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Trump urges Republicans to repeal individual mandate in tax reform package. President Trump on Wednesday called on Republicans to add repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate to tax reform, dropping a bomb on already fragile House negotiations. “Wouldn’t it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further tax cuts,” Trump tweeted. "The House and Senate should consider ASAP as the process of final approval moves along. Push Biggest Tax Cuts EVER." The tweet comes a day before the House GOP is expected to reveal its own tax reform plan, which was already delayed as Republicans try to forge consensus. The bill is not expected to include a mandate repeal, as key House leaders were worried that injecting healthcare into the tax reform debate could make passage even harder. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., this week proposed adding the individual mandate repeal to the tax overhaul package, and it remains an open question in the Senate. Republicans are searching for ways to raise money so that they can offset any reduction in revenue from cutting taxes. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said he won't be adding the repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate to a tax reform bill expected to be rolled out Thursday. “What I don’t want to do is to add things that could again kill tax reform like healthcare died over there,” the Texas Republican said Tuesday in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt. Senate Republicans aren’t ruling out including a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate in their own bill. Brady’s counterpart in the Senate, Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, wouldn’t say whether the Senate tax bill would include the repeal. “We’ll have to see. We are still working,” he said. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the third-ranking GOP senator, said that he doubts it will be in the bill. “I wouldn’t want to rule it out,” he added. “There is some interest among our members on that issue.”
Flashback: CBO said repealing individual mandate would save $416 billion. In an analysis released in December, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the individual mandate would save $416 billion over a decade through a combination of lower spending and increased tax revenue. The lower spending would primarily come because, absent the mandate, fewer individuals would be expected to sign up for Medicaid and Obamacare’s exchange plans, while revenue would increase because fewer individuals would sign up for employer coverage, subjecting more income to taxation. In total, CBO estimated that 15 million fewer Americans would be insured through repeal of the mandate alone.
7 things to know about Trump's first Obamacare open enrollment. Obamacare’s fifth open enrollment starts today, with a different president running it for the first time. Obamacare has been the subject of repeated attempts at repeal by the Republican-controlled Congress and several moves by the Trump administration that critics claim are attempts to sabotage and undermine the law. Our team has outlined a few changes this year involving enrollment targets, when healthcare.gov will be online, deadline extensions in some states and how price variations are vast based on income cutoffs under Obamacare.
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The return of Obama the health insurance pitchman. Former President Barack Obama stumped for his signature healthcare law on the first day of open enrollment, cutting an ad posted by Get Covered America to remind viewers Obamacare's healthcare.gov website is open for business. "It only takes a few minutes, and the vast majority of people qualify for financial assistance," Obama said in the ad. The ad comes as Democrats are trying to promote signups, as they criticize Trump for attempting to sabotage the law by slashing the ad and outreach budget.
Poll: Half would blame Trump, Republicans for high health costs. A new poll found half of Americans surveyed would blame President Trump and congressional Republicans if their healthcare costs rose under Obamacare next year. The poll released Tuesday by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal undercuts a key argument from Trump that Democrats would own double-digit rate hikes for Obamacare. The poll found that 50 percent of respondents would blame the GOP and Trump and 37 percent would blame Democrats and former President Barack Obama. Thoughts on the law itself, which Republicans have unsuccessfully attempted multiple times this year to repeal, edged in favor of the law. The poll found 43 percent of Americans think Obamacare is a good idea while 39 percent do not. “It’s the fourth straight NBC/WSJ poll in 2017 where more respondents have called it a ‘good idea’ than a ‘bad idea,’” according to NBC News.
Republicans hope Trump avoids Obamacare mistakes in tax reform push. Fresh off his high from watching the House pass Obamacare replacement legislation in May, Trump invited all 248 Republicans in the lower chamber over to the White House for an impromptu Rose Garden celebration. “Premiums will be coming down. Deductibles will be coming down. But very importantly: It’s a great plan,” the president, surrounded by rank-and-file members, boomed from the podium. Two months later, Trump told a roomful of GOP senators the House-passed bill was “mean.” It was a stunning reversal from what he had told Americans on that sunny afternoon in the Rose Garden, and the first of several missteps that many claim contributed to Republican’s ultimate failure on healthcare — and worry about a repeat on tax reform.
