Archive for Monday, July 10, 2017

Trump presses Congress on health care bill: Get it done

July 10, 2017


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pressed Congress on Monday to get health care done before leaving for its long August recess, even as Republican senators say the GOP effort so far to repeal and replace the nation's health law is probably dead.

On Monday, as senators were returning to Washington after the July Fourth recess, the president tweeted, "I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go!"

But prospects for the Republican effort in the Senate have been fading, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been scrambling to salvage the faltering legislation. Support for the initial measure eroded during the weeklong July 4 break as many senators heard from constituents angry about the GOP bill and the prospect of rising premiums.

"We don't know what the plan is," said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., on Sunday. "Clearly, the draft plan is dead. Is the serious rewrite plan dead? I don't know."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said it may now be time for Republicans to come up with a new proposal with support from Democrats.

"I think my view is it's probably going to be dead," McCain said of the GOP bill. If Democrats are included, he said, it doesn't mean "they control it. It means they can have amendments considered. And even when they lose, then they're part of the process. That's what democracy is supposed to be all about."

Signaling his pessimism as well, Sen. Chuck Grassley wrote on Twitter late Saturday that Republicans will lose their Senate majority if they don't pass health care legislation. The Iowa Republican said the party should be "ashamed" that it hasn't been able to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.


The White House, anxious for a legislative victory on health care, insisted that it fully expects a GOP repeal and replace bill to pass in the coming weeks that will fulfill Trump's pledge to end Obamacare. Democrats have ruled out negotiating with Republicans unless they work to fix the law, not repeal it.

"Whether it'd be before August recess or during August recess, the president expects the Senate to fulfill the promises it made to the American people," said White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Trump used Twitter Sunday afternoon to urge Republicans to follow through on their pledge to get rid of the health care law pushed by his predecessor.

"For years, even as a "civilian," I listened as Republicans pushed the Repeal and Replace of ObamaCare. Now they finally have their chance!," Trump said in a tweet.

At least 10 GOP senators have expressed opposition to the initial bill drafted by McConnell. Republicans hold a 52-48 majority and Democrats stand united against the bill, meaning that just three GOP defections will doom it.

McConnell last week said he would introduce a fresh bill in about a week scuttling and replacing much of former President Barack Obama's health care law. But McConnell also acknowledged that if the broader effort fails, he may turn to a smaller bill with quick help for insurers and consumers and negotiate with Democrats.

Cassidy, an uncommitted senator who encountered upset voters this month at a Baton Rouge town hall, rated the chances of Republicans passing broader legislation in the next three weeks at "50-50." He cited questions about the impact on coverage and cost in a revised conservative plan being circulated by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Cruz's plan, which aims to lower premiums for healthy people, has drawn support from the White House and some conservatives in the House, which would have to approve any modified bill passed by the Senate. But his proposal has limited appeal to Republican moderates such as Grassley, who told Iowa Public Radio that it may be "subterfuge to get around pre-existing conditions."

Cruz on Sunday sought to dismiss Grassley's criticism as a "hoax" being pushed by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, insisting that people will be able to get the coverage they need at an affordable price. Cruz cast his plan as a compromise to unify the party on a GOP health bill.

"When it comes to repealing Obamacare, what I think is critical is that Republicans, we've got to honor the promise we made to the voters that millions of Americans are hurting under Obamacare," Cruz said.

The growing skepticism among Senate Republicans spurred Trump earlier this month to suggest repealing the Obama-era law right away and then replacing it later, an approach that GOP leaders and the president himself considered but dismissed months ago as impractical and politically unwise.

Cassidy cautioned that if senators are unable to reach agreement by the end of July then a "repeal-only" bill would be a non-starter.

Cassidy and Priebus appeared on "Fox News Sunday," Cruz spoke on ABC's "This Week" and CBS' "Face the Nation," and McCain was on CBS.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 months, 1 week ago

Health care is expensive. People want "free" government health care like most of the rest of the civilized world. There is no such thing as "free".........there needs to be money to pay for it.

