoest’s predecessor at HHS during the Obama administration, recently joined Planned Parenthood as vice president of communications.

Under Yoest’s leadership, Americans United for Life developed a legislative package called the Women’s Protection Project, designed to provide lawmakers with “specific legislative solutions to the growing concerns regarding the health risks to women from abortion.”

Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an organization that seeks to educate society on the importance of protecting life, told The Daily Signal that such attacks on Yoest are are unfounded.

“I think she is terrific,” Donovan said in an interview. “She’ll be the most knowledgeable policy person, my guess would be, to ever hold a position like that,” adding:

She’s not only a great communicator with experience [in] the media, print and broadcast, but she has written extensive policy documents. She knows the issues inside and out.

The post Pro-Life Advocates Optimistic as One of Their Own Gets Key HHS Job appeared first on The Daily Signal.