window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-29484371-30');
Monday , December 9 2019
EPCON_2020 728
Utep Football Generic 728
West Texas Test Drive 728
STEP 728
Rugby Coming Soon 728
Amy’s Ambassadorship
Mountains 728
Rhinos 2019/2020 728
McDonalds BBall 2019 728
High Desert 728
Darrington Park 728
Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
Home | Tag Archives: obamacare

Tag Archives: obamacare

Federal Judge Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional, Handing Texas an Early Win

In a ruling that could throw the nation’s health care system into chaos, Fort Worth-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor on Friday ruled that a major provision of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional — and that the rest of the landmark law must fall as well.

In February, a Texas-led coalition of 20 states sued the federal government to end the health care law in its entirety, arguing that after Congress in December 2017 gutted one of its major provisions, the rest of the law was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the law because its individual mandate — a financial penalty for not having insurance — could be interpreted as a tax. But after Congress set that tax at $0, the Texas coalition claimed the rest of the law no longer had “constitutional cover.”

O’Connor sided with Texas, ruling that the individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional. That portion of the law, he argued, is not severable from other provisions, and so the rest of the law must fall.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton cheered the decision in a statement.

“All Americans will again have greater choice about what health coverage they need and who will be their doctor,” the Republican said.

O’Connor’s ruling comes a day before the deadline to enroll in a health plan through the insurance exchange created under the law.

That could cause unnecessary confusion for consumers, said Stacey Pogue, a health care expert with the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities.

“But that confusion or anxiety shouldn’t stop people from signing up who need health care,” Pogue said. “This is just the very first step. The lawsuit will go on for a very long time. Open enrollment ends tomorrow.”

A White House statement said that the law will remain in place pending the appeals process.

A counter-coalition of states led by California, which stepped in to argue the case when the federal government sided partially with Texas, panned the decision.

A spokeswoman said the California Attorney General’s Office will immediately appeal.

“Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA’s consumer protections for healthcare, on America’s faithful progress toward affordable healthcare for all Americans,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court. Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans.”

Rob Henneke, general counsel for the Texas Public Policy Foundation and an attorney on the Texas side of the case, described the ruling as “a historic win.”

“Obamacare’s been broken long before it was struck down by the court,” Henneke said in an interview Friday evening. “It’s time to now work toward solutions that can actually provide health care, doctor choice and affordability for Americans.”

Henneke added that the case is likely to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. The coalition’s suit was filed on behalf plaintiffs who said they were burdened by Obamacare

This is not Texas’ first lawsuit targeting Obama’s signature health care law, though it is the most sweeping. The lawsuit, which now involves most states in the country on one side or another, also has emerged as a political issue in dozens of states. If successful, the lawsuit would end Obamacare’s protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions like diabetes or asthma — a group of about 130 million people across the nation. Democrats have focused on that provision, arguing that their conservative foes are failing to protect the country’s most vulnerable.

Legal scholars — even some conservatives who oppose the law — have nonetheless called Texas’ argument unconvincing.

The argument that the whole law should be doomed by problems with one provision is “a massive stretch,” Ilya Somin, a constitutional scholar at George Mason University who filed an amicus brief in the case, told The Tribune in August.

Some have pointed to O’Connor as an advantageous decider for Texas. An appointee of President George W. Bush, O’Connor has ruled against Obamacare several times and is perhaps best known for for blocking Obama-era guidelines directing public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

Timothy Jost, an emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University who has studied Obamacare and its legal battles extensively, called Friday’s ruling “an ideological opinion” that is “unmoored in law.”

“This is breathtaking in its sweep, and I think O’Connor has no idea what he’s doing,” Jost said Friday. “This is going to get thrown out. But I also think it’s timed to cause maximum chaos.”

Author: EMMA PLATOFF –  The Texas Tribune

Groups Rally to Help Texans Get Health Coverage Before Saturday Deadline

AUSTIN – To enroll for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Texans must sign up at by no later than this Saturday.

Stacey Pogue, senior policy analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said community organizations across the state have experts standing by to help people understand their options. She added that if you miss the deadline, you could have to wait another full year to sign up.

