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March 27, 2017

All eyes are on the Trump administration's next moves on health care, including a decision on the pending lawsuit over cost-sharing reduction payments, as plans prepare to file claims for the 2018 policy year amid increasing uncertainty following collapse of the House GOP's repeal-and-replace bill Friday (March 24).

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Senate health committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said Congress should still do whatever it can to fix the individual marketplaces despite the House's failure to move its health care bill, especially in states at risk of having few or no health insurance choices for the 2018 policy year.

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The HHS Office of Inspector General is reviewing the Trump administration's decision to halt ACA marketing in the final week of the 2017 open enrollment period, Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (WA) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) disclosed Friday (March 24). Obama administration officials say the lack of outreach at one of the most crucial times in the enrollment process, plus confusion over President Donald Trump's Jan. 20 Executive Order asking agencies to ease burdens under the ACA, likely resulted in at least half a million fewer enrollees signing up by the Jan. 31 deadline than had been expected.

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March 24, 2017

FDA drug center head Janet Woodcock told Inside Health Policy that her recent statement on the impact of proposed changes to the Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA), which appeared to go against previous HHS statements, was directed solely at a subset of pediatric orphan diseases.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), after pulling the American Health Care Act from the floor Friday (March 24), said tools such as reinsurance or high-risk pools will not be as successful without the bill, though there are still things HHS Secretary Tom Price can do to stabilize the market.

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Now that the American Health Care Act has failed on the House floor, the big question is what the Affordable Care Act under HHS Secretary Tom Price and CMS Administrator Seema Verma will look like and whether states that made moves toward expanding Medicaid will now do so, policy analysts and consultants said.

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As Republicans prepared to vote on the American Health Care Act, industry groups and other stakeholders increasingly came out against the bill.

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After GOP leadership abruptly pulled the American Health Care Act minutes before a scheduled House floor vote Friday, Energy & Commerce Chair Greg Walden (R-OR) told reporters that his committee won't rewrite the bill and will instead move on to tackle issues associated with the exchange market and reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program and Federally Qualified Health Centers.

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The Democratic whip’s office has counted 37 Republicans confirmed as opposed to the American Health Care Act, an aide told Inside Health Policy, amid speculation on Capitol Hill that today's floor vote could be pulled.

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The Congressional Budget Office estimates that medical malpractice legislation, which is part of Republicans’ plan to handle a raft of health care reform bills separately from budget reconciliation, would reduce the deficit by $50 billion, and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that four additional bills in that legislative package would modestly reduce the deficit, lower health care costs and increase coverage.

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The House will have four hours to debate Republicans’ American Health Care Act after which they’ll vote on it without an opportunity to offer amendments, according to the rule of debate that the House Rules Committee passed Friday morning (March 24).

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March 23, 2017

Pressed by President Donald Trump, House Republicans will hold a vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) Friday despite continued uncertainty over whether concessions offered by the White House Thursday (March 23) will sway enough Freedom Caucus and moderate GOP lawmakers to vote yes.

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Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) tells Inside Health Policy that the GOP will amend the GOP health care bill to keep the extra Medicare tax on wealthier enrollees for six years.

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A White House spokesperson recently suggested that the AHCA Patient and State Stability Fund -- initially set at $100 billion over a decade but to be increased by $15 billion as a result of last-minute talks on the GOP bill -- could be used to help residents in states like Alaska with significantly higher health costs than others.

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The Congressional Budget Office says changes to tax and Medicaid provisions in the revised American Health Care Act would bring savings from the original bill down from $337 billion over 10 years to $150 billion over that same time frame, with effects on health insurance coverage and premiums similar to those of the initial bill.

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Two lobbies representing Medicaid managed care plans have both come out against the GOP's American Health Care Act over concerns that changes to Medicaid would threaten their ability to cover the most vulnerable Americans.

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House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) told reporters that he and his caucus are still trying to “get to yes,” shortly after leadership announced the expected vote on the American Health Care Act would be delayed at least a day as Republicans scramble to shore up the needed votes.

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A senior GOP aide said a House vote on the American Health Care Act would not take place Thursday as originally planned, and said lawmakers will have a better idea on the timing of the vote come Friday morning.

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The Freedom Caucus met with President Donald Trump at the White House today and left without a deal on the American Health Care Act, an aide to Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-NC) told Inside Health Policy.

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 The American Academy of Actuaries told congressional leaders Wednesday (March 22) that scrapping Obamacare's essential health benefits, as sought by conservative Republicans in last-minute negotiations with President Donald Trump to lower the price of insurance, might not significantly lower overall costs and would increase premiums for consumers seeking those benefits.

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