Washington Update for the Week Ending April 7, 2017

hcbriefingAn update from NCPA’s Legislative Director Brian Williams:

NCPA hosted a successful Capitol Hill briefing last week to release research and educate lawmakers about the economic cost of not repealing Obamacare. The briefing featured IntegraNet CEO Larry Wedekind, NCPA Senior Fellow Devon Herrick, and Beacon Hill Institute President David Tuerck.  Our NCPA expert panel broke down the costs of not repealing Obamacare, what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) failed to consider in their economic estimates of Obamacare repeal, and other ways to minimize the damage done by Obamacare.  We also described the best health reform policies for Congress to consider moving forward.

At the beginning of the year, Congress and the Trump Administration formed a three-phase plan to repeal and replace Obamacare: (1) Repeal as many of the harmful provisions of Obamacare as possible through the budget reconciliation process; (2) Reverse destructive Obamacare regulations through administrative action; and (3) Pass pro-active legislation that promotes patient-centered health care. After last month’s failure in the House of Representatives to vote on the American Health Care Act, our briefing was both timely and informative as Congress works, however slowly, through the first phase of their plan.

As Congress works to repeal and replace Obamacare, the health insurance market continues to collapse. Health insurance giant Aetna is pulling out of the Iowa market. Wellmark is also leaving. Other states are facing similar circumstances.  On Capitol Hill, Congressional leaders are negotiating with Republican conservatives and moderates within their own conference, as well as the Trump Administration, to repair flaws in the American Health Care Act and win enough votes for the House of Representatives to pass the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.  One such effort, currently under negotiation, would lower health insurance premiums by creating state-based programs to help people with pre-existing conditions.  This would help alleviate several of the most onerous provisions of Obamacare, such as the “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” requirements.  Although Congress is on a two-week recess to celebrate Easter, the top negotiators are still hammering out details for the deal.

Meanwhile, to help reverse and repair the damage done by harmful Obamacare regulations, the Trump Administration is assembling a health care policy team, led by HHS Secretary Tom Price, to pursue the second phase of the plan: Adopt administrative actions that will help restore free-market principles to the health care market. We are proud that NCPA Senior Fellow John R. Graham was chosen to be part of the HHS team that will help lead this effort. “Although we are sorry to lose him from our team, we know his new colleagues—and the American people—will benefit greatly from his skills and drive to put patients before politicians in health reform,” said NCPA CEO Jim Amos.

Here are a few other things happening in Washington:

  • The economy only added 98,000 jobs in March, although the unemployment rate remained at 4.5%. Nevertheless, consumer confidence is way up, and jobless claims are way down. Overall, things seem to be going in the right direction. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say.
  • The President authorized the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles last night against Syrian forces in retaliation for the savage chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 civilians. Late last night, the President called on all civilized nations to help end the carnage in Syria.
  • The Senate confirmed the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to sit on the Supreme Court.  Senate Republicans voted to change Senate rules, restoring the confirmation process to the way it was 15 years ago before the Senate Democrats invented a so-called judicial filibuster. Instead of a super-majority to confirm Supreme Court justices, the Senate will return to following the Constitution.
  • This week, President Trump met with Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi, Jordanian King Abdullah, and is currently meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in what the President calls the “Southern White House” at the Trump Mar-a-Lago estate. The day before President Xi arrived for his meeting with President Trump, North Korea decided to rattle the sabre by test-firing ballistic missiles into the ocean.
  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes recused himself from the committee’s investigation into the Russian involvement in the recent presidential election, just as it was revealed that Obama-era National Security Adviser Susan Rice was responsible for “unmasking” Trump campaign aides caught up in foreign intelligence gathering. This is the same Susan Rice who told the world that the Benghazi attacks were the result of a YouTube video. Where there’s smoke, it seems there’s Susan Rice.



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