“He proved last time to be an enormous liability,” veteran GOP consultant Rick Tyler told the Washington Examiner. “No one was talking about the benefits of what it was they were trying to get done. They were talking about Donald Trump not understanding something or Donald Trump attacking so and so, or ‘Donald Trump said this.’”
Patty Murray urges McConnell to bring up Obamacare fix. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., urged Senate Republican leadership to bring up an Obamacare stabilization deal for a vote as Obamacare open enrollment kicks off. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not brought up the legislation, which has 60 votes in the Senate, because President Trump opposes it. The legislation would fund Obamacare insurer payments that Trump cut off last month and are causing premiums to spike as high as 38 percent for some plans. “There’s no reason to wait — there's absolutely no excuse for inaction,” Murray said on the Senate floor Wednesday. But while the deal, which funds cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers in exchange for state flexibility from Obamacare regulations, has support in the Senate, its fate is nowhere near as certain in the House. Trump also has opposed the deal, calling the payments “bailouts” even though they reimburse insurers for a requirement to lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income Obamacare exchange enrollees.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus attack lack of outreach to Latinos. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus wants answers over reported cuts to outreach in the Latino community after the Department of Health and Human Services never confirmed a meeting date. The caucus wrote to HHS in August after reports surfaced that the agency had no plan for Hispanic outreach in 2018. The new letter sent Tuesday said that “HHS never confirmed a meeting date.” The news of the Hispanic outreach cuts came right before HHS announced it was drastically cutting ad and outreach funding.
NPR With ACA plans a tough sell, insurers bring on the puppies
The Hill Trump talks tough, but little action seen on high drug prices
Associated Press Lawsuit targets Trump’s rollback of birth control rule
Denver Post For fighting Colorado’s opioid crisis, lawmakers endorse prescription limits and possibility of safe injection sites
Axios Iowa is changing a core Medicaid requirement
STAT News Pre-term births in the U.S. rise again, signaling a worrisome trend
Reuters Drugmaker Novo Nordisk warns of U.S. legislation, cautious on 2018
WEDNESDAY | Nov. 1
First day of Obamacare open enrollment.
President Trump’s opioid commission to release report.
Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Crystal Gateway Marriott. PCORI’s Annual Meeting. Details.
Nov. 1-3. Renaissance Hotel Downtown. U.S. News & World Report Healthcare of Tomorrow event. Details.
Noon. National Press Club. 529 14th St. NW. Summit on “National Lung Cancer Awareness Month.” Details.
3 p.m. H-313. House Rules Committee hearing on CHIP reauthorization. Details.
THURSDAY | Nov. 2
PhRMA scientists and researchers meeting with senior Hill staffers.
8 a.m. W Hotel. 515 15th St. NW. Politico event on “The Opioid Crisis: Crucial Next Steps.” Details.
8:30 a.m. Cigna to release third-quarter earnings results. Details.
10:15 a.m. 2322 Rayburn. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on “Concerns Over Federal Select Agent Program Oversight of Dangerous Pathogens.” Details.
3 p.m. 325 Russell. Discussion among Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. on “Across the Aisle: A Conversation on our Nation's Opioid Epidemic.” Details.
3 p.m. Kaiser Health News to hold Facebook live events on consumer questions about Obamacare’s open enrollment. Watch stream.
FRIDAY | Nov. 3
9:30 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Brookings Institution discussion on “Policy Approaches to the Opioid Crisis.” Details.
Noon. National Press Club. 529 14th St. NW. Luncheon with FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Details.
SATURDAY | Nov. 4
Nov. 4-8. American Public Health Association 2017 Annual Meeting and Expo. Theme: Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health. Details.
SUNDAY | Nov. 5
Daylight saving time ends. You should have set your clocks back one hour.
MONDAY | Nov. 6
Noon. National Press Club. 529 14th St. NW. Luncheon with VA Secretary David Shulkin. Details.