The Senate’s three tools on health care: Sabotage, speed and secrecy

June 10, 2017, The Washington Post, Andy Slavitt- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had a problem when the American Health Care Act arrived from the House last month. What to do with a bill that is clogging your agenda but only 8 percent of Americans want you to pass and members of your own caucus swore was dead on arrival? McConnell couldn’t have missed the town halls filled with angry Americans who rely on Medicaid and see the Affordable Care Act’s protections for those with preexisting conditions as a godsend. The House bill - which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would cause 23 million to lose coverage and end those protections for many - threatened all of that.

If Insurance Market Crashes, Can Lawmakers Put The Pieces Back Together?

June 8, 2017, Kaiser Health News, Julie Rovner- In his high-stakes strategy to overhaul the federal health law, President Donald Trump is threatening to upend the individual health insurance market with several key policies. But if the market actually breaks, could anyone put it back together again? The question is more than theoretical. The Trump administration has already acted to depress enrollment in Affordable Care Act plans, has instructed the IRS to back off enforcement of the requirement that most people have health insurance or pay a penalty and threatened to withhold billions of dollars owed to insurance companies. All of those actions make it more difficult for insurers to enroll the healthy people needed to offset the costs of the sick who make it a priority to have coverage.

Senate GOP paves way for ObamaCare repeal bill

June 8, 2017, The Hill, Jordain Carney- Senate Republicans are paving the way for legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fast-tracked the House bill on Thursday, placing it on the Senate calendar and allowing it - as had been expected - to skip over the committee process. Senate Republicans are writing their own proposal, but will use the House bill as a shell to get their bill through the upper chamber. McConnell’s move will allow him to bring up the legislation quickly once Republicans are ready to vote.

Report suggests Medicaid is a lifeline for many Mississippi children in rural areas

June 7, 2017, MS News Now, Courtney Ann Jackson- Over half the Mississippians on Medicaid are children. They’re also the cheapest to cover and a new study shows Medicaid serves as a lifeline for those families, especially in rural areas. More than half of Mississippi’s children in small towns and rural areas are covered by Medicaid. Those numbers have gone up in recent years. “It’s what’s typically known as the welcome mat effect,” explained Roy Mitchell, Mississippi Health Advocacy Program Executive Director. “The fact that the ACA was rolled out and there was a lot of outreach around the ACA, families in rural areas were reached by feds and the state and health advocates.”

GOP Medicaid Cuts Hit Rural America Hardest, Report Finds

June 7, 2017, Kaiser Health News, Phil Galewitz- Rural America carried President Donald Trump to his election night upset last November. Trump Country it may be, but rural counties and small towns also make up Medicaid Country - those parts of the nation whose low-income children and families are most dependent on the federal-state health insurance program, according to a report released Wednesday. Medicaid’s enrollment has swollen to more than 72 million in recent years, and the ranks of uninsured Americans has fallen to 9 percent in 2015 from 13 percent in 2013. That’s largely due to the Affordable Care Act, which allowed states to expand Medicaid eligibility with federal funds. Thirty-one states plus the District of Columbia did so.

Not just for the poor: The crucial role of Medicaid in America’s health care system

June 7, 2017, The Conversation, Simon Haeder- Despite many assertions to the contrary, Senate leaders are now saying they want to vote on the replacement bill for Obamacare before the month is out. Front and center is the planned transformation of America’s Medicaid program, which covers 20 percent of Americans and provides the backbone of America’s health care system. As a professor of public policy, I have written extensively about the American health care system and the Affordable Care Act. Living in West Virginia, perhaps the nation’s poorest state, I have also seen the benefits of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion since 2014. To understand how the ACHA’s proposed changes to Medicaid would affect people and our health care system, let’s look more closely at the program.