Congress has been working on new budget legislation with bipartisan support. Some parts are clearly positives, such as the restoration of funding for community health centers, and an even-farther-into-the-future extension of CHIP funds. On the other hand, it proposes the death of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, an Obamacare institution intended to hold down health care costs (though the board itself has never actually materialized). This may represent an important symbolic (if immediately immaterial) retreat from the idea of “bending the cost curve”.
“In a rare show of bipartisanship for the mostly polarized 115th Congress, Republican and Democratic Senate leaders announced a two-year budget deal that would increase federal spending for defense as well as key domestic priorities, including many health programs…The deal does appear to include almost every other health priority Democrats have been pushing the past several months, including two years of renewed funding for community health centers and a series of other health programs Congress failed to provide for before they technically expired last year.”
Vox.com runs down the recent Trump executive order on health care:
“The ultimate impact will depend on any new regulations written as a result of the order, but overall, the Trump administration could make cheaper plans with skimpier benefits more available — and experts worry that will damage the ACA’s marketplaces.”
More on the White House’s efforts to undermine Obamacare in absence of a Congressional repeal bill:
“But Trump administration officials say that with insurance premiums soaring in many states, consumers should be able to buy less comprehensive, less expensive coverage as an alternative to conventional plans…That has some insurance experts worried. The influx of a set of plans exempt from the Affordable Care Act rules will essentially divide the market and make it increasingly unstable, said Rebecca Owen, a health research actuary with the Society of Actuaries.”
The CBO report on the Senate’s ACA repeal bill – BCRA – came out on Monday. There are a lot of details, but you can read the general summary here. Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, I think their predictions can best be captured in a single picture – which Alvin Chan and Sarah Kliff at Vox.com have produced from the CBO’s numbers.
If repealing Obamacare was the goal, it looks like BCRA would achieve that. This bill, if it becomes law, would erase all of the insurance coverage gains made over the last 5 years, and effectively take us back to the pre-Obamacare era.