The latest iteration of the AHCA is supposedly being scheduled for a vote (for real, this time) sometime this week. The pressure is high on both sides, the whip counts are bouncing around, the tension is palpable, etc etc.
The first time around, the biggest tug-of-war was over Medicaid expansion. This time, the major issue seems to be Pre-Existing Condition coverage...and along with it, Guaranteed Issue and Essential Health Benefits; the three have to be pretty much joined at the hip, since removing one effectively makes the other two pointless in practice. It doesn't do most people much good to be told that yes, they'll be covered even if they have cancer if that coverage is gonna cost them $50,000/month.
Anyway, people are furiously scrambling to call their member of Congress and lighting up social media spreading the word...while Donald Trump, MIke Pence and Paul Ryan are running around DC desperately trying to squeak out 216 "Yes" votes from the Republican caucus.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about health care -- Tucker Carlson interviewed you about six weeks ago when you were in the middle of health care negotiations. And you agreed with him that the health care bill wasn't going to help your supporters. That those who lived in rural areas, the older, were going to get hurt by that bill. And you told him--
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me, the health care bill is going to help my supporters.
"F*ck anyone who didn't support me, though."
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, hold on. Let me just finish the question, if I may, sir--
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Otherwise, I'm not going to sign it. I'm not going to do it.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, this is why I wanted to ask you. You said to Tucker, "We will take care of our people, or I am not signing it." You said you were going to negotiate.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, that's what I just said.
JOHN DICKERSON: So tell me what in the bill you've been negotiating to get--
I noted a week or so ago that according to David Anderson of Balloon Juice, rumor has it that many insurance carriers are making their actuaries work overtime to put together multiple rate filings for 2018 based on several different outlooks:
Trump/Price/GOP quit screwing around, officially fund CSR reimbursements, enforce the mandate penalty and generally implement the ACA in good faith.
Trump/Price/GOP cut off CSR funding but otherwise enforce the law somewhat reasonably
Trump/Price/GOP cut off CSR, don't enforce the mandate, keep mucking around with half-assed repeal/replacement bills
*(Disclaimer: No, that's not a direct quote from Dr. Molina, but it's a pretty damned spot-on paraphrase).
A couple of weeks ago I noted that a buttload of heavy players in the healthcare field sent a joint letter to Trump, Tom Price and everyone else under the sun making it pretty clear how vital resolving the CSR issue is, and what the consequences would be if Congress and Trump don't make good on them.
Today, Molina Healthcare, which has around 1 million ACA exchange enrollees at the moment (roughly 9% of all effectuated enrollees) lowered the boom even harder (via Bob Herman of Axios):
Molina will exit exchanges if ACA payments aren't made
WH to Dems: We’ll continue paying ObamaCare subsidies
The Trump administration has told Democrats it will continue paying controversial ObamaCare insurer subsidies, lowering fears that a fight over the issue could cause a government shutdown.
The move marks something of a shift for President Trump, who had threatened earlier this month to withhold the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions, as a way to move Democrats to negotiate on a healthcare overhaul.
"A shift"? He shifts so often he should be in the next Fast & Furious movie.
Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), for one, said Wednesday that he doesn’t trust the president enough to take him at his word.
With the future of any other replacement plans uncertain, this month’s survey also gauges who the public views as responsible for the 2010 health care law going forward. A majority (61 percent) of the public say that because President Trump and Republicans in Congress are in control of the government, they are now responsible for any problems with the ACA moving forward. About three in ten Americans (31 percent) say that because President Obama and Democrats in Congress passed the law, they are responsible for any problems with it.
UPDATE 7/17/17: Dusting it off AGAIN because with the Senate GOP's #BCRAP replacement bill supposedly dead, Mitch McConnell is now claiming he's gonna go back to "Repeal/Delay", while Trump is once again threatening to simply "let Obamacare fail completely"...which CSR sabotage would definitely be a part of. Simply substitute the month of "AUGUST" for "MAY" in the entry below.
UPDATE 7/29/17: OK, BCRAP is dead but now Trump is really pissed off and is openly promising (not just threatening) to cut off CSR payments starting in August, which means the following scenario could kick in effective SEPTEMBER.
(sigh) Yes, this is the third time I've used the exact same clip from "Dead Again". That's no coincidence; Zombie Trumpcare keeps shuffling back every few weeks, but this time they appear to actually be serious about it (again).
A new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds that the average premium for a benchmark silver plan in Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces would need to increase by an estimated 19 percent for insurers to compensate for lost funding if they don’t receive federal payment for ACA cost-sharing subsidies.
Again, that's an average onf 19% on top of whatever the carriers would otherwise be increasing rates for other reasons.
As I posted yesterday, here's a rough overview of what total Individual Market Enrollment has looked like since 2010, and how Trump's threat to cut-off CSR reimbursements would impact it:
The blue section is off-exchange enrollees...around 7 million people today, all of whom are paying full price. This includes perhaps 1.8 million people still enrolled in Grandfathered or Transitional plans (which are part of a separate risk pool), although that number is highly speculative.
Well THAT figures: Insurance carriers finally breaking even on ACA exchanges just in time for GOP to tear up the law.
Health insurers may finally be seeing improved results on their Obamacare plans just as a newly elected president is poised to follow through on promises to end the controversial coverage program, a new report suggests.
An analysis out Thursday says that health insurers are expected in 2016 "to start reversing" financial losses on their Obamacare business after "hitting bottom" in 2015.
And 2017 "will likely see continued improvement" for those insurers selling individual health plans, "with more insurers getting close to breakeven or better," according to the report by Standard and Poor's Global Ratings.
UPDATE: ...or, perhaps not. Latest word is that there's basically little to see here; lots of big talk about pushing forward but very little action. Or perhaps there will be next week, who the heck knows? Wash, rinse, repeat.
...and then went on to conclude that, given the insane amount of uncertainty and confusion about what Donald Trump, Tom Price and the Congressional GOP in general has in mind for the 2018 insurance market, on top of normal stuff like inflation, an aging population and so on, that there are five likely scenarios:
Now, put yourself in the position of an insurance carrier executive and/or one of their actuaries. The level of uncertainty in the air is mind boggling. You have five choices for your initial filing: