House Conservative Leader Calls Obamacare Bailout Bill ‘Unacceptable’

The latest attempt at a legislative fix to Obamacare was met with a mixture of hesitance and outright opposition by Republicans who have repeatedly vowed to pass a comprehensive repeal and replace bill.

A bipartisan bill, which was introduced Tuesday by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., would temporarily reinstate the federal payments to insurers that President Donald Trump cut off days ago and, in a nod to Republicans, would allow states limited flexibility in offering cheaper, less comprehensive plans.

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The legislative fix was met with recrimination by top Republican lawmakers hours after its release. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., who chairs the Republican Study Committee, publicly criticized the bill and said he could not support legislation that does not fully repeal Obamacare.

“Obamacare is in a ‘death spiral.’ Anything propping it up is only saving what Republicans promised to dismantle,” Walker tweeted. He elaborated further in a statement posted on Twitter, saying, “The GOP should focus on repealing & replacing Obamacare, not trying to save it. This bailout is unacceptable.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., cast the bill as a costly continuation of Obamacare.

“None of our guys voted for Obamacare,” Cole told The Washington Post. “They’re not very interested in sustaining it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., refused to commit one way or the other, telling reporters, “We haven’t had a chance to think about a way forward yet,” when asked about the viability of the bill Tuesday afternoon. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., refused to comment.

After casting the bill as a short-term fix to stabilize the market Tuesday, Trump reversed course, tweeting Wednesday that he could not support a bill that reinstates cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which he recently discontinued.

Trump’s Wednesday tweet represents a significantly more definitive rebuke of the legislation relative to statements he made Tuesday night while addressing The Heritage Foundation.

“While I commend the bipartisan work done by Sens. Alexander and Murray,” Trump said during the Tuesday night speech, “I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.”

Earlier in the day, speaking at the White House, Trump described the bill as a “short-term deal” that would help “get us over this intermediate hump.”

A number of Republican senators insisted on waiting to give their opinion until more details have been released. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., dismissed the idea that the bill represents a quick fix.

“Most of the members of the conference are finding out about the details for the first time. I don’t think anybody beyond Lamar and a few others know,” Kennedy told Politico. “The details are important.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, echoed Kennedy’s sentiment, telling Politico, “I’m going to wait and examine the details.”

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, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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This Unelected Board Would Have Put Seniors’ Health Care at Risk. Now, It’s On the Chopping Block.

Finding bipartisan agreement on any issue today is rare, and on health reform, essentially non-existent. So what’s getting both Democrats and Republicans on the same wavelength?

Four words: Independent Payment Advisory Board.

This board, also known as IPAB, doesn’t quite exist yet. Under Obamacare, it was meant to be a powerful bureaucratic body of 15 unelected officials appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

It’s job? Recommend ways to cut spending on Medicare—the program that provides health care to millions of American seniors. Specifically, it would have to recommend cuts in order to meet Obamacare’s budget targets, but without doing any harm to seniors. A tough task.

But while it was supposed to issue its first order recommendation in 2014, the board hasn’t even been assembled yet. President Barack Obama never appointed members to sit on the board, and President Donald Trump hasn’t appointed any, either.

But the board continues to exist on the books of Obamacare, and that’s of concern to Republicans—and, it seems, some Democrats.

Reps. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., have introduced a bill that would repeal IPAB, and recently, the House Ways and Means Committee approved it. The bill has support from 43 Democrats and 221 Republicans.

The bipartisan concern is that Medicare policy should not be left to 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. Health policy analysts have long warned about these dangers, and members of both parties are responding.

To be clear, the board’s powers under Obamacare would be constrained. The board cannot make changes to cost-sharing rules, payment models, benefit offerings, or any structural reforms to the Medicare program. Its job is simply to make recommended spending cuts.

