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Weekly Round Up 4-28-17

By Shalini Pammal
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DFA Weekly Round Up - April 28, 2017
 
TAKE ACTION
  • Call your Representative via the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and urge that they oppose the American Health Care Act, and any proposal that that strips healthcare from millions of Americans, guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions and ends Medicaid expansion.
  • Refer to this toolkit from our partners at the Center for American Progress Action Fund to make calls and send tweets to a targeted list of representatives who are currently undecided or have yet to publicly oppose the bill.
 
WEEK-AT-A-GLANCE
 
As the government works to avoid a federal shutdown, Republicans introduced a new amendment to their Obamacare replacement bill, breathing life into the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that was previously pulled from the House floor, and suggesting that another vote may be scheduled soon. An amendment drafted by New Jersey congressman Tom MacArthur keeps much of the AHCA in place, but allows states to eliminate major insurance regulations established by Obamacare— a provision that won endorsement from the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Along with waivers for the ban on insurers charging premiums based on consumer health, and the requirement that insurers' cover essential health benefits, the GOP amendment exempts members of Congress and their staffs to ensure that they will still be protected by such provisions.
 
Though the MacArthur amendment language has helped garner support from some conservatives, many moderate Republicans and leading healthcare and advocacy groups remain opposed to the bill, including the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The Kaiser Family Foundation also published poll findings that a majority of the public believes Trump and Republicans should work together to make the ACA work while its legislative future remains uncertain.
 
The White House also affirmed this past week that it will continue cost-sharing subsidies which are critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. However, it is unclear how long the White House plans to fund the cost-sharing reduction payments, leaving many insurers without the assurance necessary for their continued participation in the marketplace. Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer Anthem, among other insurers like Molina and Centene, had been pressing Congress to guarantee this crucial subsidy to help with out-of-pocket costs for low-income customers on the federal exchanges. Given the ongoing uncertainty, states are also making moves to bolster their own insurance markets, in an effort to curb big rate increases and pullbacks by insurers. Idaho, Oklahoma and Minnesota have all passed bills that allow insurers to unload some of the expense for costly consumers onto state program, using a version of reinsurance.
 
KEY ARTICLES
 
Health Affairs Blog: The MacArthur Amendment Language, Race in the Federal Exchange, and Risk Adjustment Coefficients
 
Reuters: Study says that government costs could rise $2.3 billion without Obamacare payments

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Amendment to House ACA repeal bill guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions
 
Vox: What the huge AHCA concession to the Freedom Caucus would actually do

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