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House Republicans Renew Plans to Repeal Obamacare After Failed First Attempt

Just four days after House Speaker Paul Ryan declared Obamacare the “law of the land,” House Republicans say they’re moving forward with their plan to repeal and replace the health care law despite the divisions in their party on how to reform the health insurance market.

Ryan and members of his leadership team reaffirmed their support for unwinding the Affordable Care Act during a weekly press conference with reporters Tuesday, saying that their first failed attempt to replace Obamacare wouldn’t deter them from moving forward.

“We’re not going to retrench into our corners or put up dividing lines,” Ryan said after a meeting with Republican lawmakers. “There’s too much at stake to get bogged down in all of that.”

The renewed focus on repealing Obamacare came after Ryan decided to withdraw the House GOP’s health care bill Friday, a decision made after it became clear there wouldn’t be enough votes to pass it.

Republicans released their plan to repeal the health care law and implement parts of a replacement at the beginning of the month.

But the bill lacked a natural constituency.

Instead, both centrist Republicans and conservatives decried the plan—conservatives disliked it because they felt it wouldn’t lower the cost of premiums, and centrist Republicans felt it didn’t do enough to protect those newly enrolled in Medicaid.

After pulling the bill, Ryan told reporters “Obamacare is the law of the land” and stressed that Republicans would instead move on to other items on their agenda, like tax reform.

But by Tuesday morning, Republicans appeared to have regrouped, and Ryan stressed the GOP conference would continue to work toward gaining consensus on a replacement plan even as they tackle other legislative priorities.

“We’re going to get this right,” Ryan said, “and in the meantime, we’re going to do all the other work we came here to do.”

Any path forward on Obamacare’s replacement is going to require agreement between conservatives and centrist Republicans, factions of the party that opposed the House GOP’s health care bill for different reasons.

But the two groups appear willing to further engage in talks over health care reform.

According to The New York Times, the House Freedom Caucus and centrist Tuesday Group are engaging in talks with Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump’s top strategist.

And even Ryan, who said Friday some Republicans in the House couldn’t get to “yes” on the bill, told reporters Tuesday that Republicans would “sit down and talk things out” until they compromise.

“We saw good overtures from those members from different parts of our conference to get there because we all share these goals, and we’re just going to have to figure out how to get it done,” the speaker said.

Ryan wouldn’t elaborate on any details of a new plan or on a timeline. But some conservatives are already plotting their own path.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., filed a bill Friday that fully repeals Obamacare. Brooks, along with some conservatives, also may use a legislative tool that would force a floor vote on a bill dismantling the health care law.

The plan requires Brooks to collect 216 signatures on a discharge petition. Once that happens, and after the legislation has remained in committee for 30 days, the lower chamber would be forced to vote on the bill.

“We will find out who is truly for repeal of Obamacare and who is not,” Brooks told reporters. (For more from the author of “House Republicans Renew Plans to Repeal Obamacare After Failed First Attempt” please click HERE)

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Trump Accuses Freedom Caucus of Saving Planned Parenthood and Obamacare

The fallout over the failure of the House GOP to pass the Obamacare replacement bill last week continued Sunday. In an early morning tweet, President Trump accused the House Freedom Caucus and other conservative groups of saving Planned Parenthood and Obamacare by refusing to back the GOP effort.

And to think, on Friday, Trump called the Freedom Caucus “friends.”

Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint responded to the President’s tweet, saying the American Health Care Act would not have repealed Obamacare and lowered premiums. He did agree with Trump that a “better bill” is within reach and offered up Heritage’s own plan.

President Says “Do Not Worry!”

The AHCA was pulled from the House floor Friday in what the media is touting as a humiliating political defeat for the president. Trump isn’t acting too humiliated. In a Saturday tweet he assured the American people, “Do not worry!” He promised “we will all get together and piece together a great health plan for THE PEOPLE.” And he again declared Obamacare is collapsing of its own accord.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus agreed, telling Fox News Sunday “Obamacare is imploding, it’s exploding.” He also suggested that “at the end of the day it’s time for the (Republican) party to start governing.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted as much Friday after pulling the bill. He blamed the failure to get the bill passed on the “growing pains of government.” “We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do,” Ryan said. “You just had to be against it. Now, in three months’ time, we tried to go to a governing party where we actually had to get 216 people to agree with each other on how we do things.”

Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday it’s “back to the drawing board.” However, Priebus warns holdout Republicans no perfect bill exists. “We can’t be chasing the perfect all the time,” he said, “Sometimes you have to take the good and take the win.”

Meanwhile, the progressive dream of a single-payer health care system is alive and well. Sen. Bernie Sanders told a town hall Saturday he plans on introducing a “Medicare for all” bill in the next couple weeks. (For more from the author of “Trump Accuses Freedom Caucus of Saving Planned Parenthood and Obamacare” please click HERE)

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ON LIFE SUPPORT: GOP Postpones Health Care Vote as House Conservatives Revolt

Republican leaders canceled a vote in the House on the plan to replace ObamaCare Thursday, after leadership’s attempts to lobby enough votes apparently failed — a major setback for House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump.

Trump and Republican leaders had spent much of the day scrambling to get both moderates and conservatives on board with the increasingly unpopular legislation.

“We have not gotten enough of our members to get to yes at this point under what we have now,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters.

Ryan postponed his press conference twice as he worked with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy R-Calif., Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., to get enough votes to get the American Healthcare Act through the House on the seventh anniversary of ObamaCare’s passage.

Meanwhile, Trump met inside the Cabinet room with the Freedom caucus to try and rally conservatives to the cause. He also tweeted, urging supporters to call their representatives to back the bill. (Read more from “ON LIFE SUPPORT: GOP Postpones Health Care Vote as House Conservatives Revolt” HERE)

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Why the GOP Can’t Seem to Banish Obamacare

President Trump made some experts snicker when he explained the delay in unrolling the Republican replacement for Obamacare: “Who knew health care was so complicated?” Pundits who had spent years sweating the details of the many facets of health insurance policy came back at Trump with versions of “Er, hello? We’ve been saying that for years. Now if you’ll turn to page 723 of my proposal….” Indeed the policy details are enormously complex, and I won’t presume to wade in as an amateur to the debate over whether the current Republican proposal is the smartest or most politically viable plan for setting free one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

One thing conservatives have been right about all along: Obama’s plan was so complicated and unsustainable, it was tempting to believe that it was constructed that way on purpose. By building a Rube Goldberg machine that first entangled millions of Americans, before collapsing under its own weight (well after he’d left office), Obama would create the conditions where Americans would demand that the federal government “solve” the new healthcare crisis by creating a single-payer, British-style system of socialized medicine. In effect, the whole country would just slide onto Medicare.

Hard-working conservative policy wonks have been toiling for years to propose politically and fiscally workable alternatives to Obamacare. Most of these experts are sharply critical of the new plan Trump is backing, which seems to be a kind of Obamacare Lite, with tax incentives that slightly favor the better off, and a different kind of penalty for those who don’t buy insurance. I lack the expertise to wade into the details and try to clarify them, but the principles underlying them are clear. There’s a fundamental moral problem at the heart of the healthcare debate, which various plans — Obamacare as well as its conservative alternatives — have flailed around trying to solve.

It’s the problem that economists call the “free-rider.” I can explain it best with a personal anecdote. Last week one of my deranged rescue beagles yanked the leash so hard that it messed up my right wrist. (I’m a righty.) The pain was blinding, throbbing, debilitating. I couldn’t write my column. It hurt to use the mouse for any reason. In a perfect world, I would have gone to a hospital emergency room to get immediate care — since making the arrangements to get into an orthopedist would have taken days, during which I couldn’t work (or even brush my teeth very effectively).

Emergency Wards Full of Illegal Immigrants

Of course, since I live in the real world and my sister is a nurse, I knew better than to go anywhere near an emergency room — which are chock-full of people without any health insurance, many of them without the legal right to reside in this country, lining up to get routine care which they won’t ever have to pay for. Who would have to pay for them? I would. When insured, paying customers do turn up at the emergency room, they must be soaked to cover the costs, or else hospitals will close. The sheer number of free riders force the “fare” paid by regular customers to crippling heights — and that is why after a childbirth or short hospital stay, you will see on your bill itemized charges like $20 Q-tips.

I didn’t want to come home with a bill that socked me for the whole cost of my annual deductible for a single injury, so instead of going to the doctor, I found a massage therapist and relied on Advil and ice baths. Thankfully, I got better. But it struck me as a rather ironic that because I have a job and insurance, I have effectively less access to emergency care than illegal immigrants willing to wait several hours to get routine care from an emergency room — which typically won’t turn anyone away, even if there is little evidence of any genuine emergency. The New England Health Care Institute (PDF) warned back in 2010:

The overuse of U.S. emergency departments (EDs) is responsible for $38 billion in wasteful spending each year.

