Tags Posts tagged with "Healthcare"

Healthcare

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Donald Trump
"Time to show these RINOs who's boss..."

On Wednesday, speaking to GOP senators at lunch in the White House, President Trump told the lawmakers that they should postpone their August recess and stay in Washington until a plan to repeal ObamaCare is put into effect.

“We shouldn’t leave town until this is complete,” he said. “We should hammer this out and get it done.”

President Trump further stressed that that only a repeal wouldn’t be enough, and that Republicans should effectively replace ObamaCare with a new legislation.

“We can repeal, but we should repeal and replace,” he said.

“Frankly I don’t think we should leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we can give people great health care,” he continued. “Because we’re close. We’re very close.’’

Trump further claimed that any GOP senator who votes against debating on a healthcare legislation is “fine with ObamaCare.”

The president’s opening comments at the lunch were open to the media and cable television was pretty quick to broadcast them.

At times, Trump seemed to adopt a more scolding tone; reminding lawmakers of the promises they’d made while campaigning. He urged them to fulfill all their campaign promises.

“Any senator who votes against debate says you are fine with ObamaCare,” Trump said.

However, observers feel that some of the publically scolded Republican senators may not like how they’ve been blamed for the healthcare debacle. Many Republican lawmakers believe Trump himself failed to devise a proper strategy with regards to the healthcare proposal.

But, in his comments, Trump took aim at those senators, saying that they could trust him to sign a repeal bill.

“I’ve been here six months,” he stated. “I’m ready to act, pen in hand, believe me. I’m sitting in that office. I have pen in hand. You never had that before.”

Trump has previously shown his frustration with the Senate failing to deliver a much needed win on Trump’s major campaign promise: repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

The Senate, which is slated to begin its recess in the third week of August, failed to push forward a legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare, after a number of senators said that they would vote against debating the bill.

Trump’s comments on Wednesday, expressing his desire to repeal and replace Obamacare seem to have made the whole process even more confusing.

Only a day prior to the lunch at the White House, Trump said that the Congress should relax and “let ObamaCare fail.”

That too, after he took to Twitter on Monday to endorse the repeal-without-replace strategy.

“Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” he wrote.

The Wednesday lunch at the White House was only missed by three GOP senators, Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Richard Burr (N.C.) and John McCain (Az.)

Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, excused himself from the meeting, saying that he is trying not to interact with the White House due to his panel’s ongoing investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US elections. John McCain was recently diagnosed with cancer after undergoing a minor surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye.

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John McCain
Something seemed off during McCain's questioning of James Comey... was that an early sign that something was off?

Sen. John McCain has recently been diagnosed with brain cancer and the sad news had its effects on a healthcare negotiations meeting set for Wednesday night.

During the meeting, more than a dozen GOP senators were led by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) in prayers for the senator. And as the meeting ended, the senators were all concerned and praised their colleague for all he contributed.

Sen. John Hoeven said that he was “emotional and stunned” at the news. Similarly, there were many other comments including “shook” and “upset” and Sen. John Kennedy said that, “We stopped, and said a prayer for John and his family.”

One of the senator’s best friends, Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), was visibly upset and discussed the conversation he had with McCain on Wednesday. He said, “He says I’ve been through worse, so pray. …This disease has never had a more worthy opponent.”

On Wednesday night, McCain’s office officially announced that a brain tumor was found after the senator’s treatment to remove a blood clot from above his left eye. The announcement lead to offers of support and good wishes from both parties.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called McCain “a man who fought and bled and served our nation” and also praised his McCain’s after the GOP meeting. He further added, “All of us stopped. It was a sobering moment. John is someone we work with, we serve with, we respect and it is very sad news.”

McCain’s Democratic colleagues used social media to praise the senator, who is much respected by both parties.

President Obama tweeted, “cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell John.” President Obama served with Senator McCain and defeated him in the 2008 elections.

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer added, “You are a true fighter [and] I’ll be praying for you until you beat this. I know you will.”

“You are a true fighter [and] I’ll be praying for you until you beat this. I know you will,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted.

