Julie Rovner | Connecticut Public Radio
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Julie Rovner

It was a moment of genuine bipartisanship at the House Ways and Means Committee in October, as Democratic and Republican sponsors alike praised a bill called the "Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2019."

The bill, approved by the panel on a voice vote, would allow consumers to use their tax-free flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts to pay for over-the-counter medications and women's menstrual products.

The newest faculty member at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences has a great smile ― and likes to be scratched behind the ears.

Shetland, not quite 2 years old, is half-golden retriever, half-Labrador retriever. As of this fall, he is also a lieutenant commander in the Navy and a clinical instructor in the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology at USUHS in Bethesda, Md.

The politics of health care are changing. And one of the most controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act — the so-called "Cadillac tax" — may be about to change with it.

The Cadillac tax is a 40% tax on the most generous employer-provided health insurance plans — those that cost more than $11,200 per year for an individual policy or $30,150 for family coverage. It was a tax on employers and was supposed to take effect in 2018, but Congress has delayed implementation twice.

The headlines about presidential candidate Joe Biden's new health care plan called it "a nod to the past" and "Affordable Care Act 2.0." That mostly refers to the fact that the former vice president has specifically repudiated many of his Democratic rivals' calls for a "Medicare for All" system, and instead sought to build his plan on the ACA's framework.

The fate of the Affordable Care Act is again on the line Tuesday, as a federal appeals court in New Orleans takes up a case in which a lower court judge has already ruled the massive health law unconstitutional.

State attorneys general and women's health advocates who are hoping to block in court new Trump administration rules for Title X, the federal family planning program, face one major obstacle: The Supreme Court upheld very similar rules in 1991.

Those rules were summarily canceled after a change in administrations. But the court is arguably more conservative than it was 28 years ago.

With Democrats now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, it might appear that the fight over abortion rights has become a standoff.

After all, abortion-rights supporters within the Democratic caucus will be in a position to block the kind of curbs that Republicans advanced over the past two years when they had control of Congress.

But those on both sides of the debate insist that won't be the case.

If last Friday's district court ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional were to be upheld, far more than the law's most high-profile provisions would be at stake.

In fact, canceling the law in full — as Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, ordered in his 55-page decision — could thrust the entire health care system into chaos.

Once again, Medicare is moving front and center in this fall's campaigns.

Throughout the election season, Democrats have been criticizing Republicans over votes and lawsuits that would eliminate insurance protections for pre-existing conditions for consumers.

But now Republicans are working to change the health care conversation with a tried-and-true technique used by both parties over the years: telling seniors their Medicare coverage may be in danger.

New York University's School of Medicine is learning that no good deed goes unpunished.

The highly ranked medical school announced with much fanfare this month that it is raising $600 million from private donors to eliminate tuition for all its students — even providing refunds to those currently enrolled. Before the announcement, annual tuition at the school was $55,018.

Senate Democrats, who are divided on abortion policy, are instead turning to health care as a rallying cry for opposition to Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Specifically, they are sounding the alarm that confirming the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals judge could jeopardize one of the Affordable Care Act's most popular provisions — its protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.

What would the U.S. look like without Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide?

That's the question now that President Trump has chosen conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Dr. Atul Gawande, the surgeon-writer-researcher chosen to lead a joint health venture by three prominent employers who hope to bring down health costs, says his biggest goal is to help professionals "make it simpler to do the right thing" in delivering care to patients.

The Trump administration is refusing to defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, essentially arguing that federal courts should find the health law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional.

The federal lawsuit hinges on the ACA's individual mandate, or the requirement to get health coverage or pay a penalty. The mandate has long been a sticking point for conservatives, who argue that the government should not be telling individuals what coverage they must have.

The Affordable Care Act very nearly failed to become law back in 2010 because of a dispute among Democrats over how to handle abortion in the bill.

Now a similar argument between Democrats and Republicans is slowing progress on a bill that could help cut soaring premiums and help stabilize the ACA.

At issue is the extent to which the Hyde Amendment — language commonly used by Congress to prohibit most federal abortion funding — should be incorporated into any new legislation affecting the health law.