ED overuse is on the rise across all patient populations, irrespective of age or insurance coverage.

Drivers of ED overuse include lack of access to timely primary care services, referral to the ED by primary care physicians themselves, and financial and legal obligations by hospitals to treat all patients who arrive in the ED.

Turning Doctors and Nurses into Indentured Servants

The numbers are surely worse today. The combination of federal laws and liability risk makes it very difficult for staff at emergency wards to simply say “No” to someone who turns up with an ear infection or flu symptoms, and wants to be taken care of — though they are quite unable to pay, and don’t qualify for Medicaid (since they’re illegals).

Congressman Ron Paul, MD, had the right answer to resolving this free rider problem. He shocked people in the 2012 presidential campaign when he said that the government should remove any legal or regulatory requirement that doctors or hospitals treat people who won’t be able to pay them, apart from obvious, life-threatening emergencies.

Rep. Paul was right. Food is just as crucial to life as health care, but we don’t let hungry people turn up at restaurants and ditch the tab. There is no moral case for drafting health care professionals into indentured servitude for those unable to pay. The fact that emergency wards are available for this purpose surely discourages a certain percentage of people who could afford health insurance from spending the money to get it. And of course, we should not be providing free medical care — except for life-threatening emergencies — to illegal residents at all.

Americans Who Game the System

So that’s one kind of free rider. But here’s another, home grown specimen. Someone I knew, a working attorney, churchgoer and political conservative, told me that he really resented the Obamacare mandate that he sign up for health insurance. He was healthy, young, and physically active. He didn’t like being pressed into the insurance pool to effectively subsidize older, sedentary people who needed care. So far so good, I guess.

But then I asked him why he didn’t sign up for some form of catastrophic insurance. What if he got in a car accident, or was struck down with some rare cancer? He didn’t have savings or assets that could begin to cover the real costs of health care he’d need. How would he deal with the bills that would come from hospitals and surgeons?

At that he shrugged and smiled. “Oh, that’s what bankruptcy laws are for.” He explained that a number of his clients were uninsured adults who had faced enormous medical debts. He got bankruptcy judgments that let them pay pennies on the dollar. Apparently he took these cases not as cautionary tales but as inspiration.

Leave aside Obamacare’s absurd restrictions (which must be repealed) that virtually killed off catastrophic insurance plans, like the kind I used to have. How many young, healthy Americans who normally would shell out a few hundred dollars a month for catastrophic insurance don’t do so, because they are counting on Chapter 11 as their “insurer” of last resort? Morally, such people are no better than illegal immigrants who expect free medical care at emergency wards. In fact, as well-educated Americans with better options, they’re actually worse. Obamacare’s individual mandate was a ham-handed, probably un-Constitutional attempt to address this very real issue. It’s young, healthy people like my friend who make an insurance pool viable. If they don’t fear that medical debt could ever do them serious harm, many will not buy insurance. So the system will totter and fail.

No reform of health care in America will really address the fundamental problem of “free riders” jacking up costs for the rest of us unless it removes the legal obligation of medical professionals to work unpaid in non-emergency cases — and reforms bankruptcy laws that allow those who are willfully uninsured to essentially cheat the doctors and nurses who cared for them.

And now I leave it to the wonks to sweat the details. (For more from the author of “Why the GOP Can’t Seem to Banish Obamacare” please click HERE)

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Trump Meets With Obamacare ‘Victims’

On Monday, President Donald Trump met with Americans described by the White House as “victims” of Obamacare to hear their stories.

In what the administration called a “listening session,” Trump referred to the Affordable Care Act as the “very, very failed and failing Obamacare law” as he heard from citizens in the Roosevelt Room who have had negative experiences with the health care law, according to the White House press pool.

“We paid $8,000 for five months and were never able to use it,” Georgia woman Brittany Ivey told Trump.

Ivey, who said she left her full-time job in 2009 to focus on her children, claimed she had a family plan for four that went up by 102 percent. After she lost insurance that had been provided by her husband’s employer, Ivey said she looked for a new job with health care benefits but was unable to find employment that would have provided insurance.

According to Ivey, the family had to purchase Obamacare coverage, which resulted in the loss of their preferred doctors.

Louis Brown, a Virginia resident and a former Democratic National Committee staffer, said, “[People should be] at the center of our American health care system, not the government.”