Pay for health insurance from insurance companies who are in business to make a profit.

Or pay taxes to make it possible for the government to provide health care services.

But people do not want to do either.

So........where are we??...........nowhere.

Sam Crow 8 months, 1 week ago

Of the 154 health plans in the United States with at least 100,000 enrollees, 97 (or 63%) are non profit, 16 (10%) are government, and 41 (27%) are for profit.

The third, fifth, and sixth largest are non profit and cover over 25 million lives.

Nineteen of the largest thirty are non profit.

The non profit Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas is ranked 39th largest and covers over 700,000 people.

Your point, as always, is a fallacy, based not on facts but emotion

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

Sam, BCBS may not be traded on Wall Street, and it many still maintain many non profit perks in most states, but it's hardly a non profit.

Sam Crow 8 months, 1 week ago

Dottie, as usual you are making things up in a feeble attempt to validate your fantasy world.

BCBSKS is one of over 30 companies that are licensees of the umbrella national organization BCBS. Each company operates independently of the others.

Some of those licensees are for profit companies. One such company is Anthem, which is based in California.

BCBSKS is organized legally as a nonprofit by its articles of incorporation.

If you are interested in truly informing yourself on the subject, I suggest the National Institute of Health/National Library of Medicine, which has many abstracts on the subject. You may need a paid subscription to access the full articles that originate in Journals.

So maybe, you have something of substance to back up your fact-less statement here ?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 months, 1 week ago

Sam.....YOUR "point is..........shat??" Americans want "free" health insurance.
From the government........ in the "swamp" They to not want to pay for it (taxes) Quote me all the statistics you want from some unknown source. This does not belay the fact that what the American people want will not work. Trump and the Republicans were fools to promise "Repeal and replace" something they simply cannot accomplish. Another Trump lie.

Trump says the Affordable Care Act in imploding. Your "statics' (which you state but do not provide reference for) seem to debunk this.........hmmmmmmm.

Sam Crow 8 months, 1 week ago

You stated the two options were either pay profit making insurance companies, or pay the government.

You are wrong.

I proved most health insurance companies are non profit.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

No one who wants single payer health insurance ever considers it "free". I would just like to see everyone contributing to health care. Those of us who are responsible enough to have insurance and who pay what the insurance doesn't, get our prices hiked up by those who don't want to bother buying insurance and just expect really free health care. Those costs are covered by raising prices on the rest of us. Now, I realize there are many poor people who can't afford health care, but there are plenty of people who can, but don't, because they know that an emergency room won't turn them down when they need stitches.

Michael Kort 8 months, 1 week ago

Yes, and medical bankruptcy is getting to be big business !

They probably unload all of their other debts at the same time .

The solution is single payer and i doubt that the CEO of BCBS just volunteers but is probably well paid........ditto for the last CEO of the non profit group that owned St. Francis Hospital in Topeka .

No Poverty Cases There .

We all know that medicare is the most approved insurance and is single payer and they can always raise the basic cost of that and drop the age thing .

Doing anything will eventually raise the taxes or premiums of those who are sitting pretty and they won't like it ,

BOO HOO for the richer class, ........BOO HOO........which is nicer than telling another person that they are not your problem and they can go somewhere else and drop dead .

Steve Jacob 8 months, 1 week ago

If the Republicans can work with the Democrats and fix the ACA if would give them cover in the midterms and Trump can claim he has united Congress.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

But they won't, because the GOP's goal and Trump's goal is to dismantle everything that has to do with Obama. They could care less about health care. I mean they even came out against healthy food in school lunch programs.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 months, 1 week ago

Dorothy, I think you have revealed the horrible truth. They do not want anything but to dismantle anything that has to do with the hated black, non-citizen, Muslim President of the United States. This fact has become crystal clear to anyone who has an open mind. Trump is leading the charge in this effort.

Bob Hiller 8 months, 1 week ago

In a perfect world, the President and Congress would all understand all the issues and would also have feelings for those who need health insurance to survive. USA 2017 is far from this perfect world, apparently.

