Mary Ellen McIntire

Health Groups Voice Concerns Over Short-Term Plan Proposal
Industry frets that premiums will rise, choice will go down

The health care industry is largely united in its opposition to the Trump administration’s proposal to expand how long people can be covered by short-term health plans.

Health care and advocacy groups raised concerns about allowing consumers to maintain a short-term insurance policy for just under 12 months rather than the current 90 days, providing an alternative type of coverage to that sold on the marketplaces set up under the 2010 health care law. Their comment letters to the administration predicted that the proposal would drive up premiums and decrease consumers’ choices for plans sold on the exchanges.

Bipartisan Health Care Compromise Falls Apart, Obamacare Battle Continues

The politics of health care reared its ugly head yet again.

A grand, bipartisan bargain to stabilize the U.S. individual insurance market fell apart this week. And members on both sides of the aisle turned to what they know best: blaming the other party.

States Weigh Response to Proposed Short-Term Health Plan Rule
Trump administration wants to expand temporary plans, but some states worry it could undermine their marketplaces

The Trump administration’s proposal to increase how long consumers can maintain a short-term health insurance policy offers states an opportunity to either rebel or endorse the change.

While officials in some states are looking to reject the proposed rule — which would allow people to be covered by a short-term, limited duration health plan for 364 days — others have sought to codify the proposal in state law.

Senators Target Physicians, Drugmakers in Opioid Bill
Bipartisan group hopes to make headway on drug crisis

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would waive limits on physicians treating addiction patients and place restrictions on how long a provider could initially prescribe opioids to patients.

The bill, known as CARA 2.0, would address the opioid epidemic from several angles, including both health care providers and drugmakers. It aims to build on earlier opioid legislation, which cleared in 2016 as part of a broader health care measure that included mental health changes and aimed to spur new medical treatments.

GOP Plans to Keep Discussing Health Care, Even if Trump Does Not

Health care policy isn’t set to be a major focus of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address Tuesday, although some Republicans say the GOP needs to talk about the rising costs of health insurance.

Republicans on Capitol Hill say they don’t want Trump to shy away from talking about health care, despite the fact that the 2010 health care law remains mostly intact a year into the GOP-controlled Congress and Trump presidency. Some Republicans say they’d like to hear Trump encourage lawmakers to keep working to address rising premium costs.

Poll: More Adults Without Health Insurance After Record Low
1.3 percent uptick in 2017

The percentage of adults without health insurance coverage rose 1.3 percent in 2017, from a record low during the previous year, a new Gallup poll shows. Last year’s rise marked the largest single-year increase since Gallup began tracking the statistic in 2008.

The uninsured rate rose to 12.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to 10.9 percent in 2016, according to the survey. That translates to an additional 3.2 million Americans who became uninsured last year.

HHS Political Appointees’ Résumés Show Ties to Price, Pence
Many also have links to conservative groups close to vice president

Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services include at least 16 staffers with ties to former Secretary Tom Price and at least 12 with connections to Vice President Mike Pence or Indiana, a review of 129 résumés of appointed staffers in the department shows.

Pence’s influence over the agency can be seen in the appointment of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, who worked closely with the former Indiana governor to expand Medicaid in that state, and the appointment of Verma’s deputy Brian Neale, who currently oversees Medicaid and served as Pence’s health care policy director in Indiana. A number of staffers also have ties to conservative groups close to Pence, such as the Heritage Foundation and anti-abortion organizations.

Advocates Push Passage of Health Deal as Open Enrollment Nears
CBO says it’s too late for lower premiums next year, but hopes for ’19 remain

Democrats concerned about the confusion surrounding individual health insurance are urging a vote on bipartisan legislation to stabilize the marketplaces as a sign-up period next week creeps closer.

Still, it appears increasingly likely that lawmakers won’t consider such a proposal until closer to the end of the year. And many experts say the bill’s impact for 2018 would be modest anyway.

Hatch Deals Blow to Bipartisan Health Care Bill
Prospects dim after opposition from Senate Finance chairman

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch has dealt an emerging bipartisan health care bill a body blow.

President Donald Trump has sent mixed messages on his stance on the legislation from Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and ranking Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, saying he opposed it Wednesday after saying he supported it Tuesday

Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal on Health Care
Alexander, Murray have an agreement on stabilizing insurance marketplaces

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander said he has reached an agreement with Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the panel’s ranking Democrat, on a limited deal to stabilize the individual health insurance markets.

Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, briefed GOP senators on that deal during their weekly policy lunch Tuesday.

Trump to Stop Paying Obamacare Cost-Sharing Subsidies
Schumer and Pelosi: ‘American families will suffer just because President Trump wants them to’

The administration will stop reimbursing health insurers for the 2010 health care law’s controversial cost-sharing reduction payments, the White House said Thursday night.

“Based on guidance from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare,” the White House Office of the Press Secretary said in a statement. “In light of this analysis, the Government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments.”

Cassidy Eyes Changes to Health Care Bill While Trying to Win Support
Senate GOP opted not to take a vote on measure last week

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy said there will be changes to a proposal he wrote to overhaul the 2010 health law as he and fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina try to win more support for the measure while other lawmakers focus on tax legislation.

“There are some things that inevitably have to change, but we do think that the format of what we’re doing and the principles of what we’re doing are good and that the American people will like it because it’s ultimately about fairness,” Cassidy said Monday on the Big Story Podcast with CQ Roll Call.

Podcast: Cassidy Says He's Not Giving Up on His Health Care Plan
The Big Story, Episode 74

Louisiana's Sen. Bill Cassidy, a key architect of the Graham/Cassidy health care overhaul proposal, tells CQ Roll Call that with some adjustments and time he believes he can gain enough support to pass the measure and end Obamacare.

He talks to Roll Call leadership editor Jason Dick, political reporter Joseph William and CQ health reporter Mary Ellen McIntire.

Next Health Secretary Could Set Course for Insurance System
Price’s successor will put own stamp on Obamacare

With the health care debate sidelined on Capitol Hill, the next Health and Human Services secretary will have the ability to determine the Trump administration’s approach on the current health care law.

Despite seven years of promises, Republicans have been unable to roll back the 2010 health care law as they’d planned before the end of September. The vacancy left by former Secretary Tom Price, who resigned last week amid scrutiny of his private jet use, added another challenge to a politically divisive battle.

Narrow Health Deal Close as Republicans Plot Future Efforts

Senate Democrats say lawmakers are on the cusp of a bipartisan health care deal aimed at stabilizing the individual insurance market over the next two years.

Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, the chairman and ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, resumed talks on a narrow stabilization package after Republicans decided not to vote this week on a proposal to overhaul the 2010 health care law.

Updated Senate Health Bill Seeks to Sway Holdout Republicans

Senate Republicans are circulating an updated version of their latest proposal to overhaul the 2010 health care law. The new draft bill was obtained by CQ Roll Call.

The updated bill, from Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-.S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., would overhaul the 2010 health care law. It appears to seek to address concerns of senators who haven’t supported the plan.

Podcast: Latest Obamacare Repeal Bill Unravels
The Week Ahead, Episode 71

Sen. John McCain’s opposition to the latest Republican bill to repeal Obamacare may well kill it, says Roll Call Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski. CQ health reporter Mary Ellen McIntire explains what’s in the bill.

Show Notes:

How Graham-Cassidy Stacks Up, in One Chart
Comparing the Senate GOP's latest plan, and the House-passed option, to current law

Senate leaders are considering an attempt next week to pass a repeal of the 2010 health care law, while chamber rules still allow for a 50-50 vote option. Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., put together a proposal — after the chamber considered and rejected multiple other options this summer — that they hope will get the repeal over the finish line.

McConnell Opens Door to Health Care Vote Next Week

Senate leaders are preparing to hold a vote on an alternative to the 2010 health care law next week, although 50 Republicans have not confirmed they would vote for the proposal.

“It is the Leader’s intention to consider Graham-Cassidy on the floor next week,” Don Stewart, a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Wednesday in an email.

Governors Ask Congress to Help Stabilize Health Care Market
Chief executives add voice to congressional debate

Governors are calling for multiyear funding for cost-sharing payments and for federal assistance to launch reinsurance programs as part of a bipartisan measure to stabilize the individual insurance market.

The conversation among governors and senators in a Sept. 7 hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee echoed what insurance commissioners told the same panel earlier in the week about how to bring stability to the individual insurance market before the fifth open enrollment period.