“Most people can go to the health-insurance marketplace and, when they enroll, they’ll pay $75 a month for coverage, or less,” she said. “It depends on your income, but most people are going to be able to find a plan that costs them less than their cell-phone bill.”

Pogue said 85 percent of Texans who signed up for ACA coverage in 2018 received financial assistance to help buffer the costs of premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Earlier this year, the Trump administration cleared the way for individuals to buy short-term plans, which can cost far less than traditional plans but also cover less.

Pogue said some short-term plans are cheaper up front, but could end up costing consumers more in the long term.

“But they’re cheaper for a reason,” she said. “You get what you pay for with those plans; the consumer should be really cautious. And those plans have a bunch of ‘gotchas’ and loopholes, that mean care that you might need next year won’t be covered.”

For many people who qualify for financial assistance under the Affordable Care Act, she said, monthly premiums for full-coverage plans could end up costing less than short-term plans. Pogue said it’s important to shop around to get the best deal.

“I don’t mean go site to site to site, like check Amazon and Walmart and Target,” she said. “I mean, go to one website, and on it, there will be several plans. has several plans, but it’s the only place you can go and get that subsidy.”

After Saturday, Pogue said, a person only can get coverage if they experience a “qualifying life event,” such as getting married or losing their current health insurance. Help is available at

Author: Eric Galatas – Public News Service 

Feds Grant Texas $25 Billion Extension of Medicaid Waiver

AUSTIN – Health care providers in Texas are getting a $25 billion shot in the arm with the five-year extension of a Medicaid program by the federal government.

The plan, known as an 1115 Demonstration Waiver is considered a low-cost alternative to traditional Medicaid.

It provides hospitals and other caregivers with incentives to improve care access and quality, and helps pay for uncompensated care.

Stacy Wilson, president of Children’s Hospital Association of Texas, says since Texas chose not to expand full Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the waiver extends coverage to many low-income patients who might otherwise go without.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to continue the waiver because, number one, we’ve seen a lot of improvement in outcomes and lowering the cost of care,” she states. “And number two, it helps shore up our safety net hospitals, like our children’s hospitals, who are so heavily reliant on Medicaid.”

The Obama administration originally approved the 1115 waiver for Texas in 2011, but it was set to expire Dec. 31.

Medicaid expansion under the ACA was meant to replace the waiver program, but some states, including Texas, declined to expand Medicaid.

The extension allows state officials to continue funding a number of health care programs without disruption.

While providers welcome the money from the waiver program, Wilson points out it isn’t a substitute for traditional Medicaid coverage.

“What we don’t get paid to cover our costs in Medicaid, we’ve become, unfortunately, reliant on these supplemental payment programs,” she states. “[We’d] Much rather be paid our costs upfront, but those are not the policy decisions some of our elected officials have made.”

Wilson says hospitals and clinics urgently need more funding to cover people who can’t afford to pay.

“One of the things that the state could do is pay us closer to our Medicaid costs,” she states. “That would help, especially children’s hospitals.

“Seventy percent of the Medicaid enrollees in Texas are children, so we are disproportionately reliant on the Medicaid program.”

The extension, which runs through 2022, apparently came just in time for Texas. Federal officials say they will not approve any more states’ requests to renew funding for waivers.
Author -Mark Richardson, Public News Service (TX)

Texas’ ACA Signups Almost Match Last Year’s Enrollment

AUSTIN – With the help of a coalition of consumer and faith-based groups, 1.1 million Texans have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for 2018.

The Cover Texas Now coalition stepped in after the Trump administration eliminated most of the funds for signup assistance and cut the open enrollment period in half.

Bee Moorhead, director of the faith-based group Impact Texas, says groups like hers, which is part of the coalition, helped people overcome many of the roadblocks to obtain subsidized coverage in the federal marketplace.

“It really is a pretty big project and so, it’s pretty impressive for Texans that, even with such a short enrollment period, we were able to come so close to matching last year’s enrollment numbers,” she states.

About 1.3 million Texans enrolled last year.

Though this year’s deadline was Dec. 15, people in counties affected by Hurricane Harvey have until Sunday, Dec. 31, to enroll, so Moorhead says final numbers could be higher.

