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Presidential Transition Brief
– Confirmation hearings for President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominees continue. Politico has created an annotated schedule of the hearings. Rep. Tom Price, Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, had his first hearing with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today. Price will also attend hearings with the Senate Finance Committee next Tuesday, January 24.
– Reports indicate Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Assistant Secretary Norris Cochran will oversee HHS until Rep. Tom Price is confirmed as HHS Secretary. Patrick Conway, M.D., will serve as Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator until Seema Verma is confirmed as CMS Administrator.
ACA popularity climbs in advance of its repeal
A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds a plurality of Americans think the Affordable Care Act is a “good idea.” Roughly 45 percent of respondents approve of the law, versus 41 percent who disapprove. Half of respondents also indicated they are skeptical Republicans’ replacement plans will improve the health care system. Mark Murray of NBC News notes this is the first time more Americans have indicated they approve of the ACA than disapprove.
Despite the ACA’s increasing popularity, a large majority of Trump voters are still in favor of repealing the law. A Politico-Harvard poll finds 85 percent of Trump voters believe repealing the law is extremely or very important. While Trump voters do want the health law scrapped, roughly half of the president-elect’s supporters do not want Congress to repeal the law until a replacement plan is ready, notes Joanne Kenan of Politico.
Trump discusses his policy agenda with Axios
Three days before taking office, President-elect Donald Trump said health care is on top of the domestic agenda. In an interview with Robin Groulx of Axios at Trump Tower yesterday, the president-elect expressed he wanted to find a way to make health insurance accessible to all Americans, possibly through Medicaid block grants.
The effects of repealing the Affordable Care Act
A report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates nearly 32 million Americans would become uninsured over the next 10 years if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed. The same report finds 18 million Americans will lose health insurance within one year. CBO also projects huge price jumps for insurance premiums, including a 25 percent increase the first year after the law is repealed. Sy Mukherjee of Fortune reports CBO based its projections on a Republican proposal from 2015, which scraps the tax penalty for those who forgo coverage and does not contain a detailed policy framework for replacement.
Additionally, repealing the ACA will have widespread repercussions for those who receive insurance through their employers. Michelle Andrews of Kaiser Health News explores five ACA provisions that could affect Americans who receive insurance through work, including rules prohibiting limits on lifetime coverage and expanded coverage requirements.
GOP Senators Cassidy and Collins plan to introduce ACA replacement
Next Monday, Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) will introduce a health care plan designed to replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill is based on 2015 Republican legislation. Cassidy and Collins say the plan will not result in in cuts in health care coverage and may actually expand the number of Americans enrolled in an insurance plan. The plan is one of many competing alternatives being floated by Republican legislators, writes Jordain Carney of The Hill.
Republican legislators discussing preservation of Medicaid expansion
Congressional Republicans may retain the Medicaid expansion rolled out under the Affordable Care Act, according to Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), who chairs the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. Republican governors, including those from states including Arizona, Michigan, Ohio and Nevada that have expanded Medicaid enrollment, have spoken in favor of retaining the expansion, citing it as an important factor in ensuring access to affordable insurance coverage, explains Erin Raftery at Inside Health Policy. Burgess noted Republicans are still considering alternative approaches to Medicaid, including a block grant model (subscriber’s content).
Republicans consider temporary funding for ACA subsidies
Congressional Republicans may pass $9 billion in funds to support subsidies to consumers in the individual marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act. Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico explains the move aims to prop up the health insurance market until Republicans can draft and implement a replacement plan. House Republicans are currently engaged in a lawsuit aimed at ending existing funding for the subsidies, arguing the Obama administration exceed its authority by allocating the funds without Congressional approval.