Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Kaiser Health News Headlines/Links Roundup


Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), a surprise Republican defector, is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, but the lack of protections for preexisting conditions has him and others spooked. Media outlets report on the state of play on Capitol Hill and where members stand on the vote.
The Washington Post: House Republicans Continue Health-Care Push, May Leave Changes To Senate
The aim has become very simple for House Republicans stumbling closer to passing a bill to revise the Affordable Care Act: just get it off their plates and over to the Senate. In the messy effort to rally their often unruly party around a measure to replace big parts of President Barack Obama’s health-care law, House leaders have been forced to leave other objectives by the wayside and focus on one simple, political goal: pass a bill they can say repeals Obamacare — even if it has no hope of survival in the Senate — to shield their members in next year’s elections. (Weigel and Winfield Cunningham, 5/1)

The Associated Press: Repeal Or Spare? Pressure Is On Moderates Over Health Care
Moderate Republicans face intense pressure on their party's latest attempt to scrap Democrat Barack Obama's health care law — from President Donald Trump, House GOP leaders, medical professionals and outside political groups. Back home, their constituents provide little clarity. In interviews, Associated Press reporters found views deeply held and deeply divided, reflective of dueling impulses to fulfill the seven-year-old GOP promise to repeal the law and to save many of its parts. (Mulvihill and Riccardi, 5/2)

The Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump Gambles On Big Health-Care Victory
The risk for Mr. Trump is that it is far from clear that Republicans can round up the 216 votes they need on health care, especially from GOP centrists, after making changes in their initial proposal to win over conservatives. The centrists are especially spooked by a provision allowing insurers in some states to charge higher premiums to patients with pre-existing medical conditions who have let their coverage lapse. Republican leaders on Monday ramped up their efforts to persuade this group, assuring centrists that the Senate would make changes to allay their concerns and insisting that few states would actually use the waivers allowing higher premiums for pre-existing conditions, according to people familiar with the matter. (Armour, Peterson and Andrews, 5/1)

The Wall Street Journal: Pre-Existing Conditions Provision In House Health Plan Divides GOP
A number of states would likely pursue waivers in the House Republican health plan enabling them to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions who let their coverage lapse, health analysts said. The waivers are the latest twist to the House GOP proposal that would topple most of the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a new plan that would bring steep Medicaid cuts and refundable tax credits to help people obtain health insurance if they don’t get it from their job. (Armour and Hackman, 5/1)

Politico: GOP Suffers Surprise Defection On Obamacare Repeal
President Donald Trump dialed up his campaign-trail ally Rep. Billy Long on Monday, after the Missouri Republican announced his decision to vote against the Republican plan to replace Obamacare. The goal was straightforward: Persuade Long to change his mind. It didn't work. Though Long hails from a deeply conservative district that overwhelmingly backed Trump over Hillary Clinton in November, and Long supported earlier versions of the legislation, the president's entreaties fell short, GOP insiders said. (Cheney, Bade and Dawsey, 5/1)

The Hill: In Surprise, Republican Says He's A No On Healthcare Bill
“I have always stated that one of the few good things about ObamaCare is that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered,” Long said in a statement. “The MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable.” (Sullivan, 5/1)

Roll Call: Even GOP Whip Team Undecided On Health Care
House Chief Deputy Whip Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina said Monday evening that Republicans are “very close” to winning the support needed to pass their health care overhaul. One place he might want to look: his own whip team. At least seven members said Monday they remain undecided. That list includes Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York, David Valadao of California, Kevin Yoder of Kansas, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Some of those members, a fraction of the roughly 100-person whip team, said they would have supported the version Republicans had planned to vote on in March before leaders canceled the vote because it lacked the support to pass. (McPherson and Mershon, 5/1)

McClatchy: Trump's Obamacare Repeal Bill Tough For Republicans In California 
The reluctance of California Republicans who fear losing re-election over the bill is a serious problem for national GOP leaders – who are desperate for a win and can only afford to lose 23 votes from among their 238 members in the U.S. House. At least nine of California’s 14 House Republicans so far have declined to publicly endorse the latest version of the American Health Care Act, the work-in-progress designed as the GOP alternative to the Obama administration’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (Cockerham and Doyle, 4/2)

The Hill: Dem Group Targets House GOP’s Revised Health Bill 
Democratic super PAC American Bridge’s nonprofit arm launched an ad campaign Tuesday targeting 17 House Republicans over the House GOP’s latest push to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Bridge Project’s digital ad, provided first to The Hill, argues that millions of people could lose coverage under the GOP proposal and say it will drive up costs for families, seniors and those living in rural areas. The minute-long spot also notes that the bill would make major cuts to Medicaid spending. (Hagen, 5/2)

