Recap of This Week's Coverage of the Cassidy-Collins Patient Freedom Act

"Some Republicans Wary of Repealing ACA Without Replacement Plan"
Wall Street Journal | Louise Radnofsky and Siobhan Hughes
“Senate Republicans’ narrow margin of power creates plenty of questions for leaders tasked with steering through the party’s repeal of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. High on the list: What does Susan Collins want?”

“Sen. Collins, a Maine Republican, will answer that question publicly Monday when she introduces a bill with Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy aimed at breaking the party’s logjam over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act with a measure turning over the biggest decisions over the law’s future to the states.”

“Ms. Collins has been one of several senators wary of proceeding with repeal of the law until her party coalesces around a single replacement plan and a quick timetable for implementing it. Her instinct is shared by lawmakers in states with particularly fragile insurance markets like Tennessee and Alaska…”

"Sen. Collins’ plan for replacing Affordable Care Act holds seeds for compromise"
Portland Press Herald | Joe Lawlor 

“Health policy analysts say an Affordable Care Act replacement plan introduced by Maine Sen. Susan Collins this week could contain the seeds for a deal that would bridge the gap between the extensive benefits required under the ACA and skimpier proposals previously offered by congressional Republicans…”

“...Under Collins’ bill, the government would deposit taxpayer money into accounts of previously uninsured individuals – an undisclosed amount but expected to be several thousand dollars a year – and that money could be used to pay for a standard high-deductible plan or to help purchase more comprehensive coverage. Everyone who was previously uninsured and can’t get coverage from an employer or Medicare would automatically be enrolled in the standard health plan, with an HSA set up for them that would contain taxpayer-funded money they could use to pay for health care.

“Individuals would receive the taxpayer-funded deposits if they earned up to $90,000, or $150,000 for a married couple. After the income thresholds are reached, the assistance would be gradually reduced.

“Though the standard plan and other plans purchased through the Patient Freedom Act would not be required to cover everything that’s currently mandated by the Affordable Care Act, many of the ACA’s provisions would remain.

“For instance, the Patient Freedom Act mandates that most plans – even those purchased with HSA money – must carry the same preventive services as the ACA at little or no cost to patients.

“So the plans would still offer free colonoscopies, mammograms, immunizations, annual checkups, birth control, tests for a variety of diseases such as diabetes, hepatitis A and B, and sexually transmitted diseases, tobacco cessation programs and other mandated, preventive services.

“Also, the HSA-purchased plans, like the Affordable Care Act, must include mental health and substance use disorder services. The plans also would have a prescription benefit…”

“Is an Obamacare solution already staring Congress in the face?”
Christian Science Monitor | Francine Kiefer

“…[Sen. Susan Collins] is arguably the most moderate Republican in the Senate, a reliable bridge-builder across the partisan divide. She came to the floor on Monday to introduce a compromise bill co-sponsored with Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican doctor from Louisiana, to replace the Affordable Care Act…”

“…The compromise is unique to Republican legislation in that it allows states that want to keep Obamacare to do so. Other states could choose a more flexible approach that lets them drop the much-maligned mandate that requires individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a fine…”

“…At a time when both parties appear to be playing by hyperpartisan rules – oppose anything from the other side first, ask questions later – the space for people trying to find solutions is minuscule.”

“Her expectation was not that her bill would be accepted in full down to the last comma and ampersand. But negotiations have to start somewhere, and if every bill from the other side is summarily rejected, then the next few months – or years – will amount to very little…”

"Repeal and Compete"
New York Times | Ross Douuthat

“…Republicans should give serious consideration to the proposal that Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Senator Susan Collins of Maine have just put forward as a possible health care reform alternative…”

“…[I]t’s a federalist compromise. It lets individual state governments decide whether they want to stick with Obamacare or not, which would mean that the law would remain intact in most blue states for the time being, while redder states would have the opportunity to turn roughly the same amount of money (95 percent) to a different end…”

“…The promise is that by having people pay for more of their health care in cash and by giving them more freedom in what plans they’re allowed to buy, you would end up with less spending, lower prices and less cost inflation. (And you wouldn’t need the heavy, innovation-squashing price controls that single-payer systems use to get there.)…”

“…In a few months, however, it might turn into conservative health care reform’s best hope…”

"South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham endorses new Obamacare replacement plan"
Associated Press | Lauren Sausser
“U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has joined a growing group of Republican lawmakers who are endorsing a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.

“The Patient Freedom Act of 2017, introduced by Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine, would give states the choice to keep or abandon Obamacare...”

“‘This legislation transfers power from Washington back to patients and the states,’ Graham said in a prepared statement. ‘It ensures those with preexisting conditions can get coverage. It empowers patients by making enrollment easy, encourages price transparency, and eliminates burdensome mandates.’”

"Senators' ObamaCare replacement bills highlight GOP divide"
The Hill | Nathaniel Weixel
“…The Cassidy-Collins bill contains less drastic changes than some Republican proposals. In addition to keeping many taxes and letting states keep the plan itself, other states could opt into an alternative plan that would provide a uniform tax credit.

“‘These are two of our most effective United States senators who have thought it through very well, so I think their plan will be seriously considered,’ Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate’s health committee, said.”