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Supporters of the Affordable Care Act are putting together a new effort to promote enrollment, hoping to make up for at least some of the Trump administration's cuts to that outreach program.
What's happening: The plan is still under wraps for now, but an announcement could come as early as this week. The approach sounds like it'll be roughly in line with the role Enroll America played during the first four open-enrollment periods, before closing its doors this past spring.
Why it matters: ACA enrollment at the end of the Obama administration was stable overall, but with some problem spots. And that's where things ended up with both the White House and its external allies pulling out all the stops to get people to sign up and make things work as well as possible.
My thought bubble: The Trump administration isn't interested in making things work as well as possible. So if the law is going to even maintain its current level of on-the-ground strength, its allies will have to do the heavy lifting.
Yes, but: External allies were a sort of force multiplier for the Obama administration. It's pretty hard to go from a force multiplier to a force replacer. Two key points from a veteran of the Obama-era outreach effort:
If you thought all the repeal-and-replace drama before August recess meant you'd be able to take it easy in September…well, you must be new here. Health care never stops, and Congress already has a full plate for the month.
Some of the things we are watching:
Citing internal HHS documents, ACA enrollment analyst Charles Gaba reports that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services was planning to fund enrollment "navigators" right up until the day the department's leaders decided to dramatically roll back that funding.
According to Gaba, who supports the ACA, career staff had gotten so far along in the process that grants had already been approved, and the press release announcing a 90% cut to outreach funding "was their first notification that these grants should not go out."
Why it matters: This would be just one more instance of the Washington making health-policy decisions by the seat of its khakis. President Trump is deciding the fate of the ACA's cost-sharing subsidies one month at a time. Congressional Republicans finalized their various repeal-and-replace bills a few hours before voting, if at all. As much as it's been said, it apparently bears repeating: There are few things the health care industry values more than predictability. And predictability is in short supply these days.
It appears hospitals in the greater Houston area have avoided permanent destruction in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. But that doesn't mean there won't be serious repercussions for the facilities that had to close or cut back services due to the treacherous floodwaters, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
David Nather points out there's a lower-profile health care bill to watch: A bipartisan coalition of former HHS officials and former senators is pushing Congress to pass a bill that encourages Medicare beneficiaries to prepare digital advance care plans.
More details: The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Chris Coons and Republican Rep. Diane Black, would give them a small payment ($75 if they register this year) to file a plan outlining what medical care they want, and what they don't want, in an emergency where they can't express their wishes.
Why it's worth watching: Can Congress have a grown-up conversation about end-of-life care (or any other kind of emergency care) without anyone shouting "death panels"? We'll see. The politics of the issue have gotten a bit better since 2009, but it's always a danger.
Note: This is not the kind of bill that you'd expect to see moving on its own, especially with so many bigger issues taking up lawmakers' time this fall. But it is the kind that could easily pop up in, say, a year-end spending bill.
What we're watching this week: