Good morning, and Happy Friday! This is Caitlin Owens, reporting from an airplane somewhere between the Rockies and D.C. Don't forget to send your flattering emails to David letting him know how much you've missed him. But before you do that, here's your Colorado dispatch, featuring a more detailed look at what's going on at those GOP town halls.
Quick programming note: Vitals will be on a special spring break schedule next week — it'll come out on Tuesday and Thursday. We're expecting a slow health care news week, and we don't want to clutter your inbox with stuff you don't need. We'll be back to the daily schedule the following week — just in time for the House to come back and pass Trumpcare!
I attended Rep. Mike Coffman's town hall in Aurora, a Denver suburb, on Wednesday night, and this was the biggest takeaway: No one is very happy with his support of the House Trumpcare bill. Even his Republican supporters told me they didn't like it, either because it worsened existing problems or because it didn't go far enough.
Of course, there were also dozens of very angry liberals questioning Coffman about protections for those with pre-existing conditions and the newly insured. During the nearly two-hour event, the conversation kept coming back to health care. And everyone at the event seemed to agree on one thing: Trumpcare isn't dead.
Here's what they told me:
What comes next: Coffman is clearly trying to walk a very fine line. He said he doesn't regret supporting the House bill — he was the only member of the Colorado delegation to do so — but isn't clear about what should happen next.
A day after President Trump introduced his cost-sharing subsidy gamble via the Wall Street Journal, the scene in Washington has only intensified. Democrats are saying it's worth risking a government shutdown to make sure insurers receive the payments — and keep the individual market stable. And insurers largely ignored the latest Obamacare rule and kept talking about how much they need those payments.
The stakes: Congress must pass a spending bill by April 28 to keep the government open. But Democrats were so alarmed by Trump's public threat to throw insurance markets into turmoil that they're saying the payments must be attached to the spending bill, no matter the fallout.
Insurers say this is urgent: This statement in response to the Obamacare rule from Marilyn Tavenner, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, didn't sugarcoat the consequences of plans not being paid.
In the midst of the insurer subsidy turmoil yesterday, CMS released its final rule on the 2018 Obamacare marketplace. Not much changed from the proposed rule released earlier this year, David Nather reports. Which means insurers generally got what they asked for, and consumer advocate groups are likely worried. Here are a few things to consider.
On Wednesday, we highlighted a survey from venture capital firm Venrock, and there was another nugget that caught Bob Herman's eye: The valuations of many health care startups have ballooned to the point where people wouldn't invest in them now.
Chip Kahn, a former congressional GOP aide and now the head of the Federation of American Hospitals, knows how Congress works — and he's not writing off Trumpcare just yet. He talked with David about his concerns. You can read the full Q&A here, but a few highlights:
What we're watching next week: More GOP town halls, first-quarter earnings reports and whether anyone follows through on all the lawsuit threats over insurer subsidies and the CMS rule.
Thanks for reading my first-ever Vitals and enjoy your weekend! Hit me up with news, tips, and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org.