Apr 12, 2017

Latest Trumpcare idea: Let different health plans fight it out

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

White House officials and top Republicans have been trading new ideas over the recess to get Obamacare repeal back on track — and one of the latest ideas is to allow more market competition between health plans that follow Obamacare's rules and plans that don't, according to sources familiar with the talks.

They're also trying to narrow the language of the proposal to let states opt out of some of the law's insurance regulations. That's a concession to moderates who don't want to undermine Obamacare's protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

What it means: The goal is to get enough Republicans on board so the House can vote on the bill in two weeks, right after the recess ends. The latest talks show all sides are serious about trying, and they're testing all kinds of ideas to break the stalemate, but there's no sign that they've found the breakthrough yet.

Who's talking: Officials from Vice President Mike Pence's office, other White House aides, staffers from House Speaker Paul Ryan's office, and Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows.

What they're talking about: The new idea is to let insurers sell health plans that don't have all of Obamacare's requirements — like the 10 categories of benefits, the minimum coverage amounts, and the limits on cost-sharing — as long as they also sell "qualified health plans" that follow all of Obamacare's rules. That way, consumers would have more options, including cheaper plans.

Between the lines: It's not clear how seriously the new idea has been vetted, we're told, especially with insurers. The usual objection to such head-to-head competition is that all of the healthy people would flock to the skimpier plans, so the only ones who would want the more expensive Obamacare plans would be the sick people.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,463,392 — Total deaths: 344,503 — Total recoveries — 2,195,325Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,653,904 — Total deaths: 97,948 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Italy reports lowest number of new coronavirus cases since February

Italy’s aerobatic team Frecce Tricolori fly over Milan in Duomo Square on May 25. Photo: Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images

The Italian government reported 300 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the lowest daily increase since Feb. 29.

Why it matters: Italy, the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown after emerging as a hotspot in March, appears to have finally weathered its coronavirus outbreak. Italy has reported nearly 33,000 total deaths, the third-highest total behind the U.S. and U.K.

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.