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4. Political Cartoon: 'Wake-Up Call?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Wake-Up Call?'" by J.C. Duffy.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

THE BEST MEDICINE

Knock, knock. Who's not there?
Me. End of life is painful.
Laughter often helps.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

5. Trump, GOP Lawmakers Pump The Brakes On Replacement Amid Political Backlash

The president walked back his promises to rapidly dismantle the health law, and Republicans on Capitol Hill are now using tamer rhetoric when they talk about "repair" instead of "replace."

The New York Times: From ‘Repeal’ To ‘Repair’: Campaign Talk On Health Law Meets Reality
Asked at a confirmation hearing two weeks ago if he was working with President Trump on a secret plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, Representative Tom Price, Mr. Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, smiled broadly and answered: “It’s true that he said that, yes.” The committee room, filled with health care lobbyists, consumer advocates and others with a vital stake in the future of the health care law, erupted with knowing laughter at Mr. Price’s careful formulation. (Shear and Pear, 2/6)

NPR: Trump, Some Republicans Say Obamacare Replacement Won't Happen Soon
There's a moment in the Broadway musical Hamilton where George Washington says to an exasperated Alexander Hamilton: "Winning is easy, young man. Governing's harder." When it comes to health care, it seems that President Trump is learning that same lesson. Trump and Republicans in Congress are struggling with how to keep their double-edged campaign promise — to repeal Obamacare without leaving millions of people without health insurance. (Kodjak, 2/6)

Modern Healthcare: Trump's Statement On Delaying ACA Replacement Portends GOP Political Perils
Some observers welcomed Trump's statement as his belated recognition of the reality of the cumbersome legislative process. They argued it gives congressional Republicans political permission to slow down and craft a more workable replacement plan -- even though House conservatives are demanding swift and total repeal with or without a replacement ready. But others said the president's words signal that the GOP repeal-and-replace train could be headed for a train wreck. (Meyer, 2/6)

Politico: Trump Administration Weighs Obamacare Changes Sought By Insurers
The Trump administration is considering major changes to Obamacare that may help convince insurers to remain in the law's marketplaces while Congress drafts a replacement plan — but the proposals may also limit enrollment and increase costs for older Americans, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. The administration is looking to alter rules around insurers charging older customers more, how much cost they can shift onto customers, and who's allowed to sign up outside the standard enrollment window. They represent changes that the industry had previously asked the Obama administration to make. (Diamond, Haberkorn and Demko, 2/6)

Marketplace: Hospitals See Slowdown In Health Care Reform As A Lobbying Win In Washington
In the clearest sign yet that Republicans are tapping on the brakes on health care, President Donald Trump over the weekend said that an Obamacare replacement plan is coming by the end of this year, maybe early 2018. That's very different from last month, when the president was talking about a plan coming as soon as his Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price was confirmed. Many hospitals see the GOP going from a sprint to a slow jog as a lobbying win for them in Washington. (Gorenstein, 2/6)

6. Anxiety Mounts Among Conservative Members Who Fear Momentum Is Fading On Repeal

Uneasy with the new, deliberative tone coming from both the president and other Republicans, some lawmakers are intensifying their efforts to make sure the House takes swift action on dismantling the health law.

The Wall Street Journal: Conservative Republicans Double Down On Push To Repeal Health Law
Conservative Republicans, worried about growing voices within the party advising or accepting a slower pace for repealing the Affordable Care Act, are redoubling their push to speed the GOP’s long-desired goal. President Donald Trump on Sunday became the latest top Republican to sound cautious notes about the party’s ability to rapidly repeal large swaths of the 2010 health law and enact its own vision. He told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly that “maybe it’ll take until sometime into next year,” saying repeal and replacement was “statutorily” difficult to accomplish quickly. (son and Radnofsky, 2/6)

The Hill: Republicans: ObamaCare Repeal Starts This Spring 
Two of the top Republicans in Congress on Monday said they are pushing ahead with the plan to begin repealing ObamaCare this spring, despite any confusion caused by President Trump saying the process could spill into next year. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters that he is working off of Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) timeline of moving repeal legislation by the end of March. (Sullivan, 2/6)

7. Effects From Repeal Would Ripple Through Entire Economy, Creating 'Noticeable' Slowdown

Most of the job cuts would result from two factors: the loss of federal spending for premium tax credits that help people pay for marketplace coverage, and the loss of spending for Medicaid services. In related news, Massachusetts officials say reviving the old system in their state if the health law is repealed is unrealistic; Minnesota's efforts to stabilize its marketplace may offer a peek into the future; the medical device industry is on tenterhooks over a tax on its products; and more.

McClatchy: Obamacare Repeal Would Kill Millions Of Jobs Nationwide 
It may not crash the economy, but repealing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act would certainly create job losses in every state. That’s the consensus of a growing body of studies that suggest the economic fallout from the health law’s partial demise would ripple through the entire economy, not just the health care sector. Josh Bivens, Director of Research at the Economic Policy Institute, estimates the proposed repeal would eliminate nearly 1.2 million jobs in 2019. (Pugh, 2/7)

WBUR: If Obamacare Is Repealed, Could Mass. Fall Back On State Law? It Wouldn't Be Easy — Or Necessarily Wise 
Some people mapping the options for Massachusetts under various "repeal and replace" scenarios are reluctant to talk about returning to Romneycare. They don’t want to create the impression within the state or in Washington, D.C., that Massachusetts might try to go it alone or might be just fine on its own. And in fact, Massachusetts would not be just fine. The state will bring in just over a billion dollars more in federal funding this year than it did before passage of the ACA, according to the Baker administration. (Bebinger, 2/7)

Kaiser Health News: Could Minnesota Health Reforms Foreshadow Repeal And Replace?
What’s going to happen to the federal health law? The quick answer is no one knows. But in the midst of the uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act, states still must govern their insurance markets. Most have been muddling through with the 2017 status quo, but Minnesota is a special case, taking three unusual actions that are worth a closer look. (Zdechlik, 2/7)

Denver Post: Boulder County Medical Device Makers Anxiously Await Obamacare Tax Repeal 
As the Trump administration looks to unravel the Affordable Care Act, Boulder County’s medical device industry is hopeful that a tax on its products, designed to help fund the law, will be repealed — and soon. A two-year moratorium designed to give them some relief from the measure is set to expire at the end of this year, but they say true balance won’t be restored until the tax is completely dead. (Castle, 2/6)

Kaiser Health News: If Obamacare Is Being Repealed, Do The Uninsured Still Face Penalties?
Michelle Andrews writes: "In some recent emails, readers asked about what to expect as Republicans move to overhaul the health law. Should people bother paying the penalty for not having health insurance when they file their taxes this year? Will they be able to sign up on the exchange for 2018 after their COBRA benefits end? Here are some answers." (Andrews, 2/7)

The Star Tribune: Gov. Dayton Seeks Quick Vote On MinnesotaCare 'Buy-In'
Minnesota would become one of the first states in the nation with a “public option” in the marketplace for individual health insurance under a plan pitched by Gov. Mark Dayton and endorsed Monday by two outstate DFL legislators. Private health insurance options are dwindling for rural Minnesotans, said Rep. Clark Johnson, DFL-North Mankato, so opening more space in the 25-year-old MinnesotaCare program makes sense. (Olson, 2/7)

8. Covered California Enrollment Slips In Tandem With Federal Trend Of Fewer Sign-Ups

But state officials said they met their projections of 400,000 new enrollees. Media outlets report on the health law and enrollment in Colorado, Ohio and Minnesota as well.

San Francisc
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