These are the two most important things happening right now, and they're going to lead to big problems if the tension isn't resolved:
- Republicans are increasingly saying they're not in a rush to replace Obamacare — because it's more important to get it right.
- Insurers really, really want to know what's coming next.
You could hear the new, laid-back pace in the way committee chairmen talked about Obamacare this week. "We're going to take the time to get this right," House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Greg Walden said at a subcommittee hearing yesterday. And in an interview with Caitlin Owens this week, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady said only that "the bulk of the changes in law and the bulk of regulatory changes must occur this year."
But top execs at the big health insurance companies, including Anthem and Cigna, have been saying this week that they can't commit to staying in the marketplaces in 2018 until they get some better signals. Cigna CEO David Cordani told analysts and investors yesterday that the company will make its Obamacare decisions this spring, but that the markets remain "fragile at best." If the Trump administration and Congress don't get them some answers soon, that's a recipe for meltdown.
Don't forget: It's not as if there's a lot of agreement among Republicans about how to proceed, even if they wanted to move faster.
FWIW: House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters yesterday that "we want to be moving our Obamacare legislation by the end of the first quarter."