The absence of Sen. McCain due to his surgery led to the postponement of a vote on the GOP’s healthcare plan to the next week. And while the GOP’s top priority is McCain’s health, they also fear that further absence would cause further delays in signing of the legislation.

Sen. Bob Corker told reporters after the GOP meeting that everyone is extremely worried about McCain’s health, “but you understand the math, so obviously makes things difficult.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), after praising McCain, further said that it “does complicate things and I just don’t know if he can be back next week.”

McCain’s absence from Washington leaves GOP leadership with an even narrower path to passing their bill.

Republicans are working hard to get a House-passed healthcare bill and are hoping to get most of the proceedings done early next week. GOP will only need a simple majority on the bill to have the legislation passed, and all votes would matter, and hence they are hoping for McCain’s return as they don’t want to lose such an important vote.

If the voting is in GOP’s favor, they would have a chance to repeal and replace ObamaCare and propose a new healthcare plan instead.

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Blame Game
"The buck stops over there!" "No it doesn't, it stops over there!"

Mitch McConnell faced embarrassment and failure once again as two more Republicans announced their disapproval of the Affordable Health Care Act. In his two and a half years as the Senate majority leader, this Monday was perhaps the most humiliating defeat for McConnell.

The GOP healthcare bill collapses with seven years of hard work going down the drain, as the Republicans fall short of votes and lost, with only 47 of the 50 votes they needed. The effort to “repeal and immediately replace” Obamacare “will not be successful,” stated McConnell.

“In the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period,” McConnell said.

The blame game started immediately as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) expresses how surprised he was to read in the Washington Post that McConnell was debating that “major reforms to Medicaid were so far in the distance that they would never take effect. Johnson said Monday that he’d confirmed through conversations with other senators that McConnell had made the remarks,” as noted by Politico.

“The reported comments from Leader McConnell before last Thursday about ‘don’t worry about these Medicaid changes, they won’t take effect,’ that’s troubling to me. I have talked to senators that basically confirmed that. I’ll see what Leader McConnell says tomorrow,” Johnson stated. “From my standpoint, it’s a pretty serious breach of trust, those comments. I’m just troubled by those comments,” he added.

McConnell didn’t stand back from replying and fired back that, “I prefer to speak for myself, and my view is that the Medicaid per capita cap with a responsible growth rate that is sustainable for taxpayers is the most important long-term reform in the bill. That is why it has been in each draft we have released.”

While, their “Failure to pass an Obamacare repeal could upend the entire Republican agenda. The party has spent nearly seven months on a health care overhaul, with hopes it would ease the path to tax reform. Now Trump and the GOP-led Congress are staring at an impending August recess with no major legislative achievements in hand.” noted Politico.

However, the President Trump administration doesn’t seem to be very least shook by the failure. It was noted that President Trump held a dinner with GOP senators on Monday evening where he mentioned that entire party were like “dopes” in event that they fail to pass the bill after a repeal bill was successfully passed under the Obama administration. “If the Republicans have the House, Senate and the presidency and they can’t pass this health care bill they are going to look weak,” Trump had stated. And that,“How can we not do this after promising it for years?”

However, as Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas announced that they would not be supporting the bill, the Trump administration took it as a good sign with President Trump  tweeting, “Republicans should just ‘REPEAL’ failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”

“President Trump, intent on delivering a win no matter the terms, insists on pushing on now with flat-out Obamacare repeal, content to set the clock back to 2009 while waiting for the mythic unicorn of a workable replacement bill to arrive,” notes the NY Post, just as Gov. Cuomo, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Mayor de Blasio announced that they are willing to sue the federal government if President Trump decides on signing the failed bill into a law.

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Special Interest
They are fighting over your taxpayer money, as usual... Drain The Swamp!

As we come to yet another session of voting on the Healthcare bill, the divide within the medical community is very clear and rather alarming.

Many doctors and hospitals are very strongly advocating against the bill, while some even took the initiative of sending letters to the leaders of the Senate, addressing their concerns about the $772 billion the bill is set to cut from Medicaid.

The ObamaCare repeal bill includes deep cuts being made on Medicaid and focuses on reshaping the program to a system that relies on capped federal payments and limits spending.