But turning this task over to 15 bureaucrats who can make arbitrary decisions about payment cuts to different medical treatments and procedures is unwise. That kind of concentrated power in the hands of unelected bureaucrats is just too much for a free society.

Moreover, IPAB would not be able to accomplish the kinds of deep structural reforms that Medicare needs. That is a job for Congress.

Medicare is a 50-year-old program that needs real reform, and that means having a heavy dose of market competition injected into it. It is these reforms, not arbitrary spending cuts from IPAB that will get Medicare costs under control.

Spending cuts from IPAB could also be counterproductive for seniors. They could actually jeopardize seniors’ access to care, and, as Heritage analysts and others have argued, push even more physicians out of the program.

After repealing IPAB, Congress should get to work on Medicare reform at the structural level.

The best course is to move to a flexible, market-driven premium support model. This would put patients in the driver’s seat, allowing them to choose the plan that best meets their needs, whether that be the traditional Medicare plan, an employer plan, or a private health plan.

Here, just as with the Medicare prescription drug program, the government would help cover the cost of a plan that the Medicare beneficiary chooses.

Real Medicare reform would empower patients, not bureaucrats. It would not only protect seniors’ access to quality care, but also expand personal choice and foster intense competition among Medicare plans and providers. That’s the right way to control costs.

This is all achievable. Once IPAB has been scrapped, the road to Medicare reform will be wide open. Congress should take the next steps in getting rid of IPAB—and we should all take heart that for once, bipartisan action is working.

The post This Unelected Board Would Have Put Seniors’ Health Care at Risk. Now, It’s On the Chopping Block. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

This Unelected Board Would Have Put Seniors’ Health Care at Risk. Now, It’s On the Chopping Block.

Finding bipartisan agreement on any issue today is rare, and on health reform, essentially non-existent. So what’s getting both Democrats and Republicans on the same wavelength?

Four words: Independent Payment Advisory Board.

This board, also known as IPAB, doesn’t quite exist yet. Under Obamacare, it was meant to be a powerful bureaucratic body of 15 unelected officials appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

It’s job? Recommend ways to cut spending on Medicare—the program that provides health care to millions of American seniors. Specifically, it would have to recommend cuts in order to meet Obamacare’s budget targets, but without doing any harm to seniors. A tough task.

But while it was supposed to issue its first order recommendation in 2014, the board hasn’t even been assembled yet. President Barack Obama never appointed members to sit on the board, and President Donald Trump hasn’t appointed any, either.

But the board continues to exist on the books of Obamacare, and that’s of concern to Republicans—and, it seems, some Democrats.

Reps. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., have introduced a bill that would repeal IPAB, and recently, the House Ways and Means Committee approved it. The bill has support from 43 Democrats and 221 Republicans.

The bipartisan concern is that Medicare policy should not be left to 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. Health policy analysts have long warned about these dangers, and members of both parties are responding.

To be clear, the board’s powers under Obamacare would be constrained. The board cannot make changes to cost-sharing rules, payment models, benefit offerings, or any structural reforms to the Medicare program. Its job is simply to make recommended spending cuts.

But turning this task over to 15 bureaucrats who can make arbitrary decisions about payment cuts to different medical treatments and procedures is unwise. That kind of concentrated power in the hands of unelected bureaucrats is just too much for a free society.

Moreover, IPAB would not be able to accomplish the kinds of deep structural reforms that Medicare needs. That is a job for Congress.

Medicare is a 50-year-old program that needs real reform, and that means having a heavy dose of market competition injected into it. It is these reforms, not arbitrary spending cuts from IPAB that will get Medicare costs under control.

Spending cuts from IPAB could also be counterproductive for seniors. They could actually jeopardize seniors’ access to care, and, as Heritage analysts and others have argued, push even more physicians out of the program.

After repealing IPAB, Congress should get to work on Medicare reform at the structural level.

The best course is to move to a flexible, market-driven premium support model. This would put patients in the driver’s seat, allowing them to choose the plan that best meets their needs, whether that be the traditional Medicare plan, an employer plan, or a private health plan.

Here, just as with the Medicare prescription drug program, the government would help cover the cost of a plan that the Medicare beneficiary chooses.

Real Medicare reform would empower patients, not bureaucrats. It would not only protect seniors’ access to quality care, but also expand personal choice and foster intense competition among Medicare plans and providers. That’s the right way to control costs.

This is all achievable. Once IPAB has been scrapped, the road to Medicare reform will be wide open. Congress should take the next steps in getting rid of IPAB—and we should all take heart that for once, bipartisan action is working.

The post This Unelected Board Would Have Put Seniors’ Health Care at Risk. Now, It’s On the Chopping Block. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Trump Admin Will Cease Paying Critical Obamacare Subsidies

The Trump administration announced Thursday night that it will cease making payments to a subsidy that helps low- to moderate-income individuals purchase Obamacare health insurance plans.

The U.S. government cannot lawfully continue making the cost-sharing reduction payments that help prop up the Affordable Care Act, the White House announced in a statement. President Donald Trump’s decision to nix the payments comes after several months of flirting with the idea.

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“The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system,” the White House said in a statement announcing the decision. “Congress needs to repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people.”

Trump has considered eliminating the cost-sharing reduction payments on several occasions, but decided to pull back while an impending lawsuit filed against the president’s predecessor in 2014 made its way through the courts. Lawmakers filed suit against the Obama administration at the time, claiming it was illegally reimbursing marketplace insurers for cost-sharing reduction payments.

Former House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders argued that cost-sharing reduction payments require congressional approval. Congress had never explicitly appropriated the funds for those payments, they argued, which made the administration’s actions unconstitutional.

After nearly two years of deliberation, a federal district court concluded the House’s claim had legal standing, and allowed the case to move forward in May 2016.

Trump’s decision to nix the cost-sharing reduction payments comes after he signed an executive order Thursday afternoon to begin formulating an approach to allow small businesses to join together across state lines to purchase coverage through what are known as association health plans. The executive order also expands access to short-term coverage plans that don’t comply with Obamacare requirements.

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, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Why Trump’s Executive Order on Health Care Is a Positive Step

President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on Thursday that moves health care a step in the right direction.

The executive order instructs the secretaries of treasury, labor, and health and human services to propose regulatory changes that would increase choice and competition in health insurance.

This is the right course of action. In the absence of congressional action to address Obamacare’s damage, Trump is right to seek ways within his power to help those hurt by Obamacare’s skyrocketing premiums and the reduced access to quality plans.

Trump’s executive order addresses three problems that hinder people’s access to the insurance and care they need.

First, small business employees and the self-employed are most hurt by Obamacare. The percentage of workers at small firms receiving coverage through their employer has declined from nearly half in 2010 to about one-third in 2017. They face skyrocketing premiums and reduced choice in plans.

One challenge small businesses face is that, under current interpretations of a federal employee benefit law, they are limited in their ability to band together and secure coverage similar to plans offered by larger employers.

Obamacare exacerbated that problem by imposing costly new benefit mandates on small employer plans, but not on large employer plans. Thus, Trump is right to ask the Department of Labor to help by exploring ways to update this interpretation.

A change of this sort could allow small businesses and the self-employed to escape Obamacare’s costly benefit mandates and access new options run by associations that they have a stake in.

It could also help more small employers offer coverage to their workers. Newly enrolled individuals could save money—up to 20 to 50 percent on the cost of their insurance—by taking advantage of the tax break for employer-provided health insurance.

Second, President Barack Obama’s administration sharply reduced access to a low-cost option known as short-term, limited duration insurance.

These plans are often one-third of the cost of the cheapest Obamacare plans, yet typically feature broad provider networks and high coverage limits. That makes it harder than it should be for people between jobs to access a low-cost insurance plan.

