Posted by on April 6, 2017 11:28 pm
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Categories: 111th United States Congress 115th United States Congress American Health Care Act Congress donald trump Economy Excises Health House Rules Committee Humana Internal Revenue Code Internal Revenue Service obamacare Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Politics Politics of the United States republican party Trump Administration Twitter United States white house

After a brief twitter war between Trump and the House Freedom Caucus last week over the failed healthcare legislation, new rumblings seem to suggest that all hope is not yet lost for a repeal of Obamacare.  As The Hill notes this morning, Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows says that his group would be willing to support TrumpCare to the extent it made changes on the following 3 issues:

  • Essential Health Benefits – Mandate what services insurers must cover;
  • Community Rating – Says insurers can’t charge sick people more for insurance;
  • Guaranteed Issue – Says insurers must cover people with pre-existing conditions.

The intent of the changes, of course, would be to lower premiums for young, healthy insurance buyers who have basically been shut out of the market after Obamacare essentially imposed egregious penalties on them to help cover the costs of older, sicker patients.

Referencing the three changes above, Meadows said that “the majority of the Freedom Caucus would be favorably inclined to vote for that.”

And while it’s still unknown when/if a new iteration of TrumpCare will come back to the House for a vote, there seems to be growing pressure from the Trump administration to push through last-minute amendments to the latest bill before Congress leaves for its two-week recess. 

The House Rules Committee is reportedly organizing a meeting late Thursday to weigh a new change to the bill that would create a fund for “high risk” patients.

This amendment is intended to show that momentum for the new GOP healthcare bill is building, a House leadership aide told Bloomberg.
The news outlet reports that the move to quickly push a new amendment, leaving senators with a limited time to decide whether they support the change, is unusual.

While the bill may not go to the House for votes immediately, Bloomberg reports, the developments show the White House is still pushing for a repeal of ObamaCare in the wake of last month’s failure to get GOP repeal and replace plan to a vote.

Of course, these latest develops follow a very public feud between Trump and various members of the House Freedom caucus that erupted last week…

….and our note from just yesterday that Knoxville, TN could be “ground zero” for the imminent explosion of Obamacare after Humana, the last remaining insurer in the region, pulled out of the exchanges leaving 40,000 residents with no healthcare options (see “Knoxville, TN Could Be Ground Zero For The Obamacare Explosion“).

For the 40,000 people living in and around Knoxville, TN, Humana was the only insurance company providing healthcare coverage for the 2017 plan year.  That said, even with their monopoly in the market, Humana still couldn’t figure out a way to make money on the Obamacare exchanges in the 16 Tennessee counties where it was the sole insurer.  As such, the company has decided to cancel its coverage in 2018 potentially leaving Knoxville’s 40,000 residents with no healthcare options at all.

Per the map below from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, while most of Tennessee is covered by Blue Cross and Cigna, the 16 counties surrounding Knoxville in the eastern portion of the state will have to find a new insurer to fill in for Humana by July 1st or residents there simply won’t have access to healthcare for the 2018 plan year. 


In the end, as we’ve noted before, the Obamacare exchanges around the country are stuck in a negative feedback loop where healthy people are refusing to sign up, which leads to losses for insurers, which leads to higher rates, which, of course, leads to even fewer healthy people signing up.

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