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President Trump meets with big insurer CEOs following leak of Obamacare repeal/replace plan

Plan first leaked to Politico would end individual, employer mandates, income tax subsidies, and phase out Medicaid expansion.

Susan Morse, Associate Editor

President Trump posted this photo of his meeting with payer CEOs on Twitter.President Trump posted this photo of his meeting with payer CEOs on Twitter.

The Obamacare repeal and replacement debate is heating up this week after a week-long break for Congress.

President Donald Trump met with chief executives of large health insurers such as UnitedHealth Group, Aetna and Cigna Monday, following a leaked release to Politico Friday of an Obamacare repeal and replacement plan.

Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark T. Bertolini said, "Everyone who took part in today's meeting shares a common goal – ensuring every American has access to affordable health care. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration and both parties in Congress on a broader range of solutions that Americans will find valuable in managing their health care needs."

The meeting at the White House including Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

America's Health Insurance Plans said, "During the meeting, we discussed how our experience, expertise, and lessons learned from the past inform our solutions to deliver both short-term stability and long-term improvement. When we all work together, we can make health care better.

"The Administration has taken several recent steps to demonstrate its commitment to a stable, effective transition that works for consumers, and we look forward to Congress taking additional, much-needed action soon. We are committed to working with the Administration and Congress to improve health care for every American."

The president tweeted after the meeting: "Great meeting with CEOs of leading U.S. health insurance companies who provide great healthcare to the American people."

The draft replacement bill follows through on many of the proposals put forward by House Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP leadership before last week's break.

It ends the individual and employer mandate and the income tax subsidies for coverage. Instead, it bases a tax credit on a person's age, with older Americans paying more.

Insurers have reportedly been pushing for that change.

The bill would bring back high risk pools for consumers with pre-existing conditions. The Feds reportedly would offer $100 billion to states in innovation grants to help subsidize expensive enrollees.

Revenue would come from setting a limit on tax breaks on employer health plans, a plan similar to the Cadillac tax proposed under Obamacare.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Cadillac tax imposes a 40 percent excise tax on employer plans exceeding $10,200 in premiums per year for individuals and $27,500 for families. The tax was scheduled to take effect in 2018, but due to employer group protest and GOP opposition, was pushed off until 2020.

The bill also includes penalties for individuals who fail to maintain  continuous coverage, addressing another insurer concern about people signing up only when they get sick. Those who let coverage lapse and re-enroll would face a 30 percent boost in premiums for a year.

The bill also eliminates Planned Parenthood funding, and Medicaid expansion would be phased out by 2020.

Trump was scheduled to speak with governors Monday morning on the repeal of Medicaid expansion.

Under the draft bill, states could opt to keep Medicaid expansion but would get less federal funding for coverage. Under the GOP plan, federal funds to states for Medicaid would be based on the number of Medicaid enrollees, in a per-capita cap.

On Sunday at the Governors Ball, Trump said he was addressing the Republican governors in the room, saying the best thing would be to do nothing about the ACA because 2017 is a disaster for Obamacare.  Republicans could then blame the Democrats and President Obama.

"And they will come begging for us to do something," Trump said. "Not the fair thing to do for the people."

[Also: Community clinics worry Obamacare repeal will leave them high and dry]

The president said there would be more specifics on the progress being made regarding healthcare Tuesday night, when he is scheduled to address Congress.  Trump reportedly has said he expects a repeal and replace plan would emerge in early to mid March.

"Everybody is different, every state is different, and different requirements, but I think we have something that's going to really be excellent," he said Sunday. 

Obamacare doesn't work, the president said.

"But we're going to have it fixed, and we're going to repeal and replace," Trump said. "And I think you're going to see something very, very special." 

Former House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday during HIMSS17 in Orlando that he's skeptical about the prospect of repeal-and-replace, because Republicans "will never, ever agree what the bill should be."

[Also: Former House Speaker John Boehner says much of ACA will remain intact]

Instead he predicted that Republicans would just make some fixes to the healthcare law.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said last week that an ACA repeal and replacement plan would be addressed after the legislative break.

The Congressional Budget Office is currently working out the details of what the plan would cost.

[Also: Support for Obamacare grows and repeal and replace looms]

The popularity of the ACA is high as protests have taken place at town meetings across the country over the GOP's plan to dismantle Obamacare.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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