Brown said that he worked for the DNC during the early stages of Obamacare, but added he quit the job due to his pro-life stance. He said he supported Trump in the presidential election.

Carrie Couey, a cattle rancher from Colorado, said that the health care costs associated with Obamacare affected her family so much that it put her food source at risk.

“We can’t afford our [ranching] equipment if we’re paying these rates year, after year, after year. Our food source is in jeopardy because of this health care law,” Couey said.

Elias Seife, a second-generation immigrant from Cuba living in Florida, said he had his individual plan canceled.

Seife mentioned his parents, who came to America from a communist society, as living testaments against Obamacare, saying, “They know what socialism is all about. I know what socialism is … and this whole system was meant to have one single provider.”

Robin Armstrong, a doctor from Texas, said many of his patients are not sufficiently insured under Obamacare, as they are affected by expensive premiums and deductibles.

Armstrong said he likes the new American Health Care Act, the Obamacare replacement proposed by House Republicans, saying, “I actually read the bill that’s been produced, that’s coming out of the House now and I really like a lot of the changes in it. I think this is going to correct a lot of issues that Obamacare has had.”

The president voiced his opposition to the media’s coverage of Obamacare, claiming that the press is attempting to cover up the health care law’s downfalls to make it “look so good.”

“First of all, it covers very few people and it’s imploding. And [2017] will be the worst year,” Trump said.

Trump attributed Obamacare’s favorable media coverage to nostalgia, claiming the law is similar to President Barack Obama in appearing better now than it actually is.

“It’s a little bit like President Obama. When he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn’t like him so much. That’s the way life goes. That’s human nature,” he said.

Trump concluded his remarks by calling Obamacare a “horrible thing.” (For more from the author of “Trump Meets With Obamacare ‘Victims'” please click HERE)

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Obamacare Replacement Bill Would Reduce Number Insured as Well as Deficits, CBO Says

The Obamacare replacement plan offered by House Republican leadership eventually would lower health insurance premiums and reduce federal budget deficits, although 24 million Americans no longer would have coverage, the Congressional Budget Office says.

In a report estimating the cost of the plan, released late Monday, the CBO projects the American Health Care Act would reduce budget deficits by $337 billion from 2017 to 2026.

About 14 million more Americans would not have health insurance if the House bill is enacted, compared with how many have it now under Obamacare, the report says. A total of 24 million more would be uninsured by 2026.

CBO’s “scoring” of the costs of the Obamacare replacement plan cleared it of one hurdle: Under the budget tool Republicans are using to pass the bill, called reconciliation, the legislation must save the government at least $2 billion over 10 years.

Under reconciliation, it takes only 51 votes for a bill to clear the Senate, rather than the 60 votes normally needed to end debate and proceed to a floor vote. Republicans have 52 seats in the Senate, and Democrats appear determined to defend former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

By curbing the expansion of eligibility for Medicaid under Obamacare, the CBO report says, House Republicans’ plan–which so far has President Donald Trump’s backing–would decrease spending by $880 billion from 2017 to 2026:

[The] reduction would stem primarily from lower enrollment throughout the period, culminating in 14 million fewer Medicaid enrollees by 2026, a reduction of about 17 percent relative to the number under current law.

CBO notes that the drop in number of Americans covered would come in large part from removing Obamacare’s “individual mandate” that all Americans buy health insurance:

Most of that increase [in uninsured persons] would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.

By 2026, CBO estimates, approximately 52 million people would be uninsured, versus 28 million who would be without health insurance under Obamacare.

Insurance premiums in the individual market would increase by 15 percent to 20 percent in 2018 and 2019, the report says. The cause: The bill would eliminate penalties for not obtaining insurance, so more healthy people will choose not to buy it.

However, the report found that by 2026, premiums would be 10 percent lower than they currently are under Obamacare:

Under the legislation, insurers would be allowed to generally charge five times more for older enrollees than younger ones rather than three times more as under current law, substantially reducing premiums for young adults and substantially raising premiums for older people.

Under Obamacare, monthly premiums are expected to increase by an average of 25 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Addressing concerns that the Obamacare replacement plan would not cover as many Americans as Obamacare does, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that is the price of not mandating coverage.

“The one thing I’m certain will happen is CBO will say, ‘Well, gosh. Not as many people will get coverage,’” Ryan said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“You know why? Because this isn’t a government mandate,” Ryan said. “This is not the government that makes you buy what we say you should buy, and therefore the government thinks you’re all going to buy it.”

