Trump falsely claims ‘we actually got rid of Obamacare except for one vote’

President Donald Trump claimed on Thursday that he had abolished President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.

According to BuzzFeed correspondent David Mack, Trump made the remarks during a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

“We actually got rid of Obamacare except for one vote,” the president reportedly said.

In fact, the Affordable Care Act has not been repealed, but Republicans have undermined it by striking the law’s individual mandate.

[Raw Story]

Trump rips McCain hours after signing bill named after him

President Trump hit Sen. John McCain in a speech hours after signing a defense bill named after the Arizona Republican.

Trump, speaking at a New York fundraising event, sarcastically referred to McCain as “one of our wonderful senators,” and referenced McCain’s key vote against a proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“ObamaCare, we got rid of the individual mandate, which is the most unpopular aspect,” Trump said. “I would’ve gotten rid of everything, but as you know, one of our wonderful senators said ‘thumbs down’ at 2 o’clock in the morning.”

The comment prompted a small chorus of boos from the audience.

Trump earlier in the day did not mention McCain during his signing of the defense bill, a $717 billion piece of legislation that is officially titled the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

The omission sparked backlash among frequent Trump critics, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, who called it “disgraceful.”

[The Hill]

Trump Celebrates ‘Record’ Sales of Nonexistent Health Insurance Policies

As usual, President Donald Trump is either ignorant or lying about his own policies. This time, it’s so ridiculously obvious that correcting the record might sound fake.

During an event Thursday at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Trump was very excited to report that “incredible” numbers of people were signing up for association health plans, a form of coverage his administration is making easier to buy. He’s right about one thing: That truly is incredible, in that it’s the opposite of credible.

Trump didn’t use the term ”association health plans” in his remarks, but he did repeatedly praise Alexander Acosta, the secretary of labor, whose department published the regulations governing these policies last month, so it’s clear what Trump is referring to.

“I hear it’s like record business that they’re doing,” Trump said. “We just opened about two months ago, and I’m hearing that the numbers are incredible. Numbers of people that are getting really, really good health care instead of Obamacare, which is a disaster.”

To recap: zero people have actually enrolled in this insurance because it is literally impossible to do so until Sept. 1 at the earliest. And as for Obamacare being a “disaster,” its current problems have a lot to do with Trump himself.

Association health plans are policies that allow small companies in the same industry to band together to buy health benefits for their employees. These already existed before Trump, and before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010.

President Barack Obama’s administration made them comply with the Affordable Care Act’s rules requiring health plans to provide a minimum, basic set of benefits (things like prescription drugs and maternity care) and limited how insurers could set prices based on the health status of the workers.

The Trump administration is changing that. These association health plans could evade the benefit rules and also charge premiums based on workers ages, occupations and places of business.

Association health plans may save some employees and employers money because they offer skimpier benefits, although those savings could be negated if an employee needs care not covered by her plan and has to pay out of pocket.

And these plans are designed to attract healthy consumers, so the more of them that leave the Affordable Care Act exchanges to join association health plans, the more costly the exchange customer base becomes and the higher premiums for those customers will be.

[Huffington Post]

Trump slashes funding that helps people sign up for Obamacare

The Trump administration is once again slashing funding for a program that helps Americans sign up for Obamacare.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Tuesday that it would provide only $10 million for the navigator program for this fall’s open enrollment season. The move is the latest effort by the Trump administration to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

This past year, navigators only received $36 million in funding, down from $63 million in 2016. The reduction was paired with a 90% cut in Obamacare’s advertising budget.
The agency once again defended the decrease by saying that navigators, which usually hail from non-profit and community organizations, are not effective. They enrolled less than 1% of consumers who signed up for 2018 coverage in 34 states using the federal exchange, according to CMS.

Navigators say they don’t get credit for all the consumers they help guide through the process but don’t actually sign up. Also, navigators assist people with enrolling in Medicaid, which is not reflected in the numbers.

The Trump administration broadened the opportunity for private sector agents and brokers to assist consumers in signing up last fall. They assisted 42% of enrollees, the agency said.

Navigators applying for funding will also be encouraged to show how they will educate people about the newly expanded alternatives to Obamacare, such as association health plans and short-term plans. The Trump administration is making it easier for Americans to sign up for these policies, which many experts say will weaken Obamacare by siphoning off younger and healthier enrollees. These alternative plans don’t have to provide all of the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections.

Consumer groups decried the move.

[CNN]

Trump approves Arkansas Medicaid work requirements

Arkansas on Monday became the third state to get the Trump administration’s permission to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved a Medicaid waiver that included a requirement for recipients to work, or participate in job training or job search activities for 80 hours a month.

State officials said they will begin implementing the work requirements June 1, making them the first state to do so. If a person fails to meet the requirements for three months, he or she will lose coverage for the rest of that calendar year.

However, the state did not get approval to roll back the eligibility level for Medicaid beneficiaries. If that provision had been approved, an estimated 60,000 people would have lost coverage.

Arkansas expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and receives federal funding to pay for those new enrollees. But Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) sought to restrict the program so that only people who are at the federal poverty level would be eligible.

The so-called “partial expansion” was a key test of the limits of the Trump administration’s power on how far states could go to limit Medicaid enrollment. Arkansas officials sought to reduce eligibility, while still getting the same level of federal funding.

[The Hill]

Reality

Work requirements don’t make more people work, because most recipients already work, they just throw them off benefits.

Trump Falsely Claims GOP Tax Bill ‘Repealed Obamacare’

The Republican tax-overhaul bill may have only ended the individual mandate aspect of Obamacare, but that won’t stop President Trump from gloating to his base that he “repealed” his predecessor’s signature legislation. “When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obamacare is being repealed,” the president told the press during a cabinet meeting. “Obamacare has been repealed in this bill.”

Contrary to his claim, however, the Affordable Care Act is still largely intact—from its Medicaid expansion to the insurance exchanges it set up to regulations on insurance companies, including those mandating coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Media

Trump Tells Republicans to Cut Taxes for the Rich, Like Trump

President Donald Trump pushed Republicans on Monday to cut taxes on the rich by using money that’s slated to help lower-income Americans purchase health insurance.

Trump’s request, which the president relayed by Twitter from his trip through Asia, comes at a sensitive moment in tax negotiations. It also goes against his repeated insistence that tax legislation should be focused on providing middle-class tax relief rather than cutting taxes for wealthy filers like himself.

At times, the president has even predicted that he would pay more under a GOP plan (Trump has not released his tax returns, but multiple provisions in the House and Senate bills appear likely to benefit his business and family).

The House and Senate have released competing bills, neither of which ends the individual Obamacare mandate to maintain insurance coverage or lowers the top rate nearly as far as the president requested on Monday.

In the case of the House bill, the top rate would stay at the current 39.6 percent but would apply it to a higher income threshold: For married couples, it would only kick in after the first $1,000,000 in income versus $470,000 now.

The Senate bill would lower the top rate to 38.5 percent and also have a $1,000,000 threshold for married filers.

Republicans have weighed repealing the individual mandate in recent weeks, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would free up $338 billion over 10 years for tax reform.

But the savings occur only because CBO predicts 13 million fewer people would have health insurance by 2027. It’s not clear whether that’s enough to reduce top rates to Trump’s desired levels or provide additional middle-class benefits.

In general, rich households already do well in analyses of the current tax plans thanks to provisions like ending the alternative minimum tax, reducing or repealing the estate tax, and cutting taxes for pass-through entities, all of which could potentially benefit Trump himself.

Under the new Senate bill, for example, the conservative Tax Foundation estimates the top 1 percent of taxpayers would see a 7.5 percent increase in after-tax income, versus less than 2 percent for the bottom 80 percent.

Democrats, who have spent weeks attacking the Republican tax bills as a boon to the rich, quickly seized on Trump’s remarks.

“Sooner or later, President Trump’s core supporters will realize that he’s selling them out,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “This proposal would send premiums for millions of Americans skyrocketing, all so that the wealthy can get an even bigger tax giveaway than they’d get under the original Republican plan.”

[NBC News]

Trump: I want to focus on North Korea not ‘fixing somebody’s back’

President Trump praised health care block grants on Saturday, saying they allow the states to focus on health care, but said he would rather focus his energy on tensions with North Korea than “fixing somebody’s back or their knee.”

“You know in theory, I want to focus on North Korea, I want to focus on Iran, I want to focus on other things. I don’t want to focus on fixing somebody’s back or their knee or something. Let the states do that,” the president told Mike Huckabee on the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s “Huckabee.”

“The block grant concept is a very good concept, and if you have good management, good governors, good politicians in the state, it’ll be phenomenal,” he continued.
“I could almost say we are just about there in terms of the vote, so I expect to be getting health care approved,” he said.

Trump’s comments come after Senate Republicans failed twice this year to fulfill a seven-year campaign promise of repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

The latest repeal and replace failure was the Graham-Cassidy bill, which included block grants to states.

However, the legislation failed after Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Susan Collins (Maine) announced their opposition to the bill last month, effectively killing it.

Trump has expressed frustration in his Republican colleagues in the Senate for their health care failure, so much so that he called Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday to discuss the issue.

The move is likely to unsettle Republicans on Capitol Hill who have been working with Trump on tax reform in recent weeks.

[The Hill]

Trump Falsely Claims Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions Are Guaranteed Coverage Under New Health Bill

President Donald Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to assure Americans their latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) covers people with pre-existing conditions.

Both the president and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) is co-sponsoring the health care bill known as the “Graham-Cassidy plan,” took to Twitter to defend the legislation, expected to be up for a vote on the Senate floor next week. “I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of pre-existing conditions. It does! A great bill,” Trump wrote Wednesday night. “Repeal & Replace.”

