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From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Cold Comfort?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Cold Comfort?'" by Dave Coverly, Speed Bump.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


The health law’s support
Is now on the rise. Don’t it
Always seem to go

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Summaries Of The News:

Capitol Hill Watch

5. Dismissing Concerns Voiced At Town Hall Meetings, Conservatives Push GOP Lawmakers To Quickly Repeal The Health Law

But others point out the dangers of proceeding without clear cut methods to ensure the process doesn't harm people who gained coverage. Meanwhile, a key House committee is hoping to begin the mark up for repeal and replace legislation next month.

Roll Call: Conservatives Want Obamacare Repeal, And They Want It Now
Conservatives rallying here are calling for their congressional brethren to keep the faith and quickly gut the 2010 health care law, dismissing concerns about lost health coverage and motivated voters at town halls. Reported remarks by former Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, far away from the conservatives gathered at the convention hotel provided the latest cause for alarm. Boehner had said that repeal and replace was “not going to happen,” according to Politico. “The last I checked, Boehner doesn’t have a vote anymore,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told Roll Call. (Lesniewski and McPherson, 2/23)

Morning Consult: Experts Question GOP Approach To Pre-Existing Health Conditions
A key plank of the House GOP’s blueprint to replace the Affordable Care Act would fail to provide adequate health insurance to people with existing medical conditions without substantial state or federal funding, according to veteran health care officials and experts. ... But prior experience with [high-risk] pools, which were operated in 35 states before the ACA, shows they had inconsistent results and were rarely sufficient to cover everyone in need. Studies estimate the pools covered about 200,000 people nationwide by the time the ACA was passed. That’s a tiny fraction of the 52 million Americans with pre-existing conditions that could become uninsurable if Obamacare is repealed. (Reid, 2/23)

The Hill: House Markup Of ObamaCare Repeal Bill Up In The Air 
The timing of a House committee session to work on ObamaCare repeal and replace legislation is in flux as Republicans seek to flesh out the details. Though no date was ever formally scheduled, the House Energy and Commerce Committee had been eyeing March 1 for a markup of repeal and replace legislation. Lobbyists and aides now say a markup is not likely to happen until at least the week of March 6. Several lobbyists said Republicans on the committee sent some elements of a healthcare bill to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), but did not receive the cost estimates that they had expected.  (Sullivan, 2/23)

6. All The Outrage At Town Halls Over Repeal Not Backed By Cold-Hard Cash

Health groups and advocacy organizations that once supported the health law haven't returned with large financial efforts to save the legislation. So although supporters are making their voices heard at town halls, without money to back it up, they might be left fighting formidable foes without much punch.

Politico: The Left Rallies To Save Obamacare With Passion But Little Cash
Obamacare is blowing up congressional town hall meetings from California to Virginia. But high-rollers aren't stepping up to write checks to defend the law and possibly turn voter outrage over losing coverage into a sustainable movement. Though many Republicans charge the town hall sessions are stoked by moneyed interests and professional protesters, health care groups and foundations that have been crucial to the ACA cause have remained on the sidelines. Without cash, the smaller progressive organizations left could be hard-pressed to fight a long battle as conservatives spend heavily to pressure lawmakers to finish off the law and, possibly, revamp Medicaid. (Pradhan, 2/24)

The Washington Post: Republicans Distance Themselves From Trump’s Agenda At Rowdy Town Halls
When a voter here asked whether Sen. Charles E. Grassley supports a probe of President Trump’s tax returns, the Republican gave a qualified “yes.” In Virginia, asked about Russian interference in the presidential election, Rep. David Brat said an investigator should “follow the rule of law wherever it leads.” And in Arkansas, Sen. Tom Cotton told 1,400 people sardined into a high school auditorium that the Affordable Care Act “has helped Arkansans.” This week’s congressional town halls have repeatedly found Republicans hedging their support for the new president’s agenda — and in many cases contradicting their past statements. (Weigel, 2/23)

The Washington Post: Republican Lawmaker Who Won’t Hold A Town Hall Invokes Gabby Giffords Shooting. She Responds: ‘Have Some Courage.’
As Republican lawmakers across the country have faced raucous, chaotic town halls in recent days, a number have refused to have these events. ... Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), in a statement released this week, blamed his decision not to hold these events in person on “the threat of violence at town hall meetings.” He also pointed to a specific violent event to bolster his case, invoking the 2011 shooting that severely injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six others. ... “To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage,” Giffords said in a statement. “Face your constituents. Hold town halls.” (Berman, 2/23)

Roll Call: Giffords to GOP: ’Have Some Courage,’ Don’t Dodge Town Halls
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Thursday urged congressional Republicans to “have some courage” and hold town halls, after Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert referenced her shooting in his explanation for not holding one. In a letter to his constituents who had requested a town hall meeting with him, Gohmert referred to “groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety.” (McPherson, 2/23)

Denver Post: Buck: Affordable Care Act Replacement Will “Take A While To Formulate” 
Town hall meetings across the country that have showcased national strife over a repeal of the Affordable Care Act have also revealed something else this month: a lack of consensus among Republicans over the timing of replacing the law. In a meeting with constituents in Douglas County on Tuesday, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck said he believes that fully implementing a replacement could take years after the vote to repeal the law. His fellow Colorado U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, though, told constituents in a video message last week that he would not vote to repeal the law without “a concurrent replacement.” (Ingold, 2/23)

The Fiscal Times: Americans Sour On Trump And Congress As Replacing Obamacare Flounders 
Barely a month into the new Trump era, Americans are beginning to sour on President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress as the wheels begin to come off the GOP drive to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Voter displeasure with some GOP policies, particularly the effort to dismantle Obamacare instead of finding ways to improve it, have been welling up during town hall meetings held by Republican House and Senate members during a week-long congressional recess. And there are indications that the White House may renege on Trump’s repeated pledge to unveil a comprehensive new health insurance plan sometime in the next few weeks. (Pianin, 2/23)

7. Boehner: Repeal Won't Happen Because 'Republicans Never Ever Agree On Health Care'

The former House speaker says he should never have called it "repeal and replace" because most of the framework of the Affordable Care Act will probably remain.

The Associated Press: Former House Speaker Predicts 'Obamacare' Won't Be Repealed
Former House Speaker John Boehner predicted on Thursday that a full repeal and replacement of "Obamacare" is "not going to happen." The Ohio Republican, who was forced out by conservatives in 2015, said he started laughing when he heard President Donald Trump and Republicans promise swift action on undoing and replacing the health law. "Republicans never ever agree on health care," Boehner said. (2/23)

Politico: Boehner: Republicans Won't Repeal And Replace Obamacare
“They’ll fix Obamacare, and I shouldn’t have called it repeal and replace because that’s not what’s going to happen. They’re basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it,” Boehner said. The former speaker’s frank comments capture the conundrum that many Republicans find themselves in as they try to deliver on pledges to axe Obamacare but struggle to coalesce around an alternative. (Tahir, 2/23)


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