Good morning ... Now we wait for the fallout from those Congressional Budget Office estimates. Will wavering Republicans be as "encouraged" as House Speaker Paul Ryan was? Oh, and congrats to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on getting a new chief while we were all looking somewhere else.
The next few days will tell us whether Republican leaders prepared adequately for the disastrous Congressional Budget Office estimates of the House Obamacare replacement bill. It's one thing to say, "we're not going to compete with a law that forces everyone to buy coverage." It's another thing to fight headlines about 24 million Americans losing coverage.
Top Republican responses:
But here are the Republicans to watch:
The bottom line: It's summed up in this tweet from former Senate Republican aide Rodney Whitlock: "Critical, soul searching moment for GOP. Ignore #CBOscore and plow ahead or admit that some ideas might just be problematic."
FWIW: Politico reports that the White House's internal projections were even worse: 26 million would lose coverage over the next 10 years.
A few things that stand out:
And look at what happens to the net premiums people would pay, after tax credits, based on their age (h/t Yvette Fontenot, former Senate Democratic aide and member of the Axios board of experts):
Single person earning $26,500 a year (175 percent of the federal poverty line):
Age 21: $1,700 (Obamacare); $1,450 (GOP bill)
Age 40: $1,700 (Obamacare); $2,400 (GOP bill)
Age 64: $1,700 (Obamacare); $14,600 (GOP bill)
It kind of got lost in the news of the day, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is finally going to have a permanent chief. The Senate confirmed her 55-43. That's it. Moving on ...
'Tis the season for compensation disclosures, and Bob Herman is all over them. Humana was the first insurance company to shed light on how much top executives made (its CEO made $17 million despite some Obamacare troubles). Using actual realized stock gains, not fair value of stock, here's the skinny on two other insurers that just filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission:
Neidorff's compensation last year would have been enough to cover 6,500 people in the average Obamacare plan or almost 1,800 average family employer plans.
Here's one of the ways the Trump administration is going to promote flexibility in Obamacare: by granting lots of waivers. In a letter to governors yesterday, Price invited them to apply for "Section 1332" waivers — which let the states opt out of some of the law's requirements if they can achieve the same goals in different ways. It's not a well-known provision, and it only kicked in this year.
Why it matters: It's one of the ways Price and his HHS team can relax some of the requirements in Obamacare without changing the law. (Only Congress can do that.) The letter also shows one of Price's top priorities: encouraging states to bring back high-risk pools and reinsurance programs. That's what Alaska wants to do if HHS approves its waiver.
We're late to this, but Yuval Levin, a "reform conservative" writer and a sometime adviser to Ryan, had a smart critique in National Review about why the House Obamacare replacement bill doesn't really match up to past GOP replacement proposals. His answer: It's distorted by the fact that it tries to fit within Senate budget rules, including leaving Obamacare's insurance regulations in place, "which means it can't really achieve most of the key aims of the conservative reforms it is modeled on."
Example: The bill's continuous coverage rule, which would apply a 30 percent premium penalty to anyone who doesn't stay insured, doesn't work the way it would have in most other GOP proposals, Levin writes. That's because as long as you keep Obamacare's other rules in place, a sick person would be willing to pay the penalty to get back into the health insurance pool — but a healthy person wouldn't. (That's what CBO said, too.)
The bottom line: "A bill pursued now could do more than the House bill now sets out to do, or it could do less. Presenting a partial step as a full one and pre-negotiating particular insurance-rule changes based on expectations about the Senate parliamentarian just doesn't make for a coherent product."
What we're watching today: Snow. Also, Trump speaks with Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish, 3 pm Eastern; Seema Verma swearing-in, 3:30 pm Eastern.
What we're watching this week: CNN town hall with Tom Price, Wednesday; House Budget Committee marks up the budget "reconciliation" package tying together the repeal bills, Thursday (rescheduled from Wednesday).
What we're watching next week: House vote on the Obamacare replacement package. Also, Senate HELP Committee hearing on reauthorizing the Food and Drug Administration's user fee agreements, March 21.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what else is happening or what else we should cover: firstname.lastname@example.org.