As a result, people between jobs face suboptimal choices such as buying Obamacare’s heavily regulated and expensive plans, or going on Medicaid.

To address this, Trump rightly asks the Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider reversing Obama’s decision.

Third, the Obama administration issued regulations limiting the ability of businesses to offer their employees coverage through “Health Reimbursement Arrangements,” in order to force such plans to comply with Obamacare’s standardized, one-size-fits-all benefit design.

Yet the whole point of those plans is to give businesses and workers a tool for customizing their health benefits according to their own needs and preferences.

Thus, Trump has rightly asked the Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to explore ways to revise those regulations so that employers and workers have more flexibility and choices for health benefits.

While Trump’s executive order on health care is a step in the right direction, he needs Congress to get back to work in order to more fully improve our health system. The administration can only do so much, as it has to work within the confines of exiting law, including Obamacare.

For instance, the administration likely has sufficient authority to revise the regulations on health reimbursement arrangements so that employers have new options to give workers tax-free contributions to buy the individual market coverage of their choice.

But the potential benefits of that policy change will remain largely unrealized, so long as the law prevents insurers from offering anything other than Obamacare’s limited menu of standardized, over-regulated, over-priced individual market plans.

Thus, Congress needs to do its job, fully undo Obamacare’s damage, and offer broader relief to all Americans struggling with rising premium costs and reduced choice of plans.

The post Why Trump’s Executive Order on Health Care Is a Positive Step appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Why Trump’s Executive Order on Health Care Is a Positive Step

President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on Thursday that moves health care a step in the right direction.

The executive order instructs the secretaries of treasury, labor, and health and human services to propose regulatory changes that would increase choice and competition in health insurance.

This is the right course of action. In the absence of congressional action to address Obamacare’s damage, Trump is right to seek ways within his power to help those hurt by Obamacare’s skyrocketing premiums and the reduced access to quality plans.

Trump’s executive order addresses three problems that hinder people’s access to the insurance and care they need.

First, small business employees and the self-employed are most hurt by Obamacare. The percentage of workers at small firms receiving coverage through their employer has declined from nearly half in 2010 to about one-third in 2017. They face skyrocketing premiums and reduced choice in plans.

One challenge small businesses face is that, under current interpretations of a federal employee benefit law, they are limited in their ability to band together and secure coverage similar to plans offered by larger employers.

Obamacare exacerbated that problem by imposing costly new benefit mandates on small employer plans, but not on large employer plans. Thus, Trump is right to ask the Department of Labor to help by exploring ways to update this interpretation.

A change of this sort could allow small businesses and the self-employed to escape Obamacare’s costly benefit mandates and access new options run by associations that they have a stake in.

It could also help more small employers offer coverage to their workers. Newly enrolled individuals could save money—up to 20 to 50 percent on the cost of their insurance—by taking advantage of the tax break for employer-provided health insurance.

Second, President Barack Obama’s administration sharply reduced access to a low-cost option known as short-term, limited duration insurance.

These plans are often one-third of the cost of the cheapest Obamacare plans, yet typically feature broad provider networks and high coverage limits. That makes it harder than it should be for people between jobs to access a low-cost insurance plan.

As a result, people between jobs face suboptimal choices such as buying Obamacare’s heavily regulated and expensive plans, or going on Medicaid.

To address this, Trump rightly asks the Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider reversing Obama’s decision.

Third, the Obama administration issued regulations limiting the ability of businesses to offer their employees coverage through “Health Reimbursement Arrangements,” in order to force such plans to comply with Obamacare’s standardized, one-size-fits-all benefit design.

Yet the whole point of those plans is to give businesses and workers a tool for customizing their health benefits according to their own needs and preferences.

Thus, Trump has rightly asked the Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to explore ways to revise those regulations so that employers and workers have more flexibility and choices for health benefits.