A bipartisan group of senators and House members has been working since last summer toward measures to keep prices from rising out of control and undermining the individual market—the market that serves people who don't get insurance through work or through the government. Members hope to attach a package of fixes to what should be the year's final temporary spending bill, due late this month.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised abortion opponents four specific actions to "advance the rights of unborn children and their mothers."

One year into his presidency, three of those items remain undone. Nevertheless, opponents of abortion have made significant progress in changing the direction of federal and state policies.

A day after President Trump said the Affordable Care Act "has been repealed," officials reported that 8.8 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the federal insurance exchange for 2018 — nearly reaching the 2017 number in half the sign-up time.

That total is far from complete. Enrollment is still open in parts of seven states, including Florida and Texas, that use the federal HealthCare.gov exchange but were affected by hurricanes earlier this year.

In his high-stakes strategy to overhaul the federal health law, President Donald Trump is threatening to upend the individual health insurance market. But if the market actually breaks, could anyone put it back together again?

Back in January, Republicans boasted they would deliver a "repeal and replace" bill for the Affordable Care Act to President Donald Trump's desk by the end of the month.

In the interim, that bravado has faded as their efforts stalled and they found out how complicated undoing a major law can be. With summer just around the corner, and most of official Washington swept up in scandals surrounding Trump, the health overhaul delays are starting to back up the rest of the 2018 agenda.

After weeks of will-they-or-won't-they tensions, the House managed to pass its GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act on Thursday by a razor-thin margin. The vote was 217-213.

Democrats who lost the battle are still convinced they may win the political war. As the Republicans reached a majority for the bill, Democrats on the House floor began chanting, "Na, na, na, na ... hey, hey, hey ... goodbye." They say Republicans could lose their seats for supporting a bill that could cause so much disruption in voters' health care.

Updated 5 pm April 3, 2017 to include the proposed Upton amendment.

The House may yet pass its bill to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act. But Republicans' options to fulfill their seven-year effort to undo the federal health law are getting narrower by the day.

"As of now, they still don't have the votes," said Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) as he was leaving a meeting of GOP members Tuesday. King has been heavily lobbied by both sides.

As House Republicans try to find common cause on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, they may be ready to let states make the ultimate decision about whether to keep a key provision in the federal health law that conservatives believe is raising insurance costs.

Conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus and members of a more moderate group of House Republicans, the Tuesday Group, are working on changes to the GOP health overhaul bill that was pulled unceremoniously by party leaders last month when they couldn't get enough votes to pass it.

Your federal income taxes are due April 18 this year, and — for perhaps several million people — a fine for failing to get health insurance is due that day, too.

Despite a lengthy debate, Congress has not yet acted on a bill to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act. That means the law and almost all of its regulations remain in force, at least for now.

Many people are worried about how potential changes to the federal health law might affect them. But few are as concerned as those with pre-existing health conditions.

Got questions about the GOP plan to overhaul federal health law? Join us on Twitter Thursday 12-1 p.m. ET for our #ACAchat. Kaiser's Julie Rovner, NPR's Alison Kodjak and health policy analysts of various political persuasions will be online discussing how the Republican plan could work, who wins and who loses. See you there!

After literally years of promises, House Republicans have a bill they say will "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act.

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, health care under the Affordable Care Act is going to change in the next few years. The Republican-led Congress has vowed to "repeal and replace" the health law known as Obamacare.

That has left many people anxious and confused about what will happen and when. So NPR's Morning Edition asked listeners to post questions on Twitter and Facebook, and we will be answering some of them here and on the radio in the weeks ahead.

If repealing the Affordable Care Act is the Republican Congress' job one, defunding Planned Parenthood is a close second.

In fact, the two priorities might be paired. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Jan. 5 that efforts to defund the organization "would be in our reconciliation bill," referring to a measure Congress has put on a fast track in order to repeal major pieces of the health law.

Leading Republicans in Congress have vowed that even if they repeal most of the Affordable Care Act early in 2017, a replacement won't hurt those now receiving benefits.

Republicans in Congress are so eager to repeal the Affordable Care Act that some have vowed to get a bill to President-elect Donald Trump's desk on the day he takes the oath of office.

"We will move right after the first of the year on an Obamacare repeal resolution," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters at a news conference Monday.

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