In the latest proposal to stall Obamacare’s mandate that all Americans have health insurance, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has scheduled a Friday vote to tie it to the permanent “doc fix.”
The vote is on a bipartisan, bicameral proposal to repeal and replace the broken sustainable growth rate formula used to determine Medicare payments made to physicians. That proposal — also known as the permanent doc fix — has stalled as Congress searches for a way to pay for its $138 billion price tag.
GOP Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas is the sponsor of the House version of the bill, which carries a delay of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate as its pay-for.
Delaying the individual mandate by one year would save $9 billion, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. That’s because fewer people would have health insurance or enroll in Medicaid, saving the government billions of dollars as fewer people seek subsidies for insurance premiums or get care at all.
How long of a delay the legislation calls for in order to cover the cost of the permanent doc fix has yet to be announced. But the proposal is sure to be vetoed by the president if not shot down in the Senate.
Tying the SGR talks to the individual mandate further slows the negotiations on how to pay for the proposal, which had the American Medical Association in Washington last week to pressure congressional leadership to get it done.
If Congress does not reach agreement on the permanent doc fix by March 31, physicians who provide services to Medicare beneficiaries face a 20 percent pay cut.
Passing the legislation would be a big achievement for Congress, which has voted every year since 2003 to stop the cuts to doctors’ pay that are mandated to take effect by SGR formula at a cost of roughly $150 billion. The permanent fix carries a lower price tag than in previous years, which is why key stakeholders such as the AMA and policymakers involved in the negotiations had been positive about the potential for a long-term solution.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."