Graham quoted the president’s tweet later Wednesday, adding that any claims his bill doesn’t cover those with pre-existing conditions should be called “#FakeNews on steroids!”

Unlike former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law, however, the new Republican bill would not guarantee coverage for people living with pre-existing conditions. Instead, the Graham-Cassidy plan would disproportionately harm sick people and Americans living with a variety of medical factors, who could see their insurance costs soar if the legislation were to pass.

The bill would allow states to opt to waive Obamacare rules requiring basic health benefits, essentially cutting protections for sick people in an effort to keep premiums from rising. The waivers allow states to charge more for health insurance offered to people with pre-existing conditions—including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s (or dementia), cerebral palsy and even pregnancy, among other medical factors that could have resulted in denied coverage prior to Obamacare—while continuing to receive federal block grant funding.

Experts say the bill could raise health care costs for those with pre-existing conditions to a point where insurance would be virtually unaffordable for millions of people.

The Graham-Cassidy plan would allow states to more easily gut protections for sick people than the previous Senate bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, as well as the House’s failed effort, the American Health Care Act. The earlier Senate bill would have let states request a reduction from the federal government in what was considered “essential health benefits,” while the House bill would have allowed states to charge more for people living with certain pre-existing conditions when searching for insurance.

The new bill—seen by House Majority Leader Paul Ryan as “our best, last chance” to repeal Obamacare—has received criticism from the even health care industry, which said it would damage existing benefits and do little to reduce insurance premiums that continue to tick upward for millions of Americans.

“The Graham-Cassidy plan would take health insurance coverage away from millions of people, eliminate critical public health funding, devastate the Medicaid program, increase out-of-pocket costs and weaken or eliminate protections for people living with pre-existing conditions,” Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Democrats are warning that if a sudden vote on the legislation is held before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) can issue a full report on it, there could be serious implications for years to come.

“Thus far, every version of Republicans’ effort to repeal and replace the ACA has meant higher health costs, millions of hard-working Americans pushed off coverage, and key protections gutted with devastating consequences for those with pre-existing conditions,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter Monday to CBO Director Keith Hall. “A comprehensive CBO analysis is essential before Republicans force a hasty, dangerous vote on what is an extreme and destructive repeal bill.”

So, while those with pre-existing conditions wouldn’t have their insurance suddenly ripped away, the Graham-Cassidy plan could make it increasingly difficult for sick Americans to afford any insurance at all. Until the CBO is able to fully assess the latest Republican-led attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system, the bill’s total impact will remain unknown.

[Newsweek]

Reality

The key section lies in the bill’s rules for state waivers from many regulations in the Affordable Care Act (starting at page 8 in the bill.) If a state says it “intends to maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions,” then it can allow insurance companies to charge sick people more than healthy ones.

Trump Just Picked a Dumb Fight with Mitch McConnell

Even as the Trump White House continues to calibrate the right response to the news that North Korea may have miniaturized a nuclear weapon, President Donald Trump started a very public fight with the most powerful Republican in the Senate.

“Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so,” Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”

That Trump tweet came just hours after this one from White House social media director — and Trump confidant — Dan Scavino Jr.: “More excuses. @SenateMajLdr must have needed another 4 years – in addition to the 7 years — to repeal and replace Obamacare…”

Scavino added a link to his tweet of a video of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking at an event in Kentucky on Tuesday — which is what started this all up.

“Our new President, of course, has not been in this line of work before,” said McConnell, according to a local CNN affiliate, which covered the event. “I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”
McConnell’s criticism — Trump is a newbie in politics and doesn’t totally get that things move incrementally even in the best of times — seems relatively mild especially compared to Scavino’s response. It’s also a criticism that plenty of Democrats leveled at then-President Barack Obama in the early days of his presidency.

The simple fact is that McConnell was always skeptical that there were 50 votes for any sort of health care overhaul. It’s why he tried to fast-walk the legislation before the July 4 congressional recess so he could move on to tax reform, where he’s said there’s more opportunity for a win.

But, even after McConnell was forced to delay that vote, he continued to push for passage of some sort of health care bill — ultimately coming up a single vote short. It was a swing and miss to be sure, but not, as far as I can tell, as a result of anything McConnell left on the field — which is the clear implication in Trump and Scavino’s tweets.
Beyond the overreaction, what baffles me is whether Trump did this in a fit of pique or whether there was some sort of intentionality or strategy behind it. For the life of me, I can’t figure that one out.

Remember that for everything that Trump wants going forward — tax reform, funding for the border wall, maybe even another shot at health care — he needs McConnell. Badly.  And despite the health care setback, McConnell still inspires considerable loyalty among his colleagues.

Picking a fight with someone: a) you need to get things done and b) people look up to, seems to me to be the essence of playing dumb politics. Maybe Trump (and Scavino) have some sort of grand plan here I don’t see. Always possible! But from where I sit, this was a needless fight to pick that could have decidedly negative consequences on the Trump’s agenda in the future.

[CNN]

1 2 3