Trump administration halts billions in insurance payments under Obamacare

Reuters Staff

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Saturday halted billions of dollars in payments to health insurers under the Obamacare healthcare law, saying that a recent federal court ruling prevents the money from being disbursed.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a Make America Great Again rally in Great Falls, Montana, U.S., July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers programs under the Affordable Care Act, said the action affects $10.4 billion in risk adjustment payments.

The payments are intended to help stabilize health insurance markets by compensating insurers that had sicker, more expensive enrollees in 2017. The government collects the money from health insurers with relatively healthy enrollees, who cost less to insure.

CMS, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said the move was necessary because of a February ruling by a federal court in New Mexico, which found that the federal government was using an inaccurate formula for allocating the payments.

A federal court in Massachusetts upheld the same allocation formula in January.

The CMS statement said the agency has asked the New Mexico court to reconsider its decision and expressed hope for a prompt resolution of the issue.

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Opinion: Healthcare Bill Is About The GOP Saving Itself, Not American Citizens

By Demetrius Harris on Sat, Sep 23rd, 2017 at 2:24 pm

The latest attempt by the GOP to replace Obamacare has nothing to do with providing coverage for American citizens. Members of the Republican Party are simply trying to save their political careers as opposed to saving the lives of the constituents that they serve.

The latest attempt by the GOP to replace Obamacare has nothing to do with providing coverage for American citizens. Members of the Republican Party are simply trying to save their political careers as opposed to saving the lives of the constituents that they serve.

After years of promising to repeal and replace the ACA package, the GOP is backed into a corner, and their response is to institute an insidious bill, that denies coverage to those who need it most. Pushing the bill out for vote without the benefit of proper examination and debate is a sign of underhandedness and trickery.

Republicans have placed their personal career goals above and beyond the specter of a comprehensive, inclusive healthcare package that would benefit the entire country. It should be mentioned that the effort to repeal and replace the ACA, was from the very beginning, a political maneuver designed to eradicate legislation by Barack Obama without merit.

Led by the father of all fools, Donald Trump, the GOP have attached their success as a party to hollow promises made without vision or expertise. The result is a bill that has GOP members like Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, to openly admit that he intends to vote in favor of the bill, simply because Republicans have to deliver on their campaign promises. He says this while also conceding that the bill provides at least ten reasons to be voted down. In the eyes of the GOP, doing the despicable is better than breaking a campaign promise.

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When you consider the potential for 32 million people losing coverage, UNLIMITED rising premiums and noncoverage of pre-existing conditions how can any GOP member vote yes for this package in good conscious?

Republicans who are seeing their political careers flash before their eyes in regards to 2018 midterm elections are operating without conscious, care or duty to country. The GOP have put votes and policy above the well-being of taxpayers. They have put the survival of party over the survival of your family.

Republicans have proved without a shadow of a doubt, that they are a collection of self-serving, conniving liars. Now that it’s clear that the drowning GOP has decided to use this reprehensible healthcare package as a life preserver for their party let’s make sure that they are the ones dead in the water in 2018. RESIST…


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These Two Women Senators Are The Real ‘Mavericks’ Of The GOP Health Care Vote