Steve Jacob 8 months, 1 week ago

We have so many issues coming. Alzheimer's is going to cripple Medicaid/Medicare and the debt only goes higher. Someday we will have to make some very tough choices, but I guess not now. Kick the can down road, I guess.

Sam Crow 8 months, 1 week ago

Medicare alone already has a $ 27.5 Trillion dollar unfunded liability.

That is $220,000 per current taxpayer.

The day of financial reckoning is coming.

Bob Summers 8 months, 1 week ago

The people under the influence of DRD4 polymorphism could care less. They will blame others for the reckoning. It is impossible for them to care. All they know is to feed off of others wealth. When that wealth is gone they blame you.

Ken Lassman 8 months, 1 week ago

And exactly how does the "novelty seeking gene" translate to caring less about health care? It's amazing how strong of a determinant that pesky little gene has become in your mind, Bob. Personally, I attribute your perspective to the personality of your second grade teacher, who I suspect had to have a second job and did not give you the emotional support that you needed during that formative year....

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

Conservatives used to say that we need more competition in the health care market to make prices go down. I actually agree with this. Insurance companies have almost a state by state monopoly on health insurance. So what is stopping them from forcing insurance companies to compete nationwide? The states. And which party is running most of the state governments? Yes, the GOP. And there hasn't been one world of changing any of this, since they managed to get a president that won't veto their "plan". They have had several years to come up with a plan to replace the ACA. And what they have given us doesn't work. The insurance companies don't want to have to compete nationwide, so they spend a bunch of that premium money buying politicians.

Sam Crow 8 months, 1 week ago

“So what is stopping them from forcing insurance companies to compete nationwide?”

Dottie, a now antiquated law passed by Congress 65 years ago, gave the states each the ability to regulate the health insurance companies as they deemed fit. In Kansas the Insurance Commissioner runs the show. It can be noted that is the position that Kathy Sebelius was in.

Ergo, for a health insurance company to sell product out of the home state of which they are regulated, they would have to adhere to the regulations of every state they sold into. With so many different regulations in states, some even in conflict with one another, it is a logistical nightmare to sell interstate policies.

That said, BCBS Kansas City sells policies to residents in Johnson and Wyandotte counties, in a special regulatory arrangement. That irritates residents of JOCO, as they are unable to buy from BCBSKS, which has better and less expensive policies.

Part of the replacement of the ACA would include changes to those regulatory laws.

Ken Lassman 8 months, 1 week ago

And yet it was Sebelius' experience as Insurance Commissioner that led her to review the proposed takeover of BCBSKS by Anthem of Indiana and decide that the resulting merger would drain BCBSKS of its reserves, dilute the expertise that BCBSKS had developed in serving the needs of Kansans, and hike premiums for Kansans, especially the economically vulnerable groups. This led her to reject the proposed deal, and that decision held up in the courts. This is at least partially why BCBSKS has better and less expensive policies, don't you think? So what would have happened under the proposed Trumpcare legislation?

I'm not saying that cost containment policies are not needed: they are. But the current proposals aren't necessarily that even though it is being presented as such. Until we get all parties at the table to craft the legislation, not just let those who contribute to campaigns craft the legislation and let all others propose amendments at the last minute, I suspect the proposals will continue to be pork barrel and lipstick in nature.

I don't pretend to have all of the answers, Sam--what do you think is the way through all of this? I know that setting up the states with capped Medicaid will hurt those with disabilities first and repeatedly because things like HCBS funding that allows folks to remain at home instead of being institutionalized is an optionally funded item and will take a back seat to the items that are mandatory. That's just wrong, plain and simple, and even Moran has expressed his concern about this. I'm all ears, Sam!

Marc Wilborn 8 months, 1 week ago

Wow, that is quite the stretch calling the states the biggest problem. Medical services need competition but that is difficult when one of the main players (Feds) don't like competition. Everyone complains about Halliburton and the Gulf war. Just imagine if the Feds ran the entire medical system.