Without the mandate on individuals and employers, Ryan said, it is no surprise that some will lose coverage.

The Congressional Budget Office, part of the legislative branch, provides budget and economic information to Congress as its “scorekeeper” on spending and revenue.

As usual, CBO notes that its scores are cost estimates “intended to ensure that when the House and Senate consider legislation recommended by committees, members have information about the budgetary consequences of enacting that legislation that can be used to enforce budgetary rules or targets.”

In a graphic, The Wall Street Journal used the CBO numbers to show how the number of Americans without coverage would increase sharply under the Republican plan:

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price quickly took issue with the numbers, a CNN reporter tweeted.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted that the Republican plan would cause “serious harm” to Americans.

But Ryan praised the CBO report, saying it showed the GOP leadership’s plan would lower premiums and improve health care.

(For more from the author of “Obamacare Replacement Bill Would Reduce Number Insured as Well as Deficits, CBO Says” please click HERE)

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House GOP Obamacare Plan Faces Uphill Battle in Senate

The highly anticipated Obamacare replacement plan cleared the first of several hurdles in the House this week, where the House GOP’s proposal was the focus of intense scrutiny and opposition.

But as the bill makes it way through the lower chamber, the American Health Care Act could already be facing a long and difficult road ahead in the Senate.

There, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs 51 Republicans to vote in favor of the Obamacare proposal.

But so far, support for the bill in the upper chamber already appears to be wavering.

Just hours after the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees released the text of the plan Monday evening, Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, criticized the bill.

“What’s been introduced in the House in the last 24 hours is not the Obamacare replacement plan, not the Obamacare repeal plan, we’ve been hoping for,” Lee said Tuesday. “This is instead a step in the wrong direction, and as much as anything, it’s a missed opportunity.”

Then, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., encouraged House Republicans to go back to the drawing board.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, too, was skeptical about the bill’s fate in the upper chamber.

“The House bill as currently drafted, I don’t believe it will pass the Senate,” he told CNN after dining with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

But Cruz didn’t rule out changes being made to the bill, and ones that could sway his fellow conservatives.

“We can fix it,” the Texas senator continued.

Cruz, Lee, and Paul, as well as Freedom Caucus members, have been urging Republican leaders to take up a bill crafted in 2015 that repealed large chunks of Obamacare.

The legislation, passed through reconciliation, eliminated the penalties associated with the individual and employer mandates, and repealed Obamacare’s tax credits, Medicaid expansion, and taxes. It also stripped Planned Parenthood of its federal funding.

The 2015 repeal bill cleared both the House and Senate, but President Barack Obama ultimately vetoed the bill.

Republicans are using reconciliation once more to fast-track the Obamacare replacement plan through the Senate, where it needs 51 votes to pass.

But the GOP holds 52 seats in the upper chamber, which leaves them with little wiggle room. If more than two senators oppose the proposal, the bill fails.

Already, Paul, who is the bill’s biggest critic, has said the replacement plan isn’t going anywhere in the Senate.

“Obamacare-lite: dead on arrival,” he told Fox News on Thursday night. “They might as well just start over.”

Though conservatives have been the most outspoken against the House GOP’s replacement plan, McConnell isn’t only facing complaints from the Senate’s right flank.

Moderate Republicans in the upper chamber have criticized the replacement proposal, too. But their concerns differ substantially from those of their conservative colleagues.

In an interview with Yahoo News, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she agreed with Paul that the legislation was “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

“I do not think it would be well received,” Collins said.

The Maine Republican said she is concerned by estimates projecting 6 million to 10 million Americans could lose coverage under the plan, and also disagreed with the proposed changes to the Medicaid expansion.

Republicans are still waiting on cost and coverage estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, which are expected next week.

But Collins also noted that the legislation is a “work in progress.”

“I want us to slow down to take more time to be sure we get this right,” Collins said.

Like Collins, four other Senate Republicans, Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said they are worried about changes to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

“While we support efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and make structural reforms to the Medicaid program, we are concerned that the Feb. 10 draft proposal from the House of Representatives does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion or the necessary flexibility for states,” the senators said in a letter to McConnell on Monday, referencing an early draft of the replacement plan.

The current Obamacare proposal phases out the Medicaid expansion in 2020, but states can continue to enroll those who are newly eligible and receive the enhanced federal match rate—95 percent in 2017, with a decrease to 90 percent for 2020 and beyond—until then.

After 2020, states that continue to enroll new Medicaid beneficiaries would receive the traditional federal match rate, an average of 57 percent.

Meanwhile, at an event with Politico, McConnell said there was “a lot to like” about the House GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan, which he said presented an opportunity to reform Medicaid and fix the private health insurance market.

But the Senate majority leader also contended that opposing senators would be able to offer fixes to the plan once it arrives in the upper chamber.

“People will offer amendments, there are unlimited amendments, unlimited,” McConnell said. “Not everyone is going to like everything in the bill. That’s the way legislation is. I’ll say it again, it’s not like nobody is going to have a chance to change it.”

The House GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan passed the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees this week. It will head to the Budget Committee next week, which is charged with packaging the two pieces of legislation together.

Once that occurs, the proposal heads to the House floor for a vote. (For more from the author of “House GOP Obamacare Plan Faces Uphill Battle in Senate” please click HERE)

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Lie, Lie, Lie: Ryan and Co. Caught in Twisted Pretzel of Lies to Preserve Obamacare

The lying being employed to preserve Obamacare has likely surpassed the degree of intensity of the Gang of Eight immigration bill when Republicans were trying to convince conservatives the bill was the opposite of what it actually did.

At the time, they lied about the nature of the bill, its outcomes, its cause and effect, and the entire premise behind it. They used conservative talking points to describe something antithetical to what was actually in the bill while at the same time telling us lies about the legislative process. Allies of GOP leadership also managed to get liberal groups to fund ads in conservative districts selling amnesty as border enforcement.

All of those elements are playing out this week — except the stakes and magnitude of the lying is worse.

They are repealing Obamacare and not repealing it at the same time!

Out of one side of their mouths varying establishment figures say #RINOcare is full repeal. When we demonstrate that it’s not, they blame the Senate parliamentarian and congressional process. They say we cannot repeal the price-hiking, competition-destroying regulations that form the core of Obamacare because the parliamentarian won’t allow those provisions through the budget reconciliation process.

A logical observer of this subterfuge would ask the following question:

“Wait, so you mean you are now changing your argument from “yes, we are repealing Obamacare” to “no, we are not repealing Obamacare because the parliamentarian ate our homework”?

Privately, other leadership figures will tell rank-and-file members that we can’t repeal the regulations because of political considerations. They are too scared to explain how the pre-existing condition element of Obamacare is the core element driving up prices and inducing a death spiral of insolvency.

Which begs the next logical set of questions:

What is the official story-line of Republicans promoting this fake repeal bill? Do they not want to repeal it? Can they not repeal it because of process constraints? Or is this bill itself actually full repeal of Obamacare, as they keep advertising to the public?

All three choices, evidently!

The parliamentarian excuse is a bald faced lie and here’s the proof

As for the question of the parliamentarian and the budget process, we have already thoroughly debunked the myth that the regulations cannot be repealed through reconciliation. Based on precedent, CBO’s analysis, the courts, and the power of the vice president (presiding officer of the Senate) to overrule the parliamentarian, the regulations can all be repealed in a one-sentence bill. Republican leaders, who are owned by the Obamacare-loving Chamber of Commerce, just don’t want to do it. There are cants and there are wonts. This is a clear example of wont.

But here’s further proof they are lying to us about the constraints of the budget reconciliation process. The fine print of their own bill self-incriminates their contention that regulations cannot be repealed through the budget reconciliation. I noted before that the Congressional Research Service lists 24 regulations in Obamacare. The heart and soul of what drives up the costs are the core regulations of guaranteed issue, community rating, and the requirement to cover a panoply of wasteful costs. Those elements are what has made Obamacare insolvent because they force insurers to cover everyone under every circumstance for every disease at the same price of the general public. It takes the concept of insurance out of insurance. Hence, the crushing costs for everyone and the lack of choice and competition.

However, there are a bunch of other regulations that have a much smaller impact on the marketplace. Two of the 24 regulations are actually repealed or modified in this GOP bill. They are called “actuarial value” and age-rating restrictions. They will only have a negligible effect, especially because actuarial value is not repealed until 2020, long after the death spiral will occur.

It’s not important to get into the details of what these regulations do, but the inclusion of them in the GOP bill demonstrates incontrovertibly that when Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. (F, 51%) wants to stick regulation repeal into budget reconciliation he can. There are also several other extraneous provisions in the bill that don’t have a positive budgetary effect, yet Republicans don’t seem to worry about the parliamentarian striking them out of the process.

The bottom line is that the parliamentarian has no right to subject every individual provision of the bill to the “Byrd Rule” (requirement to have a budget effect) instead of looking at the entire bill in totality as a net budget cut. Ryan is simply lying when he says we can’t repeal guaranteed issue and community rating, which have a much greater budgetary impact than almost anything else he does include in the bill.

The lie about a second and third effort at repeal

Paul Ryan and administration officials also promise us that there will be future repeal efforts.

First, let’s just note for the record that this in itself self-incriminates their other lies; namely that the current bill is full repeal and will bring down prices and/or that full repeal is not politically feasible. Be it as it may, they are trapped in another double lie. If it is their contention that the parliamentarian has judicial review over the majority party and the future of our health care, then we never have the ability to repeal the worst elements of Obamacare. Nothing will change in the future. They should admit this point publicly and stop lying to the voters.

Under the GOP establishment’s assumption that budget reconciliation constrains them from repealing the regulations and enacting conservative reforms, we will have this same problem in “round two” and “round three.” The only other options for passing any conservative bill would be to eliminate the filibuster or enforce the “two speech rule,” which they have expressed no desire to do. What we can or can’t do on round one holds true for every round.

There are many more lies to debunk and will have to be addressed in future articles. For example, Ryan said that the regulations can be repealed administratively by HHS Secretary Tom Price. Aside from the fact that Republicans have demonstrated they don’t want to repeal them, this is simply not true. [read more here on that point ]

What is really playing out is reminiscent of ancient Persia whereby “a writ that is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be rescinded” [Esther, 8:8]. No Democrat policy — no matter how destructive and illogical — can ever be repealed because of the lies promulgated by the political class. They lie to us about the nature of the policies and they make up excuses to avoid repealing those policies in order to cover their original lies. Sadly, while Democrats lie in pursuit of their goals and aspirations, Republicans lie in pursuit of the other side’s ideals. (For more from the author of “Lie, Lie, Lie: Ryan and Co. Caught in Twisted Pretzel of Lies to Preserve Obamacare” please click HERE)

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GOP Should Look up the Definition of ‘Obamacare’ Before Claiming to Repeal It

The reason why Republicans are able to perpetuate the lie that they are repealing Obamacare is because they have obfuscated the definition of Obamacare.

The regulations are everything

At its core, Obamacare is the imposition of actuarially insolvent regulations, which spike the cost of premiums and chase out choice, competition, and innovation (which further raises costs). This, in turn, engenders a need for mass subsidization, which in itself is not only costly to the government (taxpayers), but further distorts the insurance market.

That is because insurers now negotiate with government within the confines of regulations and subsidies to box out competition rather than working directly with market demand of consumers, unencumbered by price-hiking regulations and artificially inflated demand from subsidies.
This is also why the customer service of insurance companies has been horrible; there is no ability or incentive to work with consumers. Either way they are regulated. Either way they get subsidized.

That is the definition of Obamacare’s most destructive element. That is the part of Obamacare that is not repealed at all before 2020 and only tweaked after 2020 in the GOP leadership plan. Prices will not come down. Worse, the subsidies — which will be geared more toward middle-income and upper-middle income families — will create an even greater market distortion than Obamacare’s subsidies primarily for lower-income groups already have.

Thus, when Republicans say they are repealing Obamacare, but then proceed to talk about the repeal of the individual and employer mandates and tax increases, they are lying to you. The mandates and the taxes are not Obamacare — they are the funding mechanisms for Obamacare. By repealing the mandates and taxes without repealing the regulations, exchanges, and subsidies will cause adverse selection whereby younger, healthier individuals will leave the system.

Republicans will own a more precipitous Obamacare death spiral than the existing turmoil under current law. Ironically, it will be blamed on the “repeal and replace” bill, even though it is in fact the non-repealed version (regulations and subsidies) exacerbated by the repeal of the funding mechanism (mandates and taxes) that will cause the system to collapse.

The result will be either single-payer or a massive insurance bailout, even before the “reforms” are put in place in 2020. The number of people flooding the Medicaid expansion before the partial freeze in 2020 will further blow a hole in the system, and at a higher price.

