Senate GOP leaders to tackle tax reform, debt ceiling next

Posted August 07, 2017

"It's disturbingly clear that President Trump and his administration are willing to treat them as political pawns; but this coalition of attorneys general stands ready to defend these vital subsidies and the quality, affordable health care they ensure for millions of families across the country".

Just out of its 108th annual convention in Baltimore, the NAACP hailed what it described as a "victory" after the U. S. Senate failed to pass a "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) July 27. Mike Rounds suggested Thursday that instead of pursuing the ambitious, comprehensive rewrite of the tax code they had envisioned in more optimistic times, they might start with a "down payment": a simple 2 percent rate cut across the board or an increase in the standard deduction. Members of Congress expect (rightly so) that premiums would spike if Trump were to cut off the CSR payments immediately - and don't think their voters would be thrilled with such a development. All face re-election in 2018, and all represent states carried by President Trump in the 2016 election. For-profit insurance companies like the ones I used to work for are making record profits as they are able to shift more and more of the cost of care from them to us. Vowing to defend the subsidies, he added, "He's not going to get away with this without a challenge". The Republican caucus in the House is all but controlled by the Freedom Caucus, a group of far-right ideologues who are only too happy to shut down the government or play a game of chicken with America's fiscal obligations in order to make a point.

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Several Republican senators have sought to distance themselves from the president, who has belittled them as looking like "fools" and tried to strong-arm their agenda and browbeat them into changing a venerated rule to make it easier to ram through legislation along party lines.

Senate Republicans heavily lobbied Trump to put a red-state Democratic senator on his cabinet in hopes of getting a GOP replacement, but he ignored their advice, reported Axios.

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Most important: Tackle the actual cost drivers of health care, such as runaway drug prices and opaque medical-procedure costs. Most of the insurance executives I've spoken to in the past few weeks are planning to assume the CSR payments are not coming unless they see some big change on behalf of the White House. "On health care, I did exactly what I said I would do when I ran", he said, "and tried to convince at least one other person to join the 49 of us who couldn't get to a better place in the end". "This is a necessary step to stabilize the individual marketplaces", the National Governors Association said in a statement. "Whether he has the authority is a harder question". And their mood didn't improve after a weekend of tweets by President Donald Trump saying they "look like fools" and White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney using TV appearances to say they should continue voting. "They must not give up", he continued.

Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan Adler said he isn't convinced that the administration can halt the payments "unless and until the case goes away".

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But it's unclear a bipartisan deal can be reach, and Republicans are divided. The Department of Health and Human Services "nowhere argues in its intervention papers that it will adequately protect the States' interests or even continue to prosecute the appeal", according to the court. Recently, officials noted in a report that average insurance premiums have risen by 105 percent between 2013 and 2017. More insurers would bail: More than 4 in 10 insurers said they'd likely leave Obamacare if those payments stopped, in a survey by consulting firm Oliver Wyman Health.