KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Eager For A Victory, Trump Hypes Renewed GOP Health Plan; Lawmakers Remain Skeptical

The deal, which is being hashed out between Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), would let states seek waivers on preexisting conditions and to set their own list of essential health benefits. Republican congressional aides, however, are throwing cold water on the optimism coming out of the White House.

The New York Times: White House Officials, Craving Progress, Push Revised Health Bill
White House officials, desperate to demonstrate progress on President Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, are pushing to resurrect a Republican health care bill before his 100th day in office next week. Some members of the president’s team have grown consumed by that deadline, worrying that appraisals of the president’s tenure will be brutal and hoping that a last push on health care might bring a measure of salvation. (Flegenheimer and Abelson, 4/20)

The Associated Press: White House Pushes Uncertain Bid To Revive Health Care Bill
The White House optimism is driven largely by a deal brokered by leaders of the conservative Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group aimed at giving states more flexibility to pull out of "Obamacare" provisions. A senior White House official acknowledged that it was unclear how many votes Republicans had, but said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has told the White House that a vote could come together quickly. Yet GOP lawmakers and aides to party leaders, conservatives and moderates alike were skeptical that the House would vote next week on the health legislation. (Fram and Pace, 4/20)

The Washington Post: White House Turns Up Heat On Congress To Revise The Affordable Care Act
The fresh hopes for resuscitating the American Health Care Act are pegged to an amendment being offered by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) that aims to attract enough conservatives and moderates that the measure can pass in the House. White House officials said language would be circulated among members in the next few days, and the modifications will be discussed Saturday in a conference-wide call as Republicans prepare to return to Washington next week. The MacArthur amendment would allow states to obtain permission from the federal government to write their own list of essential health benefits and allow insurers to charge people with preexisting conditions higher premiums, as long as they also make a high-risk pool available to those patients — a change conservatives have demanded. As a concession to moderates, the amendment would also add back federal requirements for essential health benefits, which the measure’s current version instead leaves up to states. (Winfield Cunningham, Snell and Wagner, 4/20)

Los Angeles Times: Trump Is Trying To Repeal Obamacare Again, But He Still Doesn't Have The Votes
Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), a centrist who has been working on the new language, said in a Facebook post that sick patients would still be able to get coverage because states would be required to offer a special health plan, known as a high-risk pool, for people unable to get other coverage. “This amendment will make coverage of preexisting conditions sacrosanct for all Americans,” he said. But these high-risk pools were almost universally unsuccessful before the advent of Obamacare, and the new GOP proposals drew swift criticism from many patient advocates and others. (Levey, 4/20)

Politico Pro: Inside The Latest GOP Offer On Obamacare Repeal 
The GOP’s latest proposal is a concept called “invisible risk sharing,” which would effectively create a federal backstop for health insurers. The idea — modeled after a similar program in Maine — aims to keep everyone covered while lowering premiums and freeing states to eliminate key Obamacare insurance protections. “There’s no magic here,” said Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), who is pushing the idea as a way to bridge the divide between GOP conservatives and moderates. “Either policyholders have to pay the bills or taxpayers have to pay the bills.” (Demko and Cancryn, 4/20)

NPR: GOP Health Proposal Could Ditch Protections For People Who Are Sick
The plan "would make coverage unaffordable for many older consumers and would segregate high-cost consumers in coverage that would likely be inadequate," says Timothy Jost, a professor emeritus at Washington and Lee Law School who writes a health policy blog for Health Affairs. The proposal could also cause premiums to spike for people with medical issues, according to comments posted on Twitter by Topher Spiro, vice president for health policy at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. (Kodjak, 4/20)

The Hill: Trump On ObamaCare Repeal And Preventing Shutdown: 'I Want To Get Both' 
[A] number of GOP aides have suggested it might not be enough to get the bill through the House because of continued opposition from centrists. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.), a moderate lawmaker, said on MSNBC Thursday that he is still opposed to the bill despite the latest changes. “It doesn’t actually address the concerns I have for the people I represent, the people of New York City,” Donovan said. “But I suspect it might get some folks on board that maybe weren’t before. But the hope is that they don’t lose other people.” (Fabian and Easley, 4/20)

The Hill: ObamaCare Replacement Deal Hits Major Speed Bumps 
“The question is whether it can get 216 votes in the House, and the answer isn't clear at this time,” said a senior GOP aide, referring to the number of votes likely necessary to pass the legislation. “There is no legislative text and therefore no agreement to do a whip count on.” “I don’t know that the state of play has really changed over the recess,” said another House GOP aide. (Sullivan and Hellmann, 4/20)

CQ HealthBeat: Republicans Have No Deal On Obamacare Repeal But Talks Continue
"Republicans’ latest plan is to expose Americans with pre-existing conditions to staggering new health costs," House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. "Now, by gutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Republicans will make it all but impossible for millions of Americans fighting illness to afford the health coverage they desperately need." (Williams, 4/20)

Politico: White House Pressures GOP Leaders On Obamacare Showdown Next Week
The White House does not schedule House floor votes. And while some senior administration officials suggested Thursday that a vote will occur next week, multiple House GOP sources told POLITICO that is unlikely. Indeed, the vote is not currently on the calendar. Nor do Republican insiders think it’s even possible, as Congress will reconvene Tuesday after a two-week Easter recess. That would leave them with one day to whip votes — an unlikely time frame for such a heavy legislative lift. (Bade, Dawsey and Cancryn, 4/20)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump, GOP Race To Avoid Government Shutdown As They Juggle Health-Care Revamp
The White House has thrust a new set of proposals into talks to avoid shutdown of the government next week, while also seeking to revive a health-care overhaul that had collapsed last month. With less than a week to pass legislation funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year, negotiations are beginning to take shape. Democrats are demanding that the legislation include money for insurance companies, without which fragile insurance markets could implode, while the White House in return wants additional money for defense, the border wall and border enforcement. (Radnofsky, Hughes and Peterson, 4/20)

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland Democrats Resist Latest Obamacare Repeal Effort 
Four Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation told voters gathered at a town hall meeting in Baltimore on Thursday that they will continue to push back on Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare, including a new plan expected in coming days. "I don't know that we're going to be able to avoid to fight this every single month," said Rep. John Sarbanes of Baltimore County, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "I pledge to you [that] we're going to fight as hard as we can." (Fritze, 4/20)

Politico Pro: Texas Lawmakers Weigh Reopening High-Risk Pool
Republican state lawmakers, closely tracking Obamacare repeal efforts in Washington, may look to reopen the state's shuttered high-risk pool to insure Texans who can’t get coverage elsewhere. Bills in the Texas House and Senate would allow the state insurance commissioner to set up a temporary high-risk pool if federal funds become available. (Rayasam, 4/20)

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