It is a function of some things they’ve come to prioritize about the individual health-insurance market and Medicaid, and some things they’ve learned about the intricacies of the Byrd rule and Senate procedural constraints.
.. After seven years of saying they want to repeal and replace Obamacare, congressional Republicans have been forced to confront the fact that many of them, perhaps most, actually don’t quite want to do that.
.. That doesn’t mean that most of them never did. The case for repeal was strongest in the three or four years between the enactment and implementation of Obamacare. As more time passes since the beginning of implementation three and a half years ago, and more people’s lives become intertwined with the program for good and bad, the case for addressing Obamacare’s immense deficiencies by repeal weakens
.. I still think it is very much the case that the cause of good policy (almost regardless of your priorities in health care) would be better served by a repeal and replacement, with appropriate transition measures, than by this sort of tinkering — you’d get more coverage, a better health-financing system, and a more appropriate role for government.
.. The president has been an additional unpredictable political constraint — as the more coherent of his musings on health care have all suggested he is not comfortable with repealing and replacing the law, or at least is unfamiliar with the tradeoffs involved and unhappy when he learns about them.
.. But another thing Republicans have learned in these six months is that Donald Trump is an exceptionally weak president, probably the weakest of their lifetimes, and he is likely to accept whatever they do. He’ll celebrate it, sitting himself front and center while they stand around him awkwardly. He’ll praise it wildly and inaccurately. And he’ll sign it — even if pretty soon thereafter, in the wake of bad press, he tries to distance himself from it on Twitter and calls them names.
.. It is pegged to a less comprehensive insurance model and will both cost less and leave more room for more variation in insurance design — though this obviously means it will be less valuable and helpful to some of the people now getting subsidies.
.. Where today, people newly covered by Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion (who tend to be childless adults with relatively higher incomes than the non-expansion population) are funded by the federal government on much better terms than the traditional Medicaid population (which tends to include more women with children and people with even lower incomes), the Senate bill would gradually equalize funding for the two groups, effectively shifting Medicaid’s focus back to the most vulnerable of its beneficiaries.
.. the Senate bill would provide an income and age-based subsidy that would allow these lowest-income individuals to afford at least modest insurance coverage in the individual market.
.. the Senate bill as written would probably mean that Medicaid would cost the federal government about 30 percent more ten years from now than it does today (as opposed to about 65 percent more under current law), and would cover something like the same number of people at that point as today (as opposed to 10 million more under current law)
.. once states got their bearings about just how much it would allow them to do, we could see some genuinely different approaches to health-insurance regulation among the different states — with blue and red models, rural and urban approaches, and more and less competitive systems.
.. alters a portion of a broader pre-existing statute. But it is very broad. In its scope and structure, this redesigned waiver would be unlike anything else in American federalism — which also means we don’t know how it would work. Those of us inclined to look favorably upon a bottom-up, experimental mindset in policy design will be inclined to think the best of the possibilities here.
.. it looks like this provision would render any insurer who offers an individual-market plan that covers abortion in a given state ineligible to benefit from the stability fund in that state. It seems to me, though I can’t say I’m sure, that this would effectively mean that no insurance plans in the individual market would cover abortion. It could easily even mean that California, which has a state law requiring individual-market plans to cover elective abortion, would have to repeal that law or else forgo access to the stability fund.