Nationwide, almost 9 million people signed up in the 39 states that use the federal marketplace.

Numbers are still pending for states that manage their own programs.

While she is proud that the two-dozen groups in the Cover Texas Now coalition were able to boost coverage, Moorhead says she doesn’t want the government to think it can always count on private sector volunteers.

“Going forward, we need to have an understanding that the job of the faith community is to build community and to be a connector for people to the public institutions that are there to serve them, not to displace those institutions,” she states.

And despite the enrollment numbers, she says Texas in 2018 will continue to have the highest rate of uninsured people in the country.

“It is heartbreaking to the faith communities in the state that so many Texans don’t get the health care they need because they don’t have health insurance,” she says. “We’ve been the worst state since they started keeping data about it.”

Moorhead adds people needing marketplace coverage will continue to face uncertainty, as Congressional Republicans have vowed to continue efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Author: Mark Richardson – Texas News Service

More Texans May be Left Without Health Insurance After End of Open Enrollment

Open enrollment for health care under former President Barack Obama’s health care law ends Dec. 15, and while current Texas enrollment numbers are up from this time last year, new restrictions under the Trump administration may mean more uninsured Texans.

Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals who are not insured through an employer can buy plans through the federal government during the open enrollment period. In 2016, that period ran from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31 — but this year, it’s been cut in half to end Friday, Dec. 15.

While several states opted to extend the enrollment period, Texas, which runs its services through the federal webpage, did not.

Texas has seen 437,919 enrollees for the 2018 plan year as of Dec. 2, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — a 38.8 percent increase in enrollment when compared to this time last year. But that’s not much of a comfort to organizations trying to get more people enrolled.

“We only have half as much time to enroll people,” said Melissa McChesney, an outreach coordinator at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank. “So we would have to be doing significantly better than we are right now in order to avoid a dip in enrollment numbers overall.”

“There is concern that we will see fewer Texans enroll in the marketplace, and that’s primarily because of the shortened enrollment period, and that does mean we are likely to see a higher number of uninsured Texans for 2018,” McChesney added.

Last year, a total of 1.2 million Texans bought insurance during the enrollment period, about one-sixth of whom were automatically enrolled after not changing their coverage from the previous year, McChesney said.

Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care nonprofit, said that in previous years enrollment has surged just before Dec. 15.

“Most people last year, in all the states, signed up by Dec. 15 even though open enrollment went all the way until the end of January because if you want coverage to begin on Jan. 1, that was the deadline,” Pollitz said.

However, shortening the window to enroll is not the only cut made by the Trump administration affecting Texans trying to buy health insurance.

The administration cut the budget for outreach and advertising by 90 percent and slashed funding to the navigator program, in which someone walks potential buyers through the process, by 60 percent. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act said these cuts have led to a decrease in awareness about the enrollment period.

Drew White, a health care policy expert at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, said these restrictions were the administration’s attempts to roll back aspects of the law within their power.

“We don’t believe there is a whole lot they can do,” White said, referring to the president’s executive powers. “Congress is going to have to be the one to repeal the statutes when it comes to the regulations or to roll back the Medicaid expansion, that’s just going to be out of their purview.”

“Congress should have made good on its promise and repealed Obamacare this year as they have been promising for seven, eight years prior to that,” White said. “It’s just unfortunate because consumers are going to see their premiums and deductibles go up with fewer and fewer options as long as federal insurance regulations remain in statute.”

While it hasn’t been heavily publicized, Pollitz said there will be a special enrollment period through the end of December for people who are living in or have moved out of hurricane-affected areas. People wishing to enroll during this period will have to do so over the phone, she added.

“I think everybody, CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services], the navigators, the other people who help folks sign up really, really want the message to be, ‘Sign up by Dec. 15. That is the best way to do it,’” Pollitz said. “Some people will need more time, or miss it, and will have this opportunity.”

In Congress, Republicans are promising to pass a new tax code by Christmas, and the current U.S. Senate plan includes a repeal of the portion of the ACA that requires all individuals to have health insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan congressional analysis organization, estimates that if the individual mandate is repealed, 13 million Americans will lose their health insurance in the next 10 years and that plans will have higher premiums as younger, healthier individuals opt to go without coverage.