The Associated Press: Lobbying By Hospitals, Doctors, Slows GOP Health Care Drive
"Obamacare" is showing surprising staying power, thanks in large part to doctors, hospitals and other health industry players opposing the alternatives that Republicans have proposed. The stories and perspectives they bring to the debate are grounded in the local community and the impact on finances and well-being. But also their professional associations are deep-pocketed campaign donors and major lobbying powers on Capitol Hill. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 5/1)

Politico: The Strange, Vegas-Style Marriage Of Paul Ryan And The Freedom Caucus
There were rumblings just before the election that the Freedom Caucus might try to take out Speaker Paul Ryan. Now the group of rebel conservatives is locking arms with him — at least momentarily. The fragile alliance has been sparked by their shared interest in finally tanking Obamacare, an eagerness to build momentum for the president’s agenda and a belief among hard-liners and leadership that each side has moved cautiously toward the other on health care. (Bade, 5/2)

The GOP bill prohibits its new tax credits from being used to purchase plans that cover abortion, but California and New York require essentially all insurance plans in the state to cover abortion, meaning that there might not be any options for people in those states receiving the tax credits. Meanwhile, a poll shows that defunding Planned Parenthood is unpopular even in Republican districts.
The Hill: Abortion Roils GOP ObamaCare Debate 
Tax credits under the House GOP’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill meant to help people afford insurance could be largely unusable in some blue states because of a showdown over abortion rules. The issue has largely flown under the radar, but it could have serious implications, potentially keeping people in California and New York from accessing assistance that helps them afford coverage under the bill. (Sullivan, 5/1)

The Hill: Poll: Majority Of Voters In 13 GOP Districts Oppose Defunding Planned Parenthood
The majority of voters in 13 Republican-held districts oppose defunding Planned Parenthood and the GOP's ObamaCare repeal bill, a new poll released first to The Hill shows. The Public Policy Polling survey shows 59 percent of voters in 13 districts won by Hillary Clinton oppose defunding Planned Parenthood, compared to the 35 percent who support it. (Hellmann, 5/2)

In other news on abortion —
President Donald Trump is pressing Congress to close the deal on health law negotiations but, as his recent comments show, he may not know the full extent of what is in the legislation he's championing.
The New York Times: Pushing For Vote On Health Care Bill, Trump Seems Unclear On Its Details
After two false starts on President Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Trump administration officials ratcheted up pressure on the House on Monday to vote on a revised version of the Republican repeal bill this week, even as support may actually be eroding. The president complicated his pitch with a jumble of statements that indicated he did not fully understand the content of the measure he was pushing. (Pear, 5/1)

The Associated Press: Pushing For Victories, Trump Shows Disconnect With House GOP
In interviews and Tweets, Trump has been notably off-topic and off-message about the state of affairs in Congress. His recent description of the health care bill suggested he was unfamiliar with how the bill addresses coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Congressional leaders and White House aides have struggled to agree on the level of optimism and timing for a vote. (Thomas and Werner, 5/1)

Bloomberg: Trump Wants Health-Care Bill To Protect Pre-Existing Conditions 
President Donald Trump said Monday the Republican health-care bill being negotiated in Congress ultimately will protect Americans with pre-existing conditions as well as Obamacare does. “I want it to be good for sick people. It’s not in its final form right now," he said during an Oval Office interview Monday with Bloomberg News. "It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare." (Talev, Jacobs and Epstein, 5/1)

CQ Roll Call: White House Mixes Signals On Health Care Votes
The White House delivered conflicting messages on Monday about whether there are enough votes among House Republicans to pass President Donald Trump’s long-promised overhaul of the 2010 health care law. Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters White House officials and GOP leaders are “closer and closer” to securing the votes needed to pass a measure (HR 1628) that would reconfigure the Obama administration’s signature domestic policy achievement. White House officials still "feel very good" about intraparty talks about getting the House GOP votes needed this week to pass a partial repeal and replace measure. There has been little evidence of major movement toward passage of the House GOP measure in recent days.  (Bennett, 5/1)

Politico: Dawdling Congress Tests Trump's Patience
The congressional GOP’s protracted efforts to repeal Obamacare could exact a heavy toll on the rest of Donald Trump’s legislative agenda. If repeal in the House is successful, action on some of the president's top legislative priorities is expected to be pushed back to late this year or even next year, when lawmakers will be up for reelection and more reluctant to cast tough votes. The delay also threatens to sap whatever Republican momentum remains from the election, in the midst of what’s often the most prolific stretch of a new presidency. (Everett and Kim, 5/2)

Politico: 5 Trump Health Care Promises That Won't Become Reality
Donald Trump broke the first campaign promise he made about Obamacare when he couldn’t scrap the law on the day he took office. He’ll get another chance to make good on the pledge this week, if the House takes up a revised repeal-replace plan. But the version of the legislation he’s endorsing undermines other key promises candidate and President-elect Trump made about the cost and quality of health care in America — not to mention the way he said he’d bring about change. (Diamond, 5/1) 

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