A recent study further highlights that the bill favors the rich far more than the poor population. The Time talks about the study, “A new study, released Tuesday, offers one reason why: The measure dramatically favors the wealthiest Americans, at the expense of the least well off. The study, conducted by the Tax Policy Center — a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute and the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center — used economic models to estimate the effect of the Senate health bill’s impact on Americans in all different income groups.”

They further highlight that the studies shows, ” roughly 14 million American families earning $200,000 or more would enjoy an annual net benefit of roughly $5,400 a year by 2026, when the law would be fully implemented, the study found.

Poorer families would not benefit significantly from the bill’s tax cuts, and would be hurt by other provisions, which include less generous health insurance tax credits and less generous Medicaid spending than what they would be able to count on under Obamacare,” as stated by the Time.

While, those in favor of the bill pointed out that the bill contains provisions such as $140 billion in tax cuts and $50 billion over the course of four years to stabilize the insurance market. Furthermore, it also contains a little more than $60 million to help insurance providers cover patients with high costs.

The BlueCross BlueShield Association backed the bill by stating, “We are encouraged that the draft Senate legislation funds cost-sharing reductions, which help those who need it most with out-of-pocket costs, so they can access care,” the group said. “The state stability and innovation program will also go a long way in helping to cover the costs of caring for those with significant medical needs.”

Anthem, too showed their support and stated, “We believe the Senate discussion draft will markedly improve the stability of the individual market and moderate premium increases” because it appropriates billions of dollars in short-term funding to shore up the exchanges, provides cost-sharing reduction funds and eliminates a tax on health insurance plans, Anthem said in a statement.

Jeff Myers, president and CEO of Medicaid Health Plans of America expressed, “Reconciliation makes that kumbaya moment very hard,” and that at the time of ObamaCare, “while everyone was giving up something, there was some value in the creation of new opportunities. But they’re not passing out candy here.”

Moreover, it has been noted that the bill is most likely to adopt the tax cuts much similar to those implemented under ObamaCare.. Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune, of South Dakota said, “I don’t think anything is final, but obviously that is the direction I think a lot of our members want to move,” Thune said after a closed-door meeting with GOP lawmakers. “Which is to keep some of those [taxes] in place and be able to use those revenues to put into other places in the bill where it can make a difference.”

It is be noted, the Republicans are at least seven votes short of the 50 votes they need to get the bill approved by the Senate. Sources have highlighted that as soon as a draft copy of the bill was made available, quite a chunk of the GOP senators strongly expressed their discontent. The senators although argued against the bill, they too had divided opinion. While, some argued that the bill was not conservative enough, another group such as Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Dean Heller of Nevada argued that the bill appeared to be way too conservative.

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Hospital Bonuses
The government exists to reward mediocrity- exactly what we need with our medical care!

A new report from the Government Accountability Office has revealed that under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), hospitals received thousands of dollars in bonuses even though they had significantly low quality scores.

The new report appears to be the latest in a series which have essentially exposed the flaws in the Obamacare program.

Initiated under Obamacare, the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing scheme was shaped in a way that it incentivized hospitals in order to effectively increase the quality of healthcare being offered and also increase efficiency.

While the scheme was supposed to reward hospitals that provided high quality medical care at lower costs, auditors at the agency discovered that hospitals that had high efficiency scores but offered drastically low quality continued to receive bonuses.

“While a majority of all hospitals received a bonus or a penalty of less than 0.5 percent each year, the percentage of hospitals receiving a bonus greater than 0.5 percent increased from 4 percent to 29 percent from fiscal year 2013 to 2017,” the report states.

It was found that in fiscal year 2017, hospitals that received a bonus even though their quality scores were well below the median, numbered 345. Additionally, auditors also found that from 2015 through 2017, almost 20 percent of all hospitals that received a bonus for maintaining high quality, had a below average quality score.

The report goes on to state that in fiscal year 2017, the average bonus awarded to all hospitals was $67,511. It should come as no surprise that this is more than double amount awarded to hospitals in 2013 when the average bonus hospitals received was $30,352.

Furthermore, it was also discovered that if a hospital did not have quality scores due to some reason, it would make their efficiency scores even higher, and because of how the agency calculated the score, such hospitals were more likely to be awarded a bonus.