While Trump’s executive order on health care is a step in the right direction, he needs Congress to get back to work in order to more fully improve our health system. The administration can only do so much, as it has to work within the confines of exiting law, including Obamacare.

For instance, the administration likely has sufficient authority to revise the regulations on health reimbursement arrangements so that employers have new options to give workers tax-free contributions to buy the individual market coverage of their choice.

But the potential benefits of that policy change will remain largely unrealized, so long as the law prevents insurers from offering anything other than Obamacare’s limited menu of standardized, over-regulated, over-priced individual market plans.

Thus, Congress needs to do its job, fully undo Obamacare’s damage, and offer broader relief to all Americans struggling with rising premium costs and reduced choice of plans.

The post Why Trump’s Executive Order on Health Care Is a Positive Step appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Trump, Paul Forge Alliance on ‘Biggest Free-Market Reform of Health Care in Generation’

Unable so far to achieve even a partial rollback of Obamacare from Congress, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday that could make it easier for some consumers to buy insurance across state lines—potentially increasing competition.

“Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up … and you’ll get such low prices,” @POTUS says.

“The competition will be staggering,” Trump said before signing the order. “Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up, and you will be hopefully negotiating, negotiating, negotiating, and you’ll get such low prices for such great care.”

“Should have been done a long time ago, and it could have been done a long time ago,” he said.

Trump’s executive order primarily does three things:

  • Allows more small businesses to form associations to buy insurance plans, with the goal of creating more competition and expanding options across state lines.
  • Reviews establishment of “short-term limited duration insurance,” which would not be subject to Obamacare’s expensive and comprehensive coverage regulations.
  • Makes it easier for businesses to offer health reimbursement accounts, to allow more employees of small businesses to get coverage through work.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who opposed the recent Graham-Cassidy measure in the Senate to roll back Obamacare, heralded the executive order during the White House ceremony.

“President Trump is doing what I believe is the biggest free-market reform of health care in a generation. This reform, if it works and goes as planned, will allow millions of people to get insurance across state lines at an inexpensive price,” Paul said, speaking before the president did.

Trump, during his remarks, acknowledged the significance of the support from Paul, with whom he sparred during the 2016 Republican presidential primary season.

“I can say, when you get Rand Paul on your side, it has to be positive, that I can tell you. Boy,” Trump said to laughter and applause. “I was just saying as he’s getting up and saying all these wonderful things about what we’re going to be announcing, I said, ‘Boy, that’s pretty unusual. I’m very impressed.’”

Trump nearly walked away after his remarks before Vice President Mike Pence reminded him he still had to sign the order. After signing it, Trump gave the pen to Paul.

Trump did take a veiled swipe at congressional inaction on dismantling Obamacare when he noted: “For a long period of time since I’ve started running and since I became president of the United States, I just keep hearing ‘Repeal and replace, repeal and replace.’ Well, we’re starting that process, and we’re starting it in a very positive manner.”

After two tries, the House passed a measure to replace the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, but the Senate failed twice to get legislation to a conference committee after a few Republican defections–one of whom was Paul the last time.

“He is trying to give relief to Americans, through small group coverage, who are looking at horrendous premium increases,” Robert Moffit, a senior fellow in health policy at The Heritage Foundation and a former deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services.

“There has to be an option for people that don’t get subsidies or we will see a reversal in the gains from Obamacare,” Moffit said. “There will be more uninsured.”

The Senate first tried to passed a “skinny repeal” of Obamacare that failed in a floor vote after three Republican defections: Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

A subsequent bill sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., focused on block-granting health care dollars to the states but never made it to a floor vote after Collins, McCain, and Paul all came out against it. By that point, Murkowski had said that she disliked the process.

“You look at what’s happening with the premiums and the increases of 100 percent and 120 percent, and even in one case, Alaska, over 200 percent and now, every congressional Democrat has blocked the effort to save Americans from Obamacare, along with a very small, frankly, handful of Republicans–three,” Trump said, adding:

Premiums have gone skyrocketing, [and] today, one-third of all the counties in America have only a single insurer selling coverage on an exchange, and next year it looks like nearly half of all counties in our country—think of that—all of the counties, one half will have only one insurer, and many will have none.

The post Trump, Paul Forge Alliance on ‘Biggest Free-Market Reform of Health Care in Generation’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Trump, Paul Forge Alliance on ‘Biggest Free-Market Reform of Health Care in Generation’

Unable so far to achieve even a partial rollback of Obamacare from Congress, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday that could make it easier for some consumers to buy insurance across state lines—potentially increasing competition.

“Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up … and you’ll get such low prices,” @POTUS says.

“The competition will be staggering,” Trump said before signing the order. “Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up, and you will be hopefully negotiating, negotiating, negotiating, and you’ll get such low prices for such great care.”

“Should have been done a long time ago, and it could have been done a long time ago,” he said.

Trump’s executive order primarily does three things:

  • Allows more small businesses to form associations to buy insurance plans, with the goal of creating more competition and expanding options across state lines.
  • Reviews establishment of “short-term limited duration insurance,” which would not be subject to Obamacare’s expensive and comprehensive coverage regulations.
  • Makes it easier for businesses to offer health reimbursement accounts, to allow more employees of small businesses to get coverage through work.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who opposed the recent Graham-Cassidy measure in the Senate to roll back Obamacare, heralded the executive order during the White House ceremony.

“President Trump is doing what I believe is the biggest free-market reform of health care in a generation. This reform, if it works and goes as planned, will allow millions of people to get insurance across state lines at an inexpensive price,” Paul said, speaking before the president did.

Trump, during his remarks, acknowledged the significance of the support from Paul, with whom he sparred during the 2016 Republican presidential primary season.

“I can say, when you get Rand Paul on your side, it has to be positive, that I can tell you. Boy,” Trump said to laughter and applause. “I was just saying as he’s getting up and saying all these wonderful things about what we’re going to be announcing, I said, ‘Boy, that’s pretty unusual. I’m very impressed.’”

Trump nearly walked away after his remarks before Vice President Mike Pence reminded him he still had to sign the order. After signing it, Trump gave the pen to Paul.

Trump did take a veiled swipe at congressional inaction on dismantling Obamacare when he noted: “For a long period of time since I’ve started running and since I became president of the United States, I just keep hearing ‘Repeal and replace, repeal and replace.’ Well, we’re starting that process, and we’re starting it in a very positive manner.”

After two tries, the House passed a measure to replace the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, but the Senate failed twice to get legislation to a conference committee after a few Republican defections–one of whom was Paul the last time.

“He is trying to give relief to Americans, through small group coverage, who are looking at horrendous premium increases,” Robert Moffit, a senior fellow in health policy at The Heritage Foundation and a former deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services.

“There has to be an option for people that don’t get subsidies or we will see a reversal in the gains from Obamacare,” Moffit said. “There will be more uninsured.”

The Senate first tried to passed a “skinny repeal” of Obamacare that failed in a floor vote after three Republican defections: Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

A subsequent bill sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., focused on block-granting health care dollars to the states but never made it to a floor vote after Collins, McCain, and Paul all came out against it. By that point, Murkowski had said that she disliked the process.

“You look at what’s happening with the premiums and the increases of 100 percent and 120 percent, and even in one case, Alaska, over 200 percent and now, every congressional Democrat has blocked the effort to save Americans from Obamacare, along with a very small, frankly, handful of Republicans–three,” Trump said, adding:

Premiums have gone skyrocketing, [and] today, one-third of all the counties in America have only a single insurer selling coverage on an exchange, and next year it looks like nearly half of all counties in our country—think of that—all of the counties, one half will have only one insurer, and many will have none.

