KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Trump Could Blow Up The ACA Marketplaces Tomorrow By Stopping Subsidy Payments

The president has threatened to end the payments to insurers before, and now with the failure of the GOP's proposed bill, the deadline hangs like a guillotine over companies' heads. “My advice to the plans this morning was, ‘If you get it, cash the check quickly,’” one health care lobbyist who represents insurers said Tuesday.

Politico: Trump Threatens To Gut Obamacare Markets
Donald Trump holds a fuse in his hands — and he could decide to light it and blow up Obamacare insurance markets as soon as Thursday. That’s the deadline for sending out the next monthly Affordable Care Act subsidies to health plans to defray the cost of care for individuals with low incomes. The president has toyed for months with the idea of stopping the payments to force Democrats to the negotiating table to avoid the prospect of millions of vulnerable Americans losing access to health coverage. (Demko and Dawsey, 7/18)

Bloomberg: Health Insurers’ Next Obamacare Scare Is Just Two Days Away 
The health insurance industry’s Obamacare drama reached a climax on Tuesday, but it isn’t over. With Senate Republicans’ failure to advance their bill to replace Obamacare, insurers are facing a summer of uncertainty. President Donald Trump’s administration won’t commit to making critical payments under Obamacare. Health plans have pulled out of some markets, and raised rates in others. And there’s always the chance that Republicans could revive their effort to repeal the law. (Tracer, 7/18)

Reuters: As Obamacare Repeal Falters, Insurers Start To Press On Subsidies
A failed Republican effort to replace Obamacare raised new concerns on Tuesday for U.S. health insurers over whether the government will continue to fund billions of dollars in medical benefit subsidies. The healthcare bill under consideration in the U.S. Senate would have settled the funding question, but was scrapped after Republican leaders were unable to rally enough party members to win approval. (Humer and Abutaleb, 7/18)

The Washington Post: Affordable Care Act Remains Intact, But Consumers And Insurers Are Left With New Worries
The implosion of the Senate Republicans’ health-care ambitions leaves the Affordable Care Act intact for the moment — but immediately creates worrisome unpredictability for the 10 million Americans who buy health plans through the law’s insurance marketplaces. These consumers could face a rocky few months at the least, as the insurers on which they rely decide how to respond to the political chaos. Some companies could become more skittish about staying in the marketplaces for 2018, while others could try to ratchet up their prices depending on how events in Washington unfold. (Goldstein and Winfield Cunningham, 7/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurers Brace For New Uncertainty After GOP Bill’s Collapse
For the health-care system, it’s back to square one. Insurers, hospitals and state officials are facing the prospect that the Affordable Care Act will remain the law of the land for now at least, but they also are left with huge questions about how key aspects of the law will be handled under the Trump administration as deadlines loom for insurers’ decisions about next year. (Wilde Mathews and Evans, 7/18)

The Associated Press: 'Repeal Now, Replace Later' Has Immediate Consumer Impact
Consumers would feel the impact immediately if Republicans repeal "Obamacare" with no replacement. Problems could start this fall for customers buying individual health policies, say independent experts, with more insurers likely to exit state markets around the country, and those remaining seeking higher rates. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/19)

Los Angeles Times: The U.S. Spends More On Healthcare Than Any Other Country — But Not With Better Health Outcomes
Despite repeated attempts by Senate Republicans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare debate in Washington appears to have collapsed — for now. The United States has much room for improvement when it comes to healthcare, experts said. “The U.S. spends more on healthcare, but we don’t have the same health outcomes [as other countries],” said Cynthia Cox, associate director at Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that researches national health issues. (Etehad and Kim, 7/18)

But it's not all doom and gloom for some insurers —

Bloomberg: UnitedHealth Puts Obamacare In Rearview As Business Expands
UnitedHealth Group Inc. is putting its Obamacare struggles behind it just as Republicans in the Senate are trying to do the same. The biggest U.S. health insurer reported second-quarter results Tuesday showing expanded membership as it moved away from the Affordable Care Act and added customers mainly in the government funded programs for the elderly and poor: Medicare and Medicaid. The company largely quit Obamacare going into this year, after racking up losses selling policies to individuals last year. (Tracer, 7/18)

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