McChesney said even if it’s repealed, the individual mandate would still be in effect until 2019.

“It’s important that people understand, who are considering purchasing ACA insurance right now, that they are still subject to the mandate and could potentially face a tax penalty if they go uninsured in 2018,” she said.

Disclosure: The Center for Public Policy Priorities, Kaiser Family Foundation and Texas Public Policy Foundation have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Texas is pushing the federal government for temporary funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program while Congress fights over a permanent solution. [Full story]
  • Open enrollment for health insurance, which begins Nov. 1, will be shorter this year, and President Donald Trump has slashed funding for subsidies and outreach. [Full story]
  • Watch the video of our event in Houston on the health care landscape following Hurricane Harvey, or check out our recap below. [Full story]

Author: CLAIRE ALLBRIGHT – The Texas Tribune

Video: Cornyn – Democrats Refuse to Help Fix Health Care Mess They Created

Wednesday on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) invited his Democratic colleagues to join the effort to provide relief for the millions of Americans hurt by the Affordable Care Act.

Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video of his remarks can be found above.

“Yesterday, we took a giant step toward delivering on our promise to the American people to provide relief from the failures of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

“Over the last seven years, we have discussed what our solution would look like. And everybody who has been willing to participate in that conversation – sadly, not our Democratic colleagues who simply refused to do so – but every member of our conference is engaged in discussions and had input on how best to accomplish the goal of providing people affordable coverage, increased access, market stability, and better care.

“You know, we can talk about all of the details, but basically, what this boils down to is how do we provide people with access to quality, affordable health care?”

“What we’ve tried to do on this side of the aisle, and we’ve repeatedly invited our Democratic colleagues to join us because, optimally, this would be a bipartisan effort, but so far they’ve refused to participate whatsoever and really are focused solely on trying to blow up the current process.”

“I know members have a lot of ideas about how to fix the mess that Obamacare has left us, but that was precisely why it was so important for us to get on the bill yesterday, so members on both sides of the aisle can offer amendments and share their ideas.”

“Last night we began the process of considering amendments, including one from my colleague in Texas, Senator Cruz, who has a plan to provide people who choose a lower-cost premium insurance product the opportunity to do so as long as the state also requires a comprehensive plan as well. This is something ideal for many people who want an insurance safety net but don’t necessarily want their health insurance to pay for their regular medical expenses or doctor visits.”

“People keep talking about a secret process. Well, this is about as open and transparent as it gets, and everybody will have an opportunity to offer an amendment, to discuss what’s in the amendment, and to vote on it.”

Amistad Not Impacted by Trump Decision to End ACA Enrollment Assistance in 18 U.S. Cities

Amistad’s Consumer Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Services (CHIMES) will not be impacted by a Trump Administration decision to end health insurance enrollment assistance under provisions of the Affordable Care Act of 2013 in 18 U.S. cities including El Paso.

“We will continue to provide the same enrollment services that we’ve been providing since the health care law was implemented in 2013,” said Marisol Vela, Amistad’s CHIMES Lead Navigator. “Persons who wish to access health insurance plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace may continue to count on us to provide enrollment help for the foreseeable future,” she said.

Under its contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Amistad will continue to provide enrollment assistance, public outreach and education services through 2018 to 23 counties in Far West Texas including El Paso County.

The termination of assistance services applies to assister programs administered by private companies including Cognosante, LLC and CRSA, Inc.

Amistad, a non-profit social services and transportation agency, is a Navigator Program that is not included in the Trump Administration’s move to terminate enrollment assistance services across the U.S.

Open enrollment for 2018 coverage will commence on November 1, 2017 and conclude on December 15, 2017.

For information, consumers may contact Amistad at 915-298-7307.

AARP: Senate-Health Care ‘Fix’ Doesn’t Work for Older Texans

AUSTIN – Advocates for Texas seniors warn that if the U.S. Senate passes the new health care plan revealed on Thursday, it could be both a financial and health disaster for older Texans.

AARP predicts the bill, which could be voted on as early as next week, would raise annual health premiums for 50 to 64-year-olds as much as $20,000, five times the regular rate.

It also cuts Medicaid, on which more than half of Texas nursing home residents depend.

AARP Texas State Director Bob Jackson says Senate Republicans are asking the wrong questions in their attempt to “fix health care.”

“The first thing you’ve got to do is get a strong sense of, ‘Did the current law cause those costs to go up or, frankly, did the cost of health care cause them to go up?’” he states. “Because there’s a big difference there. Did the law create the problem, or is the health care system just getting more and more expensive?”

Republican leaders updated the plan to address some senators’ concerns, but not all of them. The biggest change would allow insurers to sell so-called bare bones policies that don’t meet the basic coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

The Congressional Budget Office is set to release its report on the proposal on Monday.

Jackson says AARP and other groups are appealing directly to Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, urging him to make sure the health care plan helps Texans – or to vote “no” if it doesn’t.

“If you only make decisions around health care about how somebody’s going to make a profit, then you’ve already started in the wrong place,” Jackson stresses. “You need to start in the place that says, ‘How do we, the most efficiently, get the best care we can to everybody?'”

Jackson says other concerns about the health proposal include reviving the ban on covering pre-existing conditions, and a return to lifetime caps on insurance coverage.

GOP leaders need 50 votes to pass a plan, but as of Thursday, at least half-dozen senators still voiced objections to parts of it.

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service (TX)

NM Group Slams Obamacare Replacement Bill Ahead of Senate Debate

ALBUQUERQUE – Senate GOP leaders won’t return to Washington, D. C., until Monday to renew debate on the replacement for Obamacare. That hasn’t stopped opponents of the proposed bill from protesting, in New Mexico and cities across the country.

In Albuquerque last week, Bill Jordan with New Mexico Voices for Children – the group’s senior policy advisor and government relations officer – joined Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., at an outdoor news conference at the University of New Mexico.

According to Jordan, 300,000 New Mexico children now rely on Medicaid for health care because the state has been very successful in implementing Obamacare.

“We’ve done better than almost any state,” Jordan told the crowd, “and this bill would hurt us more than almost any other state.”

New Mexico is one of eight states with a “trigger” law to automatically undo the Obamacare Medicaid expansion if there’s any reduction in federal financial support. In order to shoulder a larger share of health-care costs for low-income residents, Jordan said the state would need to implement substantial tax increases or slash other essential state services.

He pointed out that New Mexico’s Medicaid services have already been trimmed due to the state’s 2017 budget woes. So, while other, wealthier states might be able to pick up some Medicaid costs to offset the loss of federal dollars, New Mexico isn’t one of them.

As he put it, “These are kids whose families have no other option for health care. There is nothing else. There is no other payer source.”

Jordan added that more than 70 percent of births reported in the state are paid for by Medicaid.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated nationwide, 22 million more Americans would be without insurance in 10 years if the Senate bill is passed in its current form.

Author:  Roz Brown -Public News Service (NM)

Sen. Cornyn Statement on Senate GOP Health Care Reform Plan

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) released the following statement after Senate Republicans released a discussion draft of legislation to replace what he characterized as the ‘failed Affordable Care Act (ACA)’:

“After years of debate, hearings, and stories from folks harmed by Obamacare, today is a critical step towards delivering on our promise to provide the relief Texans so desperately need.

Our plan will help lower skyrocketing costs, protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and ensure Medicaid is there for the Texans who need it most. Under this plan, gone are the days where people are forced to buy insurance they don’t want and can’t afford.  

“The time to close the book on Obamacare is now. Our plan will help deliver access to better care at a price the American people can actually afford.”


Protects Texans’ Access to Health Coverage

  • Safeguards Medicaid for the Texans who need it most.
  • Preserves access to care for Texans with pre-existing conditions.

Provides More Options for Texas Patients

  • Will help boost options for the approximately 1.5 million Texans who buy their insurance on the individual market, which will be especially helpful for Texans in the 88 counties (one out of every three in Texas) that currently offer only one insurance option.
  • Repeals the employer mandate penalty, which means employers will be able to offer employees more choices at a lower cost, helping the 48% of Texans who receive health insurance through work.