The post Trump, Paul Forge Alliance on ‘Biggest Free-Market Reform of Health Care in Generation’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Universal Coverage? My Fourth Health Care Plan Just Died Thanks to Obamacare

Cue the funeral bagpipes. My fourth health insurance plan is dead.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I received yet another cancellation notice for our private, individual health insurance coverage. It’s our fourth Obamacare-induced obituary in four years.

Our first death notice, from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, arrived in the fall of 2013. The insurer informed us that because of “changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA),” our plan no longer met the federal government’s requirements.

Never mind our needs and desires as consumers who were quite satisfied with a high-deductible preferred provider organization that included a wide network of doctors for ourselves and our two children.

Our second death knell, from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, tolled in August 2015. That notice signaled the end of a plan we didn’t want in the first place that didn’t cover our kids’ dental care and wasn’t accepted at our local urgent care clinic.

The insurer pulled out of the individual market in all but one county in Colorado, following the complete withdrawal from that sector by Humana and UnitedHealthcare.

Our third “notice of plan discontinuation,” again from Anthem, informed us that the insurer would “no longer offer your current health plan in the state of Colorado” in August 2016.

With fewer and fewer choices as know-it-all Obamacare bureaucrats decimated the individual market here and across the country, we enrolled in a high-deductible Bronze HSA EPO (Health Savings Account Exclusive Provider Organization) offered by Minneapolis-based startup Bright Health.

Now, here we are barely a year later: Deja screwed times four. Our current plan will be discontinued on Jan. 1, 2018.

“But don’t worry,” Bright Health’s eulogy writer chirped, “we have similar plans to address your needs.”

Riiiiight. Where have I heard those pie-in-the-sky promises before? Oh, yeah. Straight out of the socialized medicine Trojan horse’s mouth.

“If you like your doctor,” President Barack Obama promised, “you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

Is pathological lying covered under the Affordable Care Act?

Speaking of Affordable Care Act whoppers, so much for “affordable.” Our current deductible is $6,550 per person—$13,100 for our family of four. Assuming we can find a new plan at the bottom of the individual market barrel, our current monthly premium, $944.86, will rise to more than $1,300 a month.

“What’s taking place is a market correction; the free market is at work,” says Colorado’s state insurance commissioner, Marguerite Salazar. “[T]his could be an indication that there were too many options for the market to support.”

This presumptuous central planner called federal intervention to eliminate “too many” options for consumers the free market at work. Yes, friends, the Rocky Mountain High is real.

This isn’t a “market correction.” It’s a government catastrophe.

Premiums for individual health plans in Virginia are set to skyrocket nearly 60 percent in 2018. In New Hampshire, those rates will rise 52 percent.

In South Carolina, individual market consumers will face an average 31.3 percent hike. In Tennessee, they’ll see rates jump between 20-40 percent.

Private, flexible preferred provider organizations for self-sufficient, self-employed people are vanishing by design. The social-engineered future—healthy, full-paying consumers being herded into government-run Obamacare exchanges and severely regulated regional health maintenance organizations—is a bipartisan big government health bureaucracy’s dream come true.

These choice-wreckers had the arrogant audacity to denigrate our pre-Obamacare plans as “substandard” (Obama), “crappy” (MSNBC big mouth Ed Schultz), and “junk policies” (Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa).

When I first called attention to the cancellation notice tsunami in 2013, liberal Mother Jones magazine sneered that the phenomenon was “phony.” And they’re still denying the Obamacare death spiral. Liberal Vox Media recently called the crisis “a lie.”

I don’t have enough four-letter words for these propagandists. There are an estimated 450,000 consumers like us in Colorado and 17 million of us nationwide—small business owners, independent contractors, and others who don’t get their plans through group coverage, big companies, or government employers.

The costs, headaches, and disruption in our lives caused by Obamacare’s meddling meddlers are real and massive.

But we’re puzzles to corporate media journalists who’ve never had to meet a payroll and don’t even know what is the individual market.

