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Why more waivers could help GOP expand health coverage

Carlos Osorio/AP

Surgeon/author Atul Gawande makes an interesting prediction in a New Yorker podcast: Even if Republicans are deadlocked on how to replace Obamacare, the Trump administration may be able to expand coverage just by granting more waivers from Obamacare:

QuoteYou could ironically be in a situation where … there is an increase in coverage because conservative governors start opening the gates to let people have coverage, paid for by the federal government.

Why it matters: At a minimum, President Trump's top health care officials, including Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price, have signaled that they want to use their authority to grant more waivers — for Medicaid and for Obamacare itself. That's a factor that many have overlooked in all of the focus on repeal.

Yes, but: Even if Republican governors do expand coverage that way, there will be a lot of debate over what counts as adequate coverage. And if repeal does go forward, the Trump administration and Congress still have to keep insurers from pulling out of the markets in the meantime — an event that could cause huge coverage losses.