Makes Care More Affordable for Texans

  • Slows down sky-rocketing premiums, which Texans have seen go up 82% in the past 4 years alone.
  • Provides tax credits to help low-income Texans living below the federal poverty line – 4 million of whom receive no help under current law — afford health care.
  • Repeals the health insurance tax, which drives up premium costs, and repeals the tax on individuals who choose not to buy insurance.
  • Increases funds for Texas’ first-class hospitals that serve low-income patients who don’t have insurance.
  • Increases Medicaid funding for those struggling with mental illness.
  • Provides new funding to combat opioid abuse. 4 of the 25 U.S. cities with the highest rates of opioid abuse are in Texas.

On the Senate floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) spoke about the discussion draft of legislation introduced by Senate Republicans to replace the failing Affordable Care Act.  Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video of his remarks can be downloaded here.

 “We’ll have a process next week whereby any Senator who has an amendment to the bill has an absolute right to file that amendment.”

 “I can’t imagine a more transparent and open process than put it on the internet, invite people’s comments and discussion, and then have an open amendment process following debate, and then vote.”

 “This, I believe, is a framework for better care. But we’re going to continue to discuss this plan and talk to anyone who is willing to talk to us and work with us. If there is a way the bill can be strengthened, I am open to it. But the status quo isn’t working, and our Democratic colleagues know it.”

CBO Report: 23 Million to Lose Coverage Under AHCA

AUSTIN, Texas – The Congressional Budget Office says 23 million Americans would lose their health insurance by 2026 if the American Health Care Act becomes law. Some 14 million of those 23 million would lose coverage because of plans to cut Medicaid by $884 billion.

Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser with the Bipartisan Policy Center, says states including Texas would have a hard time making up for a loss of federal Medicaid dollars.

“Kids, seniors, people with disabilities, low-income people lose their benefits,” he says. “I think we’d see hospitals have their ERs flooded again with patients who are not paying. It would obviously have a negative impact on the economy.”

The CBO predicts the uninsured rate would increase from 10 percent to close to 18 percent in the next decade. Texas already has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country.

The AHCA narrowly passed in the U.S. House earlier this month. Some Senate Republicans have promised that Medicaid recipients would be protected under the new law.

The CBO says the Republican plan could lower premiums by four to 20 percent by 2026. Slavitt notes those reductions would come at the expense of rising costs for low-income people as well as those with pre-existing conditions.

The plan also has a so-called “age tax,” which means Texans and others aged 50 to 64 would pay much higher premiums.

“Under the new law, if it were to pass, people who were in that age group would be able to be charged five times as much for insurance as younger people – in some cases, as much as $7,000 of additional costs to get covered,” he adds.

Proponents of the plan argue that block-granting Medicaid funds to states would spark innovative solutions. Slavitt disagrees.

“This really is about the federal government saving money – cutting the money that they give to states for care, and then taking that money and turning around and providing a tax break to very high-income people, the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies,” he explains.

The CBO estimates the Republican bill could cut the federal deficit by $119 billion in 10 years.

The Congressional Budget Office says 23-million Americans would lose their health insurance by 2026 if the American Health Care Act becomes law. Mark Richardson looks at who is most at risk.

Author: Mark Richardson – Public News Service (TX)

Cornyn, Cruz, Hurd, O’Rourke Comment on Passage of American Health Care Act

After Thursday’s passage of the American Health Care Act, local and statewide representatives released statements regarding the vote.

Rep. Beto O’Rouke (via Facebook)

Today I voted against the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Like the original version of the bill, which failed to garner enough support for a vote in March, AHCA seeks to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a system of tax credits and Medicaid block grants.

