By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director

Former HHS Secretaries Urge Trump to Support ACA

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, is likely here to stay. After previous attempts to repeal and replace the nation’s healthcare legislation, the Senate has finally moved on to other issues. However, this hasn’t stopped President Trump from attempting to undercut some of the financial components of the ACA. Recently, former Health and Human Services (HHS) secretaries from both the Democrats and Republicans urged Trump to support ACA subsidies that could affect the cost of more than 10 million American’s healthcare plans.

After numerous tweets from President Trump alluding to potentially withholding money from ACA subsidies, there’s growing uncertainty within the healthcare marketplace. Past HHS secretaries Kathleen Sebelius, Mike Leavitt, and Tommy Thompson all encouraged Trump to clear the air and provide certainty in the marketplace that could potentially affect billions of dollars associated with copays and deductibles for patients. The 2018 enrollment for subsidized health care through the ACA begins November 1. Only time will tell if Trump supports the subsidies for more than 10 million Americans.

Every U.S. County Will Have ACA Marketplace Option

After a turbulent, back-and-forth summer that saw many attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—along with a number of insurers pulling out of the ACA marketplace—uncertainty remained for whether all counties in the United States would have ACA options for local healthcare exchanges. CareSource, an insurance company, announced on August 24 that it would provide an option to the last remaining unsupported county, Paulding County in Ohio.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of the ACA had caused numerous big-name insurers to flee local exchanges—mostly in rural areas—or to request double digit premium hikes. Despite best efforts from the Trump administration and Republicans in Washington, DC, the ACA exchange is still functioning as smaller insurers are stepping forward to fill the void left by large companies that’ve withdrawn. Affordable access to care is one of many priority issues for ONS, and the organization will continue to educate lawmakers on the importance of this issue as healthcare policy continues to evolve.

Government May Look to Continuing Resolution to Prevent Shutdown

It’s that time of year again. The appropriations process is making its way through the House and Senate, as budgets are being determined for the 2018 fiscal year. This is typically a contentious time as both parties look to secure funding for essential and discretionary programs. All appropriations bills must be approved by September 30, 2017, to keep the government from grinding to a halt. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) thinks the most likely solution will be a continuing resolution that prevents a government-wide shutdown. Considering the number of bills that must make it through the Senate, Ryan is doubtful Congress will hit the September 30 deadline.

President Trump has also threatened to shut down the government if his border wall between Mexico and the United States isn’t funded. Ryan was quick to note that House appropriations bills included border security funding but that the wall would be a tougher sell in the Senate. Given the workload, Americans must wait and see whether a continuing resolution is needed to prevent a government shutdown.