We’re invisible to late night TV clowns who get their Obamacare-at-all-costs talking points from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

We’re pariahs to social justice health care activists and Democrats who want us to just shut up and subsidize everyone else’s insurance.

And we’re expendables to establishment Republicans who hoovered up campaign donations on the empty promise to repeal Obamacare—and now consider amnesty for immigrants here illegally and gun control higher legislative priorities than keeping their damned word.

We’re the canaries in the Obamacare coal mine. Ignore us at your peril, America. You’re next.

The post Universal Coverage? My Fourth Health Care Plan Just Died Thanks to Obamacare appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Trump Administration Undoes Obamacare’s Egregious Assault on Religious Freedom, Conscience Rights

The Trump administration issued interim final rules Friday that will provide much-needed relief to those with moral or religious objections to one of Obamacare’s most egregious assaults on rights of conscience and religious liberty: the HHS mandate.

The mandate, from the Department of Health and Human Services, requires that nearly all insurance plans must cover abortion-inducing drugs and contraception. This onerous mandate is a burden on employers, individuals, and religious organizations who, because of their beliefs concerning the protection of unborn human life, are faced with the decision to violate sincerely held religious or moral beliefs, pay steep fines, or forgo offering or obtaining health insurance entirely.

The Trump administration’s interim final rules (which will go into effect immediately) provide relief for employers and educational institutions with religious objections to the mandate, as well as relief for certain organizations with similar objections based on moral convictions.

The origin of the mandate can be traced to Obamacare’s charge to the Department of Health and Human Services to outline the types of preventative services that health insurance plans must cover. HHS issued guidelines requiring coverage of all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures, which includes certain abortion-inducing drugs.

Confronted by scores of religious organizations affected by the rule, the Obama administration proposed a wholly inadequate religious liberty exemption.

As previously explained at The Daily Signal,

The HHS guidelines initially included a very narrow religious exemption that effectively applied only to houses of worship. The Obama administration later extended the religious exemption to houses of worship and their integrated auxiliaries (such as church-run soup kitchens).

But other religious employers (such as hospitals, schools, and social service organizations) and businesses remained responsible for complying with the mandate, despite sincere moral or religious objections.

The Supreme Court provided relief to Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, family-owned businesses with religious convictions contrary to the mandate (in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) and to certain religious institutions (in Zubik v. Burwell). But many individuals, employers, and organizations remained subject to the mandate.

Friday’s interim final rules rightly note that the United States “has a long history of providing conscience protections in the regulation of health care entities and individuals with objections based on religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

Predictably, liberals have immediately caricatured the interim final rules as the administration’s attempt to deny women access to contraception, when in fact they do no such thing.

The administration calculates that the rules will affect the roughly 200 employers that previously filed lawsuits or object to the mandate on religious or moral grounds, and “the number of women whose contraceptive costs will be impacted by the expanded exemption…is less that 0.1 percent of the 55.6 million women in private plans receiving preventive services coverage.” In other words, nearly all women in the United State will be unaffected by the rule.

Nor do the new exemptions affect the many existing programs that subsidize contraception at the local, state, and federal level. Moreover, the rules outline, at length, the various ways that women will remain free to make their own decisions about, and purchase or find coverage for, contraception. The only thing the exemption does is to exempt those with objections from coercion to be complicit in choices that would violate their religious or moral convictions.

While the administration has provided regulatory relief from the mandate, there are also still pending cases regarding the mandate in courts across the country – including the case brought forward by the Little Sisters of the Poor. The government still needs to take action to resolve these cases, and it should do so immediately.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump stood in the Rose Garden to unveil an executive order on religious liberty and instructed the secretaries of Treasury, Labor, and HHS to address conscience objections to the mandate. Friday’s action is sound policy that will provide meaningful relief to Americans who have spent years raising objections to one of Obamacare’s most egregious assaults on rights of conscience and religious liberty.

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