California Healthline Daily Edition

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Conservative Republicans Demand Dropping Essential Benefits Coverage

A core Obamacare feature is the requirement that insurers offer plans that cover basic health services like maternity care, mental health services, prescription drugs and hospital care. Some Republicans seek to lower costs and have more health insurance choice by rolling back those mandates.

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare 101: 4 Things You Need To Know About 'Essential Health' Benefits 
Among the most important — and little understood — new insurance rules put in place by the Affordable Care Act was a requirement that health plans cover a basic set of benefits. The requirement was part of a package of new consumer protections in the healthcare law, including a prohibition on insurers denying coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions and bans on annual- or lifetime-limits on coverage, which were once common. Conservative House Republicans have been demanding the so-called essential benefit requirements be scrapped. Here’s a rundown of what this debate is about. (Levey, 3/23)  

Marketplace: Conservatives Want The Government To Stop Mandating What Insurers Must Cover
The latest carrot that House leadership and the White House are using to win conservative Republican votes for the health care bill is repealing an Obamacare provision that standardized insurance policies. Under Obamacare, virtually all insurance policies cover things like hospitalization, mental health, prescription drugs and pregnancies – known as essential health benefits. But guaranteeing those benefits cost money, while doing away with them would drop the price of premiums. (Gorenstein, 3/23)

NPR: Republican Health Bill Could Remove Pre-Existing Condition Protections
When House Speaker Paul Ryan says he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act so that people can buy insurance that's right for them, and not something created in Washington, part of what he's saying is that he wants to get rid of so-called essential health benefits. That's a list of 10 general categories of medical care that all insurance policies are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act. Getting rid of that requirement, or trimming it, is central to the Republican strategy, because they say those benefits drive up insurance premiums so much that healthy people won't buy coverage. (Kodjak, 3/23)

The Washington Post: ‘I Wouldn’t Want To Lose My Mammograms,’ Male GOP Senator Says — Then Immediately Regrets
It’s a common question among those decrying the cost of health insurance: Why should you have to purchase a plan that covers procedures you won’t ever need? Especially if, say, you’re a guy, and your plan covers maternity care — as Obamacare requires most plans sold through an exchange to do? It’s also a philosophy in conservative circles gaining momentum as Republicans try to deconstruct Obamacare, (Phillips, 3/23)

Lawmakers have made other modifications to the bill as well —

The Washington Post: Nine Health-Care Bill Changes Aimed At Wooing Moderates And The Far-Right
The legislation, dubbed the American Health Care Act, faces resistance within the House GOP from both moderates within the party and the most conservative faction. As a result, the bill’s authors have proposed to alter parts of the bill in ways to appeal to one camp or the other — and even offered a change specifically targeting a handful of representatives from Upstate New York. Here’s how the bill has changed. (Goldstein, Schaul, Soffen and Uhrmacher, 3/23)

Stat: Trump Pledged Not To Cut Medicaid. Is He Keeping That Promise?
It’s among his most famous campaign promises: Donald Trump pledged he would not cut Medicaid as president. But the legislation that Trump has aggressively promoted, and that Congress is expected to vote on ... appears to do exactly that. It would reduce Medicaid spending by hundreds of billions of dollars over 10 years, compared with current law, while dramatically altering the financing of a program that covers 70 million Americans.The White House, however, says it is not “cutting” Medicaid. (Scott, 3/23)

Bloomberg: Trumpcare Has Seniors Rethinking Early Retirement 
After decades of saving diligently, Dan Maize, 53, of Williamsburg, Va., made the decision last year to retire early. He stayed at his job, managing a grocery store, until February—just before Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a health-care bill that could make his early retirement much harder to afford. Under the American Health Care Act, the Obamacare overhaul that faced a congressional vote on March 23, costs could fall for many younger Americans. The majority of older people would pay much more, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and others who analyzed an early version of the legislation. (Steverman, 3/23)

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