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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

5. Political Cartoon: 'Killer Clown?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Killer Clown?'" by Dan Piraro.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


What’s under the tree?
Why it’s a bag of goodies
For the industry.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law Issues And Implementation

6. GOP's 'Repeal And Delay' Strategy Threatens To Send Already-Teetering Market Into Chaos

“Insurers need to know the rules of the road in order to develop plans and set premiums," says Sabrina Corlette, a professor at the Health Policy Institute of Georgetown University.

The New York Times: G.O.P. Plans Immediate Repeal Of Health Law, Then A Delay
Republicans in Congress plan to move almost immediately next month to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as President-elect Donald J. Trump promised. But they also are likely to delay the effective date so that they have several years to phase out President Obama’s signature achievement. This emerging “repeal and delay” strategy, which Speaker Paul D. Ryan discussed this week with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, underscores a growing recognition that replacing the health care law will be technically complicated and could be politically explosive. (Pear, Steinhauer and Kaplan, 12/3)

The Hill: Ryan: Obamacare Repeal Is First Priority Under Trump 
Repealing Obamacare will be the first priority of congressional Republicans when Donald Trump takes office in January, House Speaker Paul Ryan told CBS's "60 Minutes." "Well, the first bill we're going to be working on is our Obamacare legislation," he said in an interview airing Sunday night, though he declined to offer a timetable.  (Hellmann, 12/4)

Morning Consult: House Republicans Warn Not To Expect ACA Repeal On Day One
House Speaker Paul Ryan discussed a path to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act during a closed-door conference meeting with House Republicans on Friday. “The speaker walked members through the process for delivering on our promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said in a statement. “He told members this is one of the President-elect’s top priorities for Congress and one of the first things we will do in the House.” ... While a formal timeline hasn’t been laid out, Rep. Tom Cole guessed a bill repealing the law may be passed in February. (McIntire, 12/2)

The Hill: GOP Lawmaker Outlines Goal To Repeal And Replace ObamaCare 
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on Saturday highlighted the Republicans' mission to repeal and replace ObamaCare during the weekly GOP address. Barrasso underscored the importance of "revers[ing] the damage done by ObamaCare" through a smooth transition. ... Barrasso promised that the process of repealing and replacing the law would mean eliminating the health insurance mandate in order to ensure "more freedom and flexibility" for businesses and individuals. (Vladimirov, 12/3)

California Healthline: In House Majority Leader’s Calif. District, Many Depend On Health Law He Wants To Scrap
U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act first and replace it sometime later. That doesn’t sit well with Victoria Barton, who lives in McCarthy’s rural California district. “It’s like they dangled the carrot and now they’re taking it away,” said Barton, 38, of Bakersfield, an unpaid photographer and stay-at-home mother of two. (Bartolone and Bazar, 12/5)

In related health law news —

The Wall Street Journal: Crossing State Lines Is No Easy Jaunt For Insurers And Local Regulators
As Republicans gear up to overhaul the federal health law, they face pushback from a couple unexpected corners over one of their goals: Giving health insurers greater ability to sell policies to consumers across state lines. Republicans for some time have billed interstate sales of insurance as a way to heighten competition and lower costs. It is one of the few specific health initiatives displayed on President-elect Donald Trump’s transition website. (Armour and Wilde Mathews, 12/5)

Health News Florida: Hospital, Insurance Execs Ask Lawmakers To Tread Lightly On Health Care
Hospital and insurance executives Thursday reminded First Coast lawmakers that even the smallest changes to policy could affect millions of patients. Health insurers and providers don't always get along. For proof, last session’s balance billing debate pitted emergency room physicians against insurers in a fight for who picks up an out-of-network patient’s tab. But on Thursday, two major leaders, in different parts of the continuum of care, shared a common request that Tallahassee commit to increasing patient access to health care overall. (Benk, 12/2)

USA Today: Obamacare Was Profitable For Some Insurers Despite Public Comments
One of the most vocal insurers about the problems with the Affordable Care Act marketplace made nearly $400 million in one state already this year, documents show. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina lost about $400 million on ACA individual plans sold on in 2014 and 2015. After raising rates by about 32% for 2016, the company made nearly the same amount for the first three quarters of 2016 for all individual plans sold on and off the exchange, data filed with the state department of insurance show. (O'Donnell, 12/4)

7. Obama To Americans: Tell Republicans Not To Undo Health Care Progress

In a dual plea, President Barack Obama urged Americans to enroll to get coverage in 2017 and also asked them to tell Republicans to rethink their repeal strategy. "Don’t let Republicans in Congress take us back to the days when you could be denied insurance for having a pre-existing condition," he said, referencing one of the most popular aspects of the law.

The Associated Press: Obama: Health Care Act Is Law, US Can't Go Backward
President Barack Obama is urging the public to help save his health care law, which is in serious danger of being repealed under President-elect Donald Trump. In a Facebook Live appearance, Obama says the Affordable Care Act has improved millions of lives over the six years it's been the "law of the land." He says the country can't go "backward." (12/2)

The Washington Post: Obama Urges The Public To Tell Republicans Not To ‘Abandon’ The ACA
Obama spoke amid the fourth year’s enrollment period for consumers to buy health plans through ACA marketplaces, created for people who cannot get affordable coverage through a job. “If you haven’t gotten covered, now is the time to do it,” the president said, noting that Dec. 15 is the deadline for people to have insurance at the start of 2017. ... “Don’t let Republicans in Congress” take away the ACA’s most popular features, Obama said. “Tell them, ‘We want to build on the progress we’ve made, not abandon it.’ ” (Goldstein, 12/3)

The Wall Street Journal: Obama’s Pitch: Get Insured And Protect Health Law
“I know that lately there’s been yet another debate in Washington about health care reform, and it might make it sound like your insurance is somehow at risk, but here’s the bottom line: the most important thing for you to do is to get you and your family covered right away for 2017,” the president said. “Enrollment is open right now but only until Jan. 31. If you sign up by Dec. 15, you’ll be covered starting Jan. 1.” (Radnofsky, 12/2)