Trump backs Oba­macare over­haul

GOP plan would let states cre­ate their own health plans

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page -

USA TO­DAY WASH­ING­TON Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threw his sup­port Wed­nes­day be­hind a last-ditch ef­fort by two Repub­li­can se­na­tors to re­place parts of the Af­ford­able Care Act.

In a state­ment, Trump ap­plauded Sens. Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina and Bill Cas­sidy of Louisiana for work­ing “toward a so­lu­tion to re­lieve the dis­as­trous Oba­macare bur­den on the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

Gra­ham and Cas­sidy, along with Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Ron John­son, R-Wis., are propos­ing leg­is­la­tion that would keep some of the Af­ford­able Care Act’s reg­u­la­tions and taxes in place while pro­vid­ing states with block grants and au­thor­ity to de­sign their own health in­sur­ance sys­tems.

The se­na­tors say that if states want to keep cur­rent pro­grams, they can, and if they want to re­peal and cre­ate a new sys­tem, they can do that.

Trump’s en­dorse­ment could give mo­men­tum to the Gra­ham/Cas­sidy leg­is­la­tion and com­pli­cate a sep­a­rate bi­par­ti­san ef­fort un­der way to pro­vide a short-term fix to sta­bi­lize the in­di­vid­ual health in­sur­ance mar­ket.

The bi­par­ti­san push is led by Sen. La­mar Alexan­der, a Ten­nessee Repub­li­can who chairs the Se­nate Health Ed­u­ca­tion La­bor and Pen­sions Com­mit­tee, and the panel’s top Demo­crat, Mur­ray of Patty Wash­ing­ton.

The com­mit­tee is sched­uled Thurs­day to hold the last of four hear­ings that have fo­cused on ways to help bring down rates for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who buy their in­sur­ance on one of the mar­ket­places cre­ated un­der Oba­macare.

Alexan­der has said he hopes to have leg­is­la­tion ready by early next week.

The bill is ex­pected to ex­tend for at least an­other year the fed­eral cost-share that en­ables in­sur­ers to pro­vide af­ford­able cov­er­age for low- and mod­er­ate-in­come fam­i­lies.

It also is likely to fo­cus on im­prov­ing Oba­macare’s waiver process so that states will have more flex­i­bil­ity to de­sign and reg­u­late in­sur­ance plans.

Con­ser­va­tives say the Gra­ham/Cas­sidy leg­is­la­tion, un­veiled Wed­nes­day, doesn’t go far enough. “It would not ac­tu­ally de­liver on the Repub­li­cans’ seven-year cam­paign prom­ise to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare,” said Michael A. Need­ham, CEO of Her­itage Ac­tion for Amer­ica.

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