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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Walled Off?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Walled Off?'" by Lee Judge, The Kansas City Star.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


It was sneaky. But
It worked. Look how Michigan
improved vaccine rates.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

5. Negotiator-In-Chief Eyes Subsidies As Bargaining Chip To Get Democrats To The Table

The abrupt disappearance of the so-called insurer bailouts could trigger a collapse of the health law's marketplace. “Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” President Donald Trump said. "What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.”

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Threatens To Withhold Payments To Insurers To Press Democrats On Health Bill
Nearly three weeks after Republican infighting sank an overhaul of the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump dug back into the battle on Wednesday, threatening to withhold payments to insurers to force Democrats to the negotiating table. In an interview in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump said he was still considering what to do about the payments approved by his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama, which some Republicans contend are unconstitutional. Their abrupt disappearance could trigger an insurance meltdown that causes the collapse of the 2010 health law, forcing lawmakers to return to a bruising debate over its future. (Bender, Radnofsky and Nicholas, 4/12)

Bloomberg: Trump Threatens Health Subsidies To Poor To Force Talks 
Those payments to lower-income people, called cost-sharing-reduction subsidies, have been at the center of an almost three-year legal battle between Republicans and Democrats. The payments are used to help poorer people in Obamacare afford copays and other cost sharing for medical services. Without them, they might not be able to afford to get care. Trump’s administration has threatened to stop making the payments. (Pettypiece and Tracer, 4/12)

Politico: Trump Dangles Obamacare Payments To Force Dems To The Table
Democrats are adamant that they won’t negotiate on subsidies, which lower medical costs for nearly 7 million Obamacare customers. “Failing to make these payments would be a direct effort by the administration to further undermine the health care system in this country, putting care for millions of Americans at risk,” said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "President Trump has an obligation to drop his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and instead work with Democrats to strengthen it.” (Diamond and Dawsey, 4/12)

Meanwhile, industry groups warn of the dangers of getting rid of the subsidies —

Morning Consult: Health Groups Warn Of Higher Costs If ACA Subsidies Not Financed
A coalition of eight health groups is making a direct appeal to the Trump administration and congressional leaders to fund the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reductions for this year and next, calling it “the most critical action” that could be taken to stabilize health insurance exchanges. The future of the payments has been a source of uncertainty for insurers, who are preparing their policy proposals for the ACA exchanges in 2018. (McIntire, 4/12)

The Hill: Leading Healthcare Groups Urge Trump To Fund ObamaCare Payments 
Leading healthcare industry groups are urging Republicans to fund key ObamaCare payments that could lead to chaos if discontinued. Groups including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Association, and the American Hospital Association wrote letters to President Trump and congressional leaders saying the payments, known as cost-sharing reductions should continue. (Sullivan, 4/12)

6. 'We’re Going To Get To Yes': Freedom Caucus Member Sees Health Bill Passing In Matter Of Weeks

Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) points to the bruising lawmakers have been receiving from their home crowds during recess as impetus to get it done.

USA Today: Freedom Caucus Leader Brat Predicts Health Care Passage Within Weeks
Rep. Dave Brat, one of the conservative Freedom Caucus leaders whose resistance helped undermine the Republican health care proposal last month, says White House and congressional negotiators are close to a compromise that he predicts will pass the House in the next three weeks. “Within a few weeks, I think D.C. is going to be a little bit shocked,” he said in an interview with Capital Download. “We’re going to get to yes.” (Page, 4/12)

Des Moines Register: Rod Blum: Congress Will Act On Health Care This Year
Efforts to reform the health care law known as Obamacare are ongoing in Washington and will result in a plan to lower insurance premiums for Iowans, U.S. Rep. Rod Blum pledged on Wednesday. Blum, the Republican representing northeastern Iowa, was a “no” vote on the GOP proposal offered as a replacement to the Affordable Care Act and then abandoned last month when it became clear it would not pass. On Wednesday, he couched that opposition largely as a disagreement over process: the bill was advanced too quickly with insufficient debate, he said, and ultimately did too little to reduce premiums for people who get health care through their employer. (Noble, 4/12)

The Associated Press: Conservative Group's Health Ads Slam Top GOP Lawmakers
The conservative Club for Growth is targeting powerful committee chairmen and other top Republicans, part of an aggressive ad campaign to rally support for the GOP's struggling health care overhaul effort. The television and digital ads, unveiled earlier this week, pressure Republicans to a back a revised version of the GOP health care bill that Speaker Paul Ryan abruptly withdrew last month because it lacked the votes. (4/13)

CQ Roll Call: Conservative Group Takes Aim At GOP Lawmakers On Obamacare
The conservative Club for Growth is set to launch on Thursday a new series of digital ads targeting Republican lawmakers who it says do not support a revised plan to repeal and replace the 2010 health law backed by the White House and the House Freedom Caucus. The campaign — the second in a series funded by the anti-tax group — is aimed at 10 House GOP members, including Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon, Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, and Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pat Tiberi of Ohio. (Williams, 4/13)

Politico: Coffman Pummeled At Town Hall For Backing GOP Obamacare Replacement
During a roughly two-hour town hall here on the outskirts of Denver Wednesday night, nearly every other constituent brought up health care. But not a single one did it to thank Rep. Mike Coffman for backing the beleaguered House GOP Obamacare replacement. Instead, dozens of local inhabitants in this swingiest of swing districts — both Democrats and Republicans — pummeled the Colorado Republican for supporting legislation they believe would harm their community. (Bade, 4/13)

The Associated Press: Iowa Voters Credit GOP Lawmaker For Opposing Health Bill
Rebuffing President Donald Trump and Republican leaders on the GOP health care bill seemed like a major political misstep for Iowa Rep. David Young, who quickly was punished by a political action committee linked to Speaker Paul Ryan. Nearly three weeks later, voters in Young's southwestern Iowa district — Republicans and Democrats — say the GOP congressman made the right move. (4/13)

Politico Pro: Walden Faces A Testy Crowd At Eastern Oregon Town Hall
In his first town hall following the meltdown last month of the GOP’s health bill, Oregon Rep. Greg Walden kept his cool, but got a contentious reception Wednesday in The Dalles in Trump country’s eastern Oregon. Walden, who in his role as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee was instrumental in drafting the failed American Health Care Act, remains committed to trying to “fix” health care, an effort the GOP has made clear it's not abandoning and continues to discuss. (Colliver, 4/12)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/ MacArthur Defends Support Of GOP Health-Care Bill, Calls Critics 'Dishonest'
The lone New Jersey congressman to support the failed GOP health-care bill, Rep. Tom MacArthur, defended his efforts Wednesday, accusing activists and interest groups targeting him of dishonesty...MacArthur, who represents the Third District, covering parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties, referred to advertising launched this week by Save My Care. The group, which opposes repealing the Affordable Care Act, is spending $200,000 on television advertising targeting him, MacArthur’s office said. MacArthur called the ad’s characterization that he “isn’t fighting” to protect coverage for preexisting conditions “a blatant falsehood” and noted that he had also been targeted by the conservative Club for Growth. (Hanna, 4/12)