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5. Political Cartoon: 'Pay Respects?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Pay Respects?'" by Chris Browne.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


They’re byzantine rules …
Really tough to understand.
Watching this will help.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

6. ACA Enrollment Slips Slightly As Confusion Swirls Around Future Of Health Law

This year, 9.2 million people signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, a 4 percent decrease from last year.

The New York Times: Affordable Care Act Sign-Ups Dip Amid Uncertainty And Trump Attacks
The number of people who signed up for health insurance in the federal marketplace that serves most states dipped this year to 9.2 million, the Trump administration said Friday, as consumers struggled with confusion over the future of the Affordable Care Act. That represents a decline of more than 4 percent from the total of 9.63 million people who signed up through at this time last year. (Pear, 2/3)

The Associated Press: 'Obamacare' Sign-Ups Show Slippage In Trump Era
The report doesn't include figures from 11 states that run their own health insurance markets — including California and New York — so the final national number will be higher. But the preliminary report is being closely watched, because President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress have vowed to repeal the Obama-era health law and replace it with a plan yet to emerge. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 2/3)

The Hill: Trump Administration Announces 9.2 Million ObamaCare Sign-Ups
Officials framed the numbers by highlighting negative points about ObamaCare, an obvious contrast with the Obama administration. “Obamacare has failed the American people, with one broken promise after another,” Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Matt Lloyd said in a statement accompanying the numbers. (Sullivan, 2/3)

The Wall Street Journal: About 9.2 Million Americans Sign Up For Health Plans On Federal Exchange
The figures are likely to further fuel the fight over the effectiveness of the health law known as Obamacare—with opponents pointing to the declining year-over-year enrollment as a sign of the law’s failure, and supporters saying the law succeeded at expanding coverage to broad swaths of the population, with an estimated 22 million people gaining coverage through the exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid. (Hackman, 2/3)

Los Angeles Times: Final Obamacare Enrollment Figures Lag Under Trump
[T]he dramatic drop-off in the last two weeks fed rising criticism that the Trump administration is sabotaging the marketplaces to strengthen its political argument that the law must be scrapped. “There is no doubt that enrollment would have been even higher if not for the uncertainty caused by political attacks on the law, and the Trump administration’s decision not to provide consumers with all of the resources and support available to help them enroll,” said Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America, which helps consumers sign up for coverage. (Levey, 2/3)

Politico: Obamacare Sign-Ups Fall Short After Slow Finish
Opponents of the law said the latest figures are further evidence that the health care law is falling apart. “Enrollment numbers are down and costs are up. These cost hikes are exactly the reason why Republicans are committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Friday. (Pradhan, 2/3)

CQ Roll Call: Fewer People Sign Up For Obamacare On HealthCare.Gov
Earlier in 2017, the Obama administration had highlighted strong and increasing demand for plans on By Jan. 14, about 8.8 million Americans had signed up for 2017 insurance coverage using the site, about 100,000 more than at a similar time in 2016. (Mershon, 2/3)

On state enrollment figures —

The Baltimore Sun: Obamacare Enrollment Up In Maryland Counties That Supported Trump
As President Donald J. Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, data in Maryland shows that many of the counties that voted for Trump saw the largest reductions in the ranks of the uninsured under the law. The biggest drop since enrollment began in 2013 — 11 percent — came in the rural Eastern Shore county of Somerset, according to data provided by the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which operates the online marketplace where people can enroll in private insurance and Medicaid. (Cohn, 2/4)

Georgia Health News: Exchange Sign-Ups Down From 2016 As White House Ends ACA Backing 
Nationally, open enrollment for 2017 coverage ended with more than 9.2 million plan selections in the 39 states that use the enrollment platform, from November through Jan. 31, federal health officials announced Friday. That figure is down from 9.6 million during the same period a year ago. Proponents of the ACA pointed out that official outreach for exchange enrollment was sharply cut back after the inauguration of President Trump two weeks ago. Trump and his fellow Republicans who control Congress are opponents of the ACA, often known as Obamacare, and they are working to repeal it. (Miller, 2/3)

7. Citing Complicated Nature Of Replacement, Trump Walks Back Promised Deadline

After vowing to move quickly on replacing the health law, the president now says there should be a plan ready by the end of this year or in 2018.

Politico: Trump: Obamacare Replacement Might Take A Year
President Donald Trump walked back his recent vow that Obamacare would be replaced in short order, telling Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that the process is “complicated” and “maybe it’ll take till sometime into next year.” "It statutorily takes a while to get," Trump said in a wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday during the Super Bowl pre-game show. "We’re going to be putting it in fairly soon, I think that yes I would like to say by the end of the year at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year." (Palmeri, 2/5)

Bloomberg: Trump Says Obamacare Replacement Could Take Until Next Year 
Trump said in January that he’d put forward his plans for replacing the law, also called Obamacare, once Tom Price, his pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services, is confirmed. “We’re going to be submitting, as soon as our secretary is approved, almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter, a plan,” Trump said at a Jan. 11 press conference. “It’ll be repeal and replace. It will be essentially simultaneously.” (Tracer, 2/5)