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Sabotaging the ACA
Quote:The Trump administration is quietly dismantling the Affordable Care Act, taking a series of regulatory steps that will make it easier for insurance companies to sell plans that exclude patients with preexisting conditions or don’t cover basic services like maternity care, mental health treatment, and prescription drugs. Republicans weren’t able to repeal Obamacare in Congress. Now the Trump administration appears to be settling for the second-best thing: weakening Obamacare’s insurance regulations, changes that will hurt Americans who are older and sicker while benefiting the young and the healthy. The Health and Human Services Department published new rules Tuesday that widen access to “short-term” health plans, a small subset of insurance products that are meant to cover short gaps in insurance coverage. The Obama administration aggressively regulated these plans, allowing insurance companies to sell them only as 90-day options.

Already in recent weeks, the Trump administration has shown little interest in enforcing Obamacare’s guarantee that healthy and sick people get access to the same type of health insurance. For example, it hasn’t intervened in Idaho, where regulators recently told insurers they can simply disregard many of the Affordable Care Act rules and sell new “freedom plans” that discriminate against sicker enrollees. Typically, you’d expect the federal government to get involved — to step in and enforce federal law when a state refuses. But when pressed by a reporter on this issue Tuesday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar demurred. “I’m not in a position to rule on something I’ve seen a media report about,” he said, adding that he doesn’t “believe in premature opinions on complex topics.”
Trump’s quiet campaign to bring back preexisting conditions - Vox

Freedom plans, how sick is that..
Quote:With the deadline to pass an omnibus budget bill to fund the federal government just a few weeks away, Congress is considering a rescue package for Obamacare’s troubled individual market, including funding for stabilization measures aimed at bringing down rising insurance premiums.
Lawmakers pushing the effort—begun back in the summer and fall of 2017—are hoping to counteract the damage to the individual market caused by a string of Trump administration moves, from terminating cost-sharing reduction payments for  insurance companies to defunding open enrollment outreach to encouraging the proliferation of cheap, skimpy, off-market health plans.
Congress Weighs Rescue Package For O’Care As Trump Admin Hacks Away At Market – Talking Points Memo

Quote:Congress will get one last shot later this month to pass a modest plan to help fix the Obamacare marketplaces — that is, unless the Trump administration torpedoes what has been until now a very uneasy truce. After months of discussions, a pair of plans — one negotiated by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the other from Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) — would inject billions of dollars of federal money into the insurance markets, while also giving Republicans a win by providing some more administrative flexibility for states to pursue their own health care programs.

But then on Tuesday, Politico and the Wall Street Journal reported that the White House is making some deeply conservative demands if Trump is going to support a stabilization plan. They want to place abortion restrictions on federal tax credits, they want to allow insurers to charge older people even higher premiums, and they want to expand short-term insurance plans that don’t have to comply with Obamacare’s rules.
Trump might have blown up the last best hope to stabilize Obamacare - Vox

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