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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Evan Vucci / AP

Now that the repeal and replacement effort has stalled, it is important for President Trump to turn his attention to making the Affordable Care Act work — or he will have more health care headaches interrupting his agenda.

Here's how he can do it:

  • Get Congress to embed funding for cost-sharing subsidies for low-income customers into the "must-pass to avert a government shutdown" funding bill. Right now, Republicans are holding these funds hostage, which could make care unaffordable for poor people and lead to a big spike in 2018 premiums.
  • At the same time he should, in the same bill, renew reinsurance funding (like we use in Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage) to make premiums less volatile. Reinsurance is important, since many ACA plans have a small number of beneficiaries and therefore have unpredictable medical costs.
  • Next, Trump should resolve the silly lawsuit Republicans filed opposing the cost-sharing subsidies.
  • He should also instruct the IRS to enforce the individual mandate, since his January executive order creates needless ambiguity.
  • He should empower the Department of Health and Human Services to use its existing authority to reduce the number of "special enrollment periods."
  • For extra credit, Trump should ask Congress to loosen the age rules to let insurers charge older customers four times as much as younger ones — rather than three times as much — and proportionally increase subsides for older people to make them whole while lowering premiums for younger people.
  • Lastly, HHS should leverage the private sector to acquire customers for Healthcare.gov and make Healthcare.gov work better. By cutting off advertising right before the close of open enrollment, it is likely that fewer young and healthy people enrolled. It is in everyone's interest to have a larger and healthier individual risk pool.
  • HHS currently makes it needlessly cumbersome for web brokers like eHealth and Stride to create better user experiences by forcing them to do a "double re-direct" to Healthcare.gov for multiple steps of the buying process. This can easily be changed, and would enable the government to leverage firms that can sell insurance cost-effectively and deliver better consumer experiences.

These actions all work to make health care more affordable and more attractive. They are all politically feasible and, if done now, would help Americans immediately and make 2018 premiums much less surprising.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Report: U.S. calls for UN-led Afghan peace talks

Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, D.C., in February. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a letter outlining a plan to accelerate peace talks with the Taliban that the U.S. is "considering" a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Afghan outlet TOLOnews first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: In the letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, also obtained by Western news outlets, Blinken expresses concern that the Taliban "could make rapid territorial gain" after an American military withdrawal, even with the continuation of U.S. financial aid, as he urges him to embrace his proposal.

Harry and Meghan accuse British royal family of racism

Photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conversation with Oprah Winfrey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."

Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.

Updated 6 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Thousands rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Demonstrators on March 7 outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murdering George Floyd, will begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.

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