In the March version of the bill we knew that:

– 81,000 fewer El Pasoans would have health care

– 2.5 million fewer Texans would have health care

– 24 million fewer Americans would have health care

– Americans would see premium increases of 15–20% in 2018 and 2019

– Millions of veterans not enrolled in the VA would lose health care

– Fewer resources would be available to combat the opioid crisis

– There would be no requirement for mental health parity

– Women’s reproductive health would be defunded

The most notable changes to this version of the bill are two amendments. First, the McArthur Amendment, which allows states to determine the minimum coverage in the health care plans they offer. Currently, the ACA requires insurers to cover a host of essential health benefits like hospital stays, mental health, and maternity care. This amendment will allow insurers to consider health status when setting prices. This will directly impact patients with pre-existing conditions and older Americans who will be charged more for coverage.

The second amendment is the Upton Amendment. It adds $8 billion over 5 years to the bill to help those with pre-existing conditions pay for their insurance and health care needs. Unfortunately that is nowhere near enough and if implemented many people will soon find it difficult to pay for their health care needs.

There has been no updated analysis of this new version of the bill because it was rushed through without an official score from the Congressional Budget Office.

I voted against the bill which passed the House by a vote of 217-213. It now goes to the Senate where it meets an uncertain fate.

Rep. Will Hurd

“Since the implementation of Obamacare, I’ve told my constituents that the only meaningful metric when it comes to healthcare is actual access to quality, affordable care – not just health insurance. While the goal of Obamacare was to make healthcare more accessible and more affordable, it has done just the opposite. Likewise, while the goal of the American Health Care Act was to combat the skyrocketing premiums and outrageous deductibles millions of Americans face, it too, falls short.

“We must provide relief, but unfortunately, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in its current form does not address the concerns of many of my constituents, including adequate protections for those with pre-existing conditions and the challenges faced by rural healthcare providers. I am unable to turn my back on these vulnerable populations because I believe we can and must do better for the American people.

“I will not support the AHCA in its current form and hope that we can continue making improvements to fix our broken healthcare system.”

Sen. John Cornyn

“Today is an important step forward in upholding our promise to give the American people relief from Obamacare,” Sen. Cornyn said. “The health care status quo is unacceptable. Premiums have skyrocketed, coverage options have disappeared, and small businesses have struggled under crushing taxes and mandates. Working alongside the Administration, making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans will continue to be our top priority and this legislation sets us on a course to achieve that.”

Sen. Ted Cruz

“Today was an important step. I am encouraged that House Republicans were able to come together and pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. The House Freedom Caucus pressed hard to reduce premiums and make health care more affordable, and their efforts, in cooperation with the entire conference, substantially improved this bill.

“Our work now goes forward in the Senate, where we should continue to improve the bill. For many weeks, I have been working closely with my Senate colleagues, from across the ideological spectrum, on consensus reforms to make health insurance more affordable. We must deliver on that promise. I am optimistic we will get the job done, and honor our commitment to provide more choices for consumers, put people in control of their healthcare, and most importantly, lower premiums.”

GOP Health Care Amendment Could Hurt Most Vulnerable In NM

SANTA FE, N.M. – President Trump and GOP members of Congress have a new twist in their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, and family advocates are more concerned than ever about the effect it would have on New Mexicans.

The “MacArthur Amendment,” named for the New Jersey Republican who negotiated it with leaders of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, is what is most troubling to Lydia Mitts, associate director of affordability initiatives in health policy at Families USA. It would mean states could obtain waivers that would allow them to opt out of providing some of the “essential health benefits” currently required by the Affordable Care Act.

“There are 826,000 people in New Mexico who have a pre-existing condition, and this new amendment would put those hundreds of thousands of people at risk,” Mitts said; “also, people guaranteed that they’ll have coverage for basic services like maternity care, prescription drugs and mental health.”

While the amendment says people who stay insured can’t be charged more for pre-existing conditions, it does allow states to create a “high-risk pool” for those who have a lapse in coverage. It is unclear how those who can’t afford to prevent interruption of their health care will be affected.

Gov. Susana Martinez has openly supported efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, while New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich along with U.S. Reps. Ben Luján and Michelle Grisham have urged the governor to oppose the American Health Care Act.

Mitts said lawmakers will be held accountable to the more than 500,000 who saw their lifetime caps on coverage lifted thanks to the Affordable Care Act, whether they enrolled in the program or not. She added that some assistance for members of New Mexico’s most vulnerable populations would be lost under this new amendment.

