In most strands of the multi-verse, the below would have sent the health wonk community ablaze. Instead in this strand, we spent all day yesterday talking about a proposed rule from CMS and generally shaking our head as our government continues to say “Hold my beer and watch this….”
But this is normally a BFD:
Lamar Alexander tells me Senate is NOT planning to pass ACA repeal bill Obama vetoed last year. "That's not the plan that we're working on."
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) February 14, 2017
What does this mean?
Repeal and Replace or Repeal and Delay and Pray is dead. There is no coherent coalition of 218 and 51. The Republican Senate caucus can afford to lose two votes (assuming Democrats are healthy and have everyone show up). The 2016 ACA Repeal bill defunded Planned Parenthood and knocked out Medicaid Expansion. Either of those elements will cost the Republicans at least two votes. Combined, those two provisions probably cost the Republicans six to ten votes. That is a blocking coalition when combined with Democrats.
In the House, Speaker Ryan would like to pass anything with only Republican votes in order to not be hung out to dry like former Speaker Boehner (remember he has tough votes on the debt ceiling coming up). That means he needs 90% of his caucus on board with anything. The Republican House Freedom Caucus has enough members to deny Ryan a Republican only majority. The HFC is demanding a word for word replica of the 2016 bill.
This is a Big Biden Deal as the status quo bias works in our favor for the avalanche approach that I feared in November can’t get started. Long, boring committee meetings, calls to the CBO, wonks ripping apart a plan to help advocates find very sympathetic people to tell true stories with high emotional punch is where we’re going for anything more complicated than a technical correction bill or rebranding.