McCain cast the unexpected vote, but Murkowski and Collins never wavered.
By Emma Gray
Senator John McCain made headlines early Friday morning when he cast an unexpected “no” vote against the Senate GOP’s Health Care Freedom Act (a.k.a. “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act). His vote was indeed surprising and decisive, and therefore newsworthy. But it was Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins who stood consistently in opposition to these most recent attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. And without their “no” votes, McCain’s would not have mattered.
Not only did Murkowski and Collins join McCain in voting against the Health Care Freedom Act, they were also the only two Republicans to vote against a motion to proceed on ACA repeal efforts earlier in the week. And they did so, despite men in their own party, in the White House, and on the internet openly threatening them. To sum it up: yet again, women in the Senate nevertheless persisted.
Over the last week, Murkowski and Collins have been called “witches” and “bitches” online. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) said that he would challenge them to a duel ― if they were men, that is. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) defended President Donald Trump’s particular targeting of Sen. Murkowski, telling MSNBC’s Ali Velshi that “somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their ass.” (For those who are unfamiliar with the phrase, “snatch a knot in their ass” means “to hit”.)
And it’s Sen. Murkowski, who represents the deep-red state of Alaska, who arguably has the most to lose from breaking with her party, especially because she has consistently expressed opposition this year to legislation that would “defund” Planned Parenthood. (Sen. Collins represents the much bluer state of Maine.)
Don’t forget about the two women senators, who were there from the beginning. Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Senators Murkowski and Collins
This is likely why Murkowski has faced the brunt of President Trump’s particular ire. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted that Murkowski had “really let the Republicans, and our country, down.” Later that day, the Alaska Dispatch News reported that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had called both Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) after Tuesday’s health care vote to communicate that Murkowski’s vote “had put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy.”
Murkowski ― who is no stranger to facing opposition, having won her 2010 Senate race through a highly impressive write-in campaign ― responded to Trump’s needling with aplomb.
“My vote yesterday was from my heart for the people that I represent. And I’m gonna continue working hard for Alaskans and just focus on that,” she told a reporter who stopped her in the hall to ask about Trump’s tweet: “I have to focus on my job. I have to focus on what I came here to do.”
To an extent, McCain’s surprising and deciding vote has overshadowed the political risks Murkowski and Collins took in standing with their values and their constituents ― even among Democrats in the Senate. Luckily, other women senators have their back.
HuffPost’s Igor Bobic was at the Senate just after Friday’s early morning vote. After the vote, Democrats expressed relief over the bill’s failure. They also sang the praises of McCain.
Asked whether the Arizona Republican was possibly the only senator, given his long, bipartisan record, who could have bucked his party at such a moment, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed.
“Given his stature, his remarks at the beginning when he came in, it moved everyone,” he said. “And I think that helped. He’s a hero. He’s a hero of mine.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who stood nearby, interjected with an aside.
“Also,” she said. “Don’t forget about the two women senators, who were there from the beginning.”
Igor Bobic contributed reporting to this piece.

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Sen. Rob Portman, you just let Ohio down: editorial

Updated on July 25, 2017 at 6:08 PM Posted on July 25, 2017 at 6:07 PM

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, center, followed by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, walk to their seats for a White House luncheon July 19 with President Donald Trump. Portman cast a key vote Tuesday in favor of Senate debate on health care reforms; without Portman’s vote, leaving just two GOP dissenters, Vice President Mike Pence was able to break the tie with a deciding vote to proceed with debate.(Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press)

Sen. Rob Portman cast the wrong vote Tuesday in supporting a hasty, politically motivated effort to allow Senate debate and, presumably, a vote on one or a series of ill-considered, narrowly partisan measures likely to devastate health care in Ohio.

Senate votes to start Obamacare repeal, with Rob Portman’s support

Despite the vote, how Senate Republicans move forward is anything but certain.
He did so despite knowing better.

As Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who cast one of only two Republican “nos” on the Senate floor, said before the vote, no one even knew exactly what senators were being asked to debate and maybe vote on.

Will it be Paul Ryan’s repeal-and-replace House bill; a version of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act”; a rewrite of a 2015 Affordable Care Act repeal attempt, with a Senate promise to replace the law later; a “skinny” Obamacare repeal as unveiled Tuesday, or some other variant?

Under such a confused scenario, debate will necessarily be shallow and limited, especially since Democrats are still being excluded from substantive input.

Portman, a suburban Cincinnati Republican, had said that protecting Ohioans would be a key guide on his vote.

It didn’t prove so.

Given what McConnell’s proposals seek to do, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates nearly 860,000 Ohioans could lose Medicaid coverage through 2029 – as our earlier editorial noted, that’s more than the population of Portman’s Hamilton County.

Portman says health care legislation must protect vulnerable Ohioans and those receiving anti-opioid treatments under Medicaid expansion, but McConnell has sought to secure Portman’s votes with fig-leaf offers of additional money.

Portman, it appears, fell for it.

With his Tuesday vote opening the door to possible passage of proposals that would undercut Ohio’s rural health care system and strip hundreds of thousands of Ohioans of coverage, Portman let Ohio down.

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