ACA

A worker is seen behind the registration window of the emergency room at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
(AP Photo/David Goldman)

On this edition of Political Rewind, we take a broad look at healthcare in Georgia. After multiple attempts, Congress has failed to shut down The Affordable Care Act, but President Donald Trump is eliminating a number of key provisions through executive orders. What’s the likely impact on Georgians of ending the individual mandate?


A day after President Trump said the Affordable Care Act "has been repealed," officials reported that 8.8 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the federal insurance exchange for 2018 — nearly reaching the 2017 number in half the sign-up time.

That total is far from complete. Enrollment is still open in parts of seven states, including Florida and Texas, that use the federal HealthCare.gov exchange but were affected by hurricanes earlier this year.

Open enrollment on the federal health law's marketplace — HealthCare.gov — ends Friday, and most people who want a plan for next year need to meet the deadline.

But some consumers who miss the cutoff could be surprised to learn they have the opportunity to enroll later.

"While a lot of people will be eligible ... I am still worried that a lot of consumers won't know it," says Shelby Gonzales, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

If you're poor, uninsured and have a bad car wreck or fall seriously ill, there's a chance in most states to enroll for Medicaid after the fact. If you qualify for Medicaid, the program will pay your medical bills going back three months.

This "retroactive eligibility" provides financial protection as patients await approval of their Medicaid applications. It protects hospitals, too, from having to absorb the costs of caring for these patients.

It was the Friday before a Monday deadline, and federal health officials in Washington, D.C., were working feverishly with their counterparts in Oklahoma to finalize the details of a new state reinsurance program.

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

Today on “Political Rewind,” Delta Airlines CEO Edward Bastain is bristling at a few Trump administration policies that he says will hurt the company. It’s the first time the company has expressed deep concern with the president. Our panel talks about the friction.

Then: negotiations on a new NAFTA agreement break down, Georgia farmers could pay a steep price for failure to strike a deal. How much will tariffs hurt agriculture exports, especially in the North Georgia poultry industry?

Updated at 11:40 p.m. ET

The Trump administration said Thursday that it would end the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reduction payments designed to help low-income Americans get health care. Not paying the subsidies, health care experts have warned, could send the health insurance exchanges into turmoil.

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday that is intended to provide more options for people shopping for health insurance. The president invoked his power of the pen after repeated Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, have failed.

"The competition will be staggering," Trump said. "Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up. And you will be, hopefully, negotiating, negotiating, negotiating. And you will get such low prices for such great care."

Republicans' complex health care calculations are coming down to simple math.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs 50 of the chamber's 52 Republicans to vote for a bill that aims to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act and drastically reshape the Medicaid system. McConnell's office is planning to bring the bill up for a vote next week.

There's a chance Republicans wouldn't be so close to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act if former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania hadn't dropped into the Capitol barbershop this spring.

"I was up on the Hill, I happened to just go by the barbershop to see if I could get a haircut, and Lindsey was in the chair," Santorum said. "And Lindsey asked me what I was doing, and I thought to myself, 'Well, let me just bounce it off Lindsey.' "

Alex Brandon / AP Photo/File

Today on “Political Rewind,” health care is back in the political headlines. Insurance companies are warning that rates are about to skyrocket – in part because of the uncertainty about how the Trump administration intends to support Obamacare. Tom Price is making dramatic cuts in money to help educate consumers on buying insurance from the exchanges, which critics say suppress registrations for insurance.

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill there’s a new GOP push to repeal and replace the ACA. Will it go anywhere?

Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act insurance doesn't start for another six weeks. But the quirky insurance startup Oscar Health is launching an ad campaign Monday aimed at getting young people to enroll.

The company is boosting its ad spending after the Trump administration announced it would slash its ACA advertising budget by 90 percent.

Updated 4:31 pm August 16: On Wednesday, the White House said it would continue what's known as cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers for another month, buying President Trump some time to decide whether he'll continue the payments long-term or cut them off altogether.

The announcement came a day after the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis that found that ending the payments would increase the deficit by $194 billion over 10 years.

Senate Republicans don't appear to be too worried about President Trump's latest round of threats.

Updated at 2:54 p.m. ET

After the Senate's attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act collapsed Monday, Republican leaders immediately began talking about repealing the health care law in hopes of coming up with a replacement later.

But by midafternoon Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan to hold a vote on a repeal-only bill had faltered, too.

The Affordable Care Act isn't perfect. Even proponents of the law would agree with that.

In many parts of the country, there is only one insurer in the individual markets — and in a few, there are zero. Premiums have spiked, sending some people on the insurance exchanges hunting for new plans.

When Senate Republican leaders delayed the vote on their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was quick to not declare victory.

"We're not resting on any laurels, nor do we feel any sense yet of accomplishment," Schumer said at his weekly press conference, shortly after the surprise GOP decision to punt on a vote. "Other than we are making progress, because the American people are listening to our arguments."

One provision of the Senate's health care bill stands to be quite popular: the Better Care Reconciliation Act would eliminate the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. That would be repealed immediately.

Another would likely please the Republican base: defunding Planned Parenthood for a year. Those funds would disappear right away, too.

Another would threaten health care coverage for millions of Americans: a rollback to the Medicaid expansion. That change wouldn't start until 2021.

Updated 3:30 p.m. ET

With their health care bill facing a perilous path, Senate Republican leaders have decided to push off a vote until after Congress returns from next week's July Fourth recess, GOP aides confirm to NPR's Susan Davis.

Updated at 2:32 p.m. ET

Senate Republicans unveiled their long-awaited health care overhaul proposal on Thursday. The Senate bill, called the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," would repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The broad outlines of it look a lot like the House bill, the American Health Care Act, which was passed in May.

The Affordable Care Act's worst enemies are now in charge of the vast range of health coverage the law created. They're also discussing changes that could affect a wider net of employment-based policies and Medicare coverage for seniors.

Although Republicans failed last month in their first attempt to repeal and replace the ACA, President Donald Trump vows the effort will continue. And even if Congress does nothing, Trump has suggested he might sit by and "let Obamacare explode."

After Surgery, Georgia Senator Could Miss Crucial Votes

Mar 23, 2017
David Goldman / AP Photo/File

Sen. Johnny Isakson is recuperating from his second back surgery this year at his Georgia home, complicating Republican leaders' plans as they count the votes for the GOP health care overhaul and a Supreme Court nominee.

Aides to the third-term Republican senator said Wednesday that Isakson is still awaiting his physician's approval to travel back to Washington.

Republicans will be tested today on the strength of party unity in the Trump era and their party's ability to deliver on the promises they've made to the voters that sent them here.

"This is our chance and this is our moment. It's a big moment," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters earlier this week. "And I think our members are beginning to appreciate just what kind of a 'rendezvous with destiny' we have right here."

Thursday will mark seven years since President Obama signed the now-threatened Affordable Care Act before a crowd in the jam-packed East Room of the White House. It was the signature legislative moment of his presidency, underscored by then-Vice President Biden, who whispered into the president's ear that it was a "big f****** deal." The mic picked up the remark, which created quite a stir.