Taxes and mandates are bad, but are not the source of the problem

Don’t get me wrong — I hate tax hikes and mandates as much as anyone else. But they are not the source of the destruction in the insurance market. In fact, the individual and employer mandates are necessary once you agree to the premise of regulated and subsidized health care (a doctrine enshrined by this RINOcare legislation). Otherwise, there aren’t enough people paying into the system to keep the Ponzi scheme afloat for even a few years.

Tax hikes are always bad for economic growth, but they were not responsible for the skyrocketing premiums, lack of choice and competition, limited physician networks, and horrible customer service. Most of the tax revenue comes from a 3.8 percent surtax on investment income and an increase in payroll taxes on upper-income earners.

Those are onerous and anti-growth taxes, but are not the source of the health care problems. The few tax hikes directly levied on health insurance are either small in scope, have only been implemented recently, or, in the case of the “Cadillac” tax, has been indefinitely delayed.

The magical reason the insurance market, which was never fully free market, suddenly became like Venezuela after Obamacare was passed is not due to the tax increases.

It’s the regulations, stupid.

The Congressional Research Service lists 24 Obamacare regulations that are almost solely responsible for the high prices and lack of competition. Refusal to repeal the regulations, along with the self-fulfilling subsidies, is the full retention of Obamacare. Anyone telling you otherwise is lying to you.

Not only are the regulations the culprit of higher premiums, they are responsible for an estimated $19 billion in lost wages, 10,000-plus fewer business establishments, nearly 300,000 lost jobs, and $51 billion in costs and more than 172 million hours of paperwork compliance, according to the American Action Forum.

The only way to bring down costs is to repeal the regulations. As Charles Blahous, a former Social Security trustee, pointed out, the CBO has already hinted to the fact that repealing the regulations would not only dramatically reduce prices, but also cover many more people than what the GOP “American Health Care Act” plans to do.

Simply put — you can’t offer lower prices and offer people better coverage without repealing Obamacare. (For more from the author of “GOP Should Look up the Definition of ‘Obamacare’ Before Claiming to Repeal It” please click HERE)

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5 Reasons the GOP’s Obamacare Plan Isn’t Real Repeal

Republicans have promised time and again to repeal Obamacare—not fix it, not try to make it better—they promised to repeal it.

Here are five reasons the American Health Care Act put forward by GOP leadership does not fulfill that promise.

1) The bill does not fully repeal Obamacare. If you have a faulty foundation, nothing you build on top of it is stable or sustainable. Tweaking a little here and there is not going to get the job done. Obamacare should be completely repealed before any replacement or reforms are introduced.

Republicans already have the model for this in their 2015 repeal bill. Every single GOP senator voted for that legislation. There was just one problem at the time: Barack Obama was president. Now, under a President Donald Trump, there’s no impediment to finishing the job.

2) There is no real expectation that this bill will lower costs and make it more affordable for all Americans. It fails to correct the features of Obamacare, namely insurance regulations, that drove up health insurance costs and premiums in the first place.

And that means that the 25 million Americans who get their insurance on the private market or through small-employer plans will see little to no relief. Obama promised that you would be able to keep you doctor. Seven years later, we know that’s not true. Republicans said they would fix this by repealing Obamacare. Now, the very people who have suffered under Obamacare are at risk again of being on the losing end of the deal—again.

3) The bill does not repeal Medicaid expansion. In fact, it encourages states to sign up even more people over the next three years. The costs of this policy are not sustainable without driving states and taxpayers further into debt. But equally wrong is that this bill does not address the problem of states increasingly steering Medicaid dollars originally intended for the truly needy and disabled to able-bodied adults.

4) The tax treatment of health care should be at the center of true reform, but this bill fails to tackle that issue head on or to ask and answer the hard questions.

Should tax credits be used to finance the purchase of health insurance on the individual market?

If so, who gets these tax credits and who will pay for them?

That’s a debate we can have after Obamacare is fully repealed and we are starting from square one. But we are not starting from square one and the current bill runs the risk of expanding our already massive health care entitlement programs.

5) Unlike previous attempts to repeal Obamacare, there is serious concern that the current bill does not adequately prevent the use of taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortions.

Obamacare is a faulty foundation and Congress should not attempt to build anything on top of it.

For the past four elections—2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016—voters sent a message and consistently elected Republicans to Congress because they promised to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Unfortunately, it appears this Congress is trying to treat the symptoms of a failing program as opposed to going after the cause of the disease.

The time for full repeal is here. No more excuses. (For more from the author of “5 Reasons the GOP’s Obamacare Plan Isn’t Real Repeal” please click HERE)

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