“Right now, over 33,000 people in New Mexico are getting help affording private insurance through financial assistance under the ACA,” Mitts said. “And under this bill, particularly New Mexicans who are older and are lower income could see that financial help cut substantially.”

The amendment satisfied hard-line conservatives who blocked the way for the AHCA to receive the 216 total votes it needed to pass the House. The plan faces even slimmer margins in the Senate before it can land on the president’s desk.

Author – Brett McPherson, Public News Service (NM)

Texas Groups Oppose Congress’ Second Try at Health Care Bill

AUSTIN – Congress could vote on a new version of the GOP’s American Health Care Act as early as this weekend, but a group of Texas health-care advocates is strongly opposing the bill. The proposal still makes insurance more expensive for older Americans, would strip an estimated 24 million people of coverage and lead to deep cuts in Medicaid.

Adriana Kohler, senior health policy associate with Texans Care for Children, believes the Republican majority in the House has managed to make an already bad health-care bill worse.

“This bill would give the option to states to take away protections for consumers, for kids, for pregnant women, for people with disabilities,” she said. “So, we strongly oppose the bill and state measures to opt into what might pass.”

The coalition, Cover Texas Now, includes advocates for children, families, patients and consumers. Kohler says the group is urging Congress to keep most parts of the current Affordable Care Act and make improvements where they’re needed.

Proponents of the changes say they’ll give states more flexibility.

Kohler says the changes proposed in the new health-care bill would make it harder for Texans who need coverage the most to get insurance.

“A new amendment to the bill would also let states strip protections for preexisting conditions,” she added. “That means insurers could discriminate and hike premiums based on your medical history.”

In her view, many of the changes would negatively affect families with kids. The bill would cut already-scarce Medicaid benefits in Texas, which Kohler says endangers both children and pregnant women.

“We urge Congress to go back to the drawing board and improve upon this plan,” said Kohler. “If you care about prenatal care or kids going to school healthy, then the Medicaid cuts for Texas in this bill are terrible news.”

President Trump has urged Congress to pass a health-care bill before his first 100 days in office are up this weekend. The original “repeal and replace” plan considered two weeks ago lacked support and was never brought up for a vote.

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service (TX)

Backers See ‘Medicare for All’ as Cure for U.S. Health Care

HOUSTON – With Republicans trying to resuscitate their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, the debate in Texas and elsewhere over how to fix the health-care system is heating up again.

While partisan divides remain deep, Glenn Pearson, former president of Physicians for a National Health Program, said the failure of the American Health Care Act presents a unique opportunity for President Trump to make good on campaign promises for more coverage and better benefits by moving beyond for-profit models.

“America is the only wealthy country in the world that has a free market, for-profit system,” Pearson said. “It treats health care as a commodity, like buying a TV. In every other country, health care is a human right.”

Pearson said the Medicare for All Act, introduced by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., would provide coverage to all Americans by expanding Medicare, the single-payer program already in place for people age 65 and older. Critics have said the move would be too costly, but research has shown most U.S. households would pay less than the current system of insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays.

Pearson, while not a fan of the ill-fated “Trumpcare” proposal, noted that the Affordable Care Act still leaves many without coverage and channels billions of taxpayer dollars to private insurance companies. He said a majority of Americans, including Republicans, support a system where money currently going to administrative overhead and private profits is spent on patient care instead.

“There would be no deductibles, no co-insurance; there would be very small co-pays,” he said, “and so nobody would ever go bankrupt because they became ill.”

Even though more people have insurance since the rollout of the ACA, Pearson said, nearly 2 million Americans go bankrupt each year because of health-care expenses. A National Day of Action calling for universal health care is set for April 8, the first day of the congressional recess.

The Conyers bill’s text is online at, and an analysis is at

High Desert 728
STEP 728
Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
McDonalds BBall 2019 728
Amy’s Ambassadorship
Utep Football Generic 728
Rhinos 2019/2020 728
West Texas Test Drive 728
Rugby Coming Soon 728
EP MediaFest 2020 728
EPCON_2020 728
Darrington Park 728
Mountains 728