I like competition too. Let's have more doctors and nurses.

Richard Heckler 8 months, 1 week ago

Members of the house and senate have not put forth a fair or affordable health insurance plan in 60 years. Members of the house and senate instead allow the insurance industry to design whatever then pay back elected officials billions of campaign dollars over time which are health care dollars btw.

Taxpayers realize that the medical insurance industry is as corrupt as the mafia, President Trump, ALEC, BIG OIL, too many in the house and senate and our election system.

There is only one way to satisfy the demand for ethical medical insurance coverage. Yes let the consumers decide for it is impossible for elected officials to make the best decisions.

Richard Heckler 8 months, 1 week ago

To be fair to all in America there is only one way to satisfy the demand for ethical medical insurance coverage. That is by way of choice to consumers.

In fact three choices for maximum satisfaction. LET THE VOTERS DECIDE which approach meets their needs.

=== ObamaCare which retains the health insurance industry for those who fear the word Medicare or phrase Single Payer after all it is their dollar. This needs stiff federal regulations that cannot be superceded by the states. Offer a tax dollar rebate at the end of every year. Sooner or later this group will enroll in single payer.

=== Single Payer Medicare for ALL = excellent coverage for those who wish to enroll. The absolute best choice on planet earth.

=== Self financed health care for those able to do so. Offer a tax dollar rebate at the end of every year.

Ken Lassman 8 months, 1 week ago

The Republican and Democrat leaders in both the Senate and House have completely forgotten the art of bipartisan legislation, as is evidenced by McCain's lame comments about how the Republicans could allow the Dems to submit some amendments, which would be voted down and then claim "that's what democracy is all about."

I'm not saying Dole, Baker and Daschle were perfect in any respect, but at least they knew how to carve out bipartisan legislation. That's why they co-formed the Bipartisan Policy Institute 10 years ago. I think the Senate and House leadership need to be locked up in the BPI for an intensive crash course on what it means to craft bipartisan legislation, then led by the nose by BPI staff in a process to START with everyone at the table, and building a piece of legislation that identifies the main issues of providing health policty (rising costs in premiums paid by families, access to affordable healthcare, providing prevention instead of Emergency Room care, etc.) and addresses them head-on.

If they throw up their hands, then I say that the voters should throw them all out and pull up the next slate to give it another try, replacing the leadership as many times as it takes until they show the guts to deal with the problem.

Of course this is impossible, but one can dream, can't we? How about the Bipartisan Policy Institute crafting a pledge of bipartisanship that can be a pledge that future congressional candidates could sign up for? I have little hope for the current leadership, so it's time to make use of the years of wandering in the wilderness to get this destructive partisanship addiction out of our system. It's worse than opioids or cigarettes in terms of our nation's long term prospects.

Bob Summers 8 months, 1 week ago

This is no sustainable plan to pay for people that will not pay their own way.

How many trillions has the Liberal siphoned off the working stiff? Trillions?

Liberals have financially killed America.

Steve Hicks 8 months, 1 week ago

Bob, if you want anyone to take your comments seriously, they have to come from some worldview that people can see reflects reality. Your insistence that "liberals" (by your definition) are the sole cause of EVERY problem doesn't even strike most others of your faction as a worthwhile view of reality.

Especially so when your definition of "liberal" is completely idiosyncratic. Liberal is an actual political philosophy, and the word "liberal" has an actual specific meaning. But your meaning of "liberal" only seems to come down to "anything I don't like." Not many people will sign on to that definition: and it's impossible to connect with people unless they share your basic definitions.

Don't take this as personal criticism: it's your worldview and your definitions that are worthless. Saying they're "yours" isn't blame: it's just the reality that you have chosen them, and choose to maintain them.

Saying they're "yours" also means they belong to you. You have the right and the power to re-examine them, and judge if they've been beneficial for you. If not, you have the right and the power to change them, wholly or in part.

Best wishes, Bob.

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