“In fiscal year 2017, 68 percent of hospitals with missing domain scores received a bonus, compared to 50 percent of hospitals with all domain scores,” the report explains. “For example, in fiscal year 2017, 182 of the 345 lower quality hospitals that received a bonus (53 percent) were missing at least one quality domain score.”

“CMS signaled the importance of hospitals’ providing care at a lower cost to Medicare, and, in its weighting formula, the agency tried to find balanced consideration for quality and cost,” the report states. “Rather than achieving this balance—which would have allowed the agency to identify and reward higher quality and lower cost hospitals—CMS’s weighting formula has resulted in bonuses for some lower quality hospitals, solely due to their cost efficiency.”

Following the release of the report, the agency announced that it is considering changing the way it currently calculates the scores.

“HHS is committed to improving the quality of care across settings while also improving the efficiency of care and patient experience,” said Barbara Clark, acting assistant secretary for legislation at the agency. “HHS will examine alternatives and consider revising the formula for the calculation of hospitals’ [total performance score] consistent with relevant statutory guidance, and in a way to reduce the effect of the efficiency domain on the [total performance score].”

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Healthcare Stalled
Since we have to rely on the GOP to fix this nation's Obama era policies, I guess that just means we are doomed...

Senate Republicans have asked for a delay in the vote on the Senate’s health care bill, till the lawmakers come back from their July 4 break.

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate Majority Leader, said that he has high hopes of “getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place,” regarding the bill.

“We’re going to continue the discussions within our conference on the differences that we have, that we’ll continue to try to litigate,” he told reporters after quite a lengthy discussion with Senate GOP conference.

When asked by a reporter if the delay simply meant the bill was dead, McConnell replied, “No, no.”

“This is a very complicated subject,” he said. “Legislation of this complexity almost always takes longer than anybody else would hope. But we’re going to press on. … We’re optimistic we’re going to get to a result that’s better than the status quo.”

McConnell also told reporters that Republicans have been invited to the White House to discuss their strategies moving on.

On the other hand, Democrats say that efforts to defeat Republicans’ moves to replace and repeal Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) are nowhere near over.

“The Republicans cannot excise the rotten core at the center of their health care bill, no matter what tweaks they may add in the next week and a half,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters. “If our Republican colleagues stick to this base bill … we’re going to fight the bill tooth and nail, and we have a darn good chance of defeating it – a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.”

The delay in voting came after Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah.) indicated that he would not approve to move ahead with the debate of the new bill. However, a spokesman for Lee has suggested that the lawmaker has not ruled out voting for the final version of the bill if certain changes are made.

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Sean Spicer
I have to confess -sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between the Sean Spicer comedy TV skits, and the real Sean Spicer...

The heath care bill that is set to be released this Thursday, has not yet been reviewed by the President Donald Trump.

While, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said on Tuesday afternoon, “I expect to have a discussion draft on Thursday, and we will go to the floor once we have a CBO score, likely next week.”

“We’ve been discussing all the elements of this endlessly for seven years. Everybody pretty well understands it. Everybody will have adequate time to take a look at it. I think this will be about as transparent as it can be,” he said, while adding that Americans shall have “plenty of time” to thoroughly review.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer claims that he doesn’t know if President Donald Trump has reviewed a draft of the Senate Republicans’ health care legislation, “I don’t know that,” Spicer said during a press briefing Tuesday.

Spicer stated that, “I know that there was some chatter today, I know the president has been on the phone extensively with [Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)] and with key senators,” Spicer said. “So I don’t know if he’s seen the legislation or not, but I know that they’ve been working extremely hard, and the president has been giving his input and his ideas, feedback back to them, and he’s very excited about where this thing is headed.”

He went on to add that he is unsure of whether even the White House staff has seen a draft of the health care bill. “I don’t even know where we are in terms of a final plan,” he said.

When, Spicer was asked about a report by CNBC that had mentioned it to tech executive that the Senate bill “needs more heat.” To this, Spicer responded, “The president clearly wants a bill that heart in it.”

It is to be noted that the GOP has just 52 senators, while the bill shall require 50 votes to be passed.

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