Mary Ellen McIntire

Insurance Marketplace Sign-Ups Lag After Year of Changes
Fewer people are enrolling than last year, according to CMS

Enrollment in the insurance plans offered under the 2010 health care law appears to be lagging heading into the final stretch of the sign-up period.

Overall enrollment is down roughly 11 percent compared to this point last year, suggesting the final federal exchange numbers may end up lower than last year.

On ‘Medicare-for-All,’ Democrats Tread Lightly
It polls well. But Dems say the proposal isn’t ready for floor action

Progressives in the House are calling for a vote on a single-payer “Medicare-for-all” bill in the next Congress, but the expected chairmen who will set the agenda for next year say they have other health priorities.

Still, the progressives’ push could earn more attention over the next two years as Democratic candidates begin vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020. A handful of potential presidential candidates expected to declare interest have already co-sponsored “Medicare-for-all” legislation, an issue that was also a flashpoint in Democratic primaries over the past year.

On Health Care, Dems Go From Running to Baby Steps
Incremental measures will dominate action on the health law in a largely gridlocked Congress

The midterm elections all but ended the Republican push to repeal the 2010 law known as Obamacare, but as a defining issue for Democrats in their takeover of the House, health care will likely remain near the top of lawmakers’ policy and political agenda.

Newly emboldened Democrats are expected to not only push legislation through the House, but use their majority control of key committees to press Trump administration officials on the implementation of the health law, Medicaid work requirements, and insurance that does not have to comply with Obamacare rules.

Democrats in Governors’ Races Pounce on Trump’s New Health Waiver Rules
Revised guidance could complicate GOP prospects in some states

The Trump administration’s move this week to make it easier for states to waive aspects of the 2010 health care law would give increased power to governors to unilaterally change state health insurance marketplaces, raising the stakes in some gubernatorial races in the final weeks of the 2018 campaign.

Governors will be able to apply for waivers to exempt their state from certain requirements under the 2010 law without approval from their state legislatures, as had been required before the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a revised guidance for the waivers Monday.

Democrats Seize on Trump Administration’s Latest Obamacare Move
New administration proposal will lead to more ‘junk’ health plans, minority party says

Senate Democrats have seized on a Trump administration proposal to loosen restrictions on some health insurance offerings as the latest way to attack Republicans over protecting people with pre-existing conditions.

“The American people should look at what Republicans are doing, rather than what they’re saying, when it comes to health care. Just weeks before the election, Republicans are once again undermining protections for people with pre-existing conditions and sabotaging our health care system,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said in a statement.

Both Parties Seek to Energize Base Voters on Health Issues
As Republicans talk Obamacare repeal, Democrats re-emphasize top issue

Democrats are seeking to energize their core supporters by repeating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s remark this week that Republicans hope to revive a push to overhaul the 2010 health care law.

“McConnell gave us a gift,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer told MSNBC on Friday. “That’s a game-changer when he shows who he is and wants to really hurt people on health care.”

Health Care Exchange Premiums Dip, Finally
After steep increases in 2017 and 2018, states on the exchanges see a decline of 1.5 percent

Health insurance premiums in the 39 states that use HealthCare.gov will fall 1.5 percent on average for the most commonly purchased plans in 2019, marking the first time that rates have dropped since the 2010 health care law was implemented.

The decline is a significant departure from steep increases in 2017 and 2018. Premiums for HealthCare.gov plans grew by an average of 37 percent for plans this year, after rising by 25 percent the year before, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Thursday.

At the Races: What Does All the Health Care Talk in Campaign Ads Mean?
Decoding Democratic and Republican messaging over health care topics

With less than a month before the midterms, Democrats and Republicans are blanketing the airwaves with ads about one of the most heated topics in American politics — health care.

Since health care can be confusing on its own, it gets even more confusing when roped into talking points for the two major parties. 

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Health Care Ahead of the 2018 Midterms
At the Races, an inside analysis into 2018 House and Senate races that our political reporters — Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathé — are keeping tabs on 

Senior political reporter Bridget Bowman talks with CQ News health policy writer Mary Ellen McIntire to understand the core issues in the health care debate between Republican and Democratic opponents in the 2018 campaign. When opposing ads say different things, where's the truth? ...
Health Care and the 2018 Midterms: Pre-Existing Conditions
At the Races, an inside analysis into 2018 House and Senate races that our political reporters — Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathé — are keeping tabs on 

Senior political reporter Bridget Bowman talks with CQ News health policy writer Mary Ellen McIntire to understand the issue of pre-existing conditions in the health care debate between Republicans and Democrats in the 2018 campaign. When opposing ads say different things, where's the truth?...
Health Care and the 2018 Midterms: The 'Age Tax'
At the Races, an inside analysis into 2018 House and Senate races that our political reporters — Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathé — are keeping tabs on

Senior political reporter Bridget Bowman talks with CQ News health policy writer Mary Ellen McIntire to understand the issue of the so-called age tax — where older people on a health plan can only be charged three times more than what the youngest people on a health plan can — in the health care debate between Republican and Democratic opponents in the 2018 campaign. When opposing ads say different things, where's the truth?...
Health Care and the 2018 Midterms: Single Payer vs. Medicare for All
At the Races, an inside analysis into 2018 House and Senate races that our political reporters — Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathé — are keeping tabs on

Senior political reporter Bridget Bowman talks with CQ News health policy writer Mary Ellen McIntire to understand the issue of single payer insurance plans and "Medicare for all" in the health care debate between Republican and Democratic opponents in the 2018 campaign. When opposing ads say different things, where's the truth? ...
Senate Dems Want Republicans to Take a Position on ‘Junk’
Baldwin hopes to force a vote to overturn Trump administration rule on short-term health care plans

Senate Democrats are planning to force a vote this week on a resolution that would overturn the Trump administration’s expansion of short-term health insurance plans.

Critics call them “junk” plans, since they’re not required to comply with all the regulations of the 2010 health care law.

It’s Baaaccck! Health Care Law Again Front and Center in Midterms
As voters worry about health care, Dems flip the pre-existing script

Missouri Democratic senator Claire McCaskill is taking an approach in her fight for re-election that would have been unthinkable in her race six years ago — she’s defending the health care law.

The two-term, red-state senator has attacked her opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, for joining a suit brought by conservative state officials seeking to overturn the law and has rebuked the Trump administration for undercutting its protections.

Health Groups Sue Over Short-Term Insurance Plans
Critics warn plans would yield discriminatory practices

Seven health care groups sued Friday to invalidate the Trump administration’s plan to expand the sale of short-term health insurance plans, arguing they don’t actually meet the definition of “short-term.”

The plans would harm patients and disrupt insurance markets nationwide, the groups say. Under the rule, it could become more difficult for patients with pre-existing conditions to obtain health coverage. The administration’s “justifications for this rule are directly contrary to the congressional determinations embodied in the text and structure of the ACA,” they argue.

Ad War Over Drug Prices Goes One Step Forward, Two Questions Back
‘I undoubtedly will be sued,’ HHS chief Azar has predicted

Updated 11:04 a.m. | A spending bill passed by the Senate last week includes $1 million for the Trump administration to craft new regulations forcing companies to include prices in prescription drug ads.

But there’s still the question of how that would work — and whether the Department of Health and Human Services has the legal authority to make drug companies disclose prices in TV, radio and other advertisements to consumers.

As Dems Campaign on Pre-Existing Conditions, 10 Republicans Move In
Tillis touts ‘common-sense’ solution, Murray calls it a ‘gimmick’

Ten Senate Republicans on Friday released a bill meant to guarantee the protections for patients with pre-existing conditions included in the 2010 health care law.

The measure is a response to the latest legal challenge to the health law, which seeks to invalidate the law after Congress effectively ended the so-called “individual mandate” that requires most Americans to maintain health insurance coverage or pay a fine.

Trump Plan: Consumers Could Keep Short-Term Health Plan Skirting Federal Rules
Rule could take effect in 60 days, but ‘slow ramp-up’ anticipated

The Trump administration on Wednesday moved to finalize a rule that would let consumers maintain a short-term health insurance plan that skirts federal rules for just under a year, a step officials say will provide more affordable insurance options to more Americans.

The rule, which will be prepared Wednesday for publication in the Federal Register, is part of the administration's effort to allow people to purchase health care plans that don't comply with all of the regulations set by the 2010 health care law , and are typically less expensive than plans sold in the individual market exchanges.

‘Undeterred’ Trump Administration to Push Ahead With Medicaid Work Rules
Despite Kentucky setback, Alex Azar says HHS is “fully committed” to work requirements

The Trump administration will continue to approve state Medicaid work requirement proposals, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday, despite a federal court recently blocking Kentucky from implementing such rules.

The administration will continue litigating the Kentucky case and is “fully committed” to work requirements in the Medicaid program, Azar said during an address at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Senate Democrats Likely to Oppose Push to Block Health Insurance Mandate
Desire to keep contentious amendments off spending bills might prevail

A Republican amendment to a House-passed spending package that would ban the District of Columbia from implementing an individual health insurance coverage requirement is unlikely to gain steam as the Senate prepares to take up a similar measure.

It’s not clear yet if any Senate Republicans will introduce a similar amendment when the Financial Services and Interior-Environment package reaches the Senate floor, but it would likely face fierce minority opposition in the chamber, where Democrats are defending the 2010 health care law at every opportunity.