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Coffee CAHC policy round-up: December 6, 2017

Coffee CAHC is a twice-weekly newsletter where we round up and comment on the latest health coverage policy developments both nationally and here in Maine. We hope you find these updates helpful!

Have suggestions or feedback? Let me know (sbutterfield@mainecahc.org). If you like these emails, please share them with others, and ask them to sign up here.

 

Coffee CAHC

115th Congress, 1st session

128th Maine Legislature, adjourned

 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

 

Any big news happen since last we wrote? Hmm…

Apologies for the short and late edition; I, along with half of our staff, had a half-day meeting today that pushed things back a bit.

 

National level

Well, that sucked.

Unless you have just returned to Coffee CAHC from an internet-free zone somewhere in the world, you’ve no doubt heard that the Senate voted for a tax bill that includes a repeal of the individual mandate.

To call things Friday night “crazy” would be a ridiculous understatement. I ended up staying awake until the vote passed – you may have noticed we sent a press release at around 2:15am on Friday night/Saturday morning – and the process, such as it was, could not have been any nuttier. There really were copies of the bill being handed out as versions they were about to vote on where entire pages were “x”ed out, or had handwritten notes in the margins serving as actual bill text. It’s a very common refrain to say “geez, they didn’t even read what they were voting on!”, but in this case it was a literal impossibility.

And, you know, you reap what you sow. Congress is only now, five days later, starting to understand some of what was in the bill they voted for – and it’s a complete and utter train wreck. It turns out that handwriting a patchwork mess that tinkers with trillions of dollars on the fly at the same time you’re voting is not a good way to make policy. Who’d’a thunk it?! (we’d’a thunk it, and we did’a thinked it.)

Now the bill is in conference between the House and the Senate to iron out the differences. While it’s true that the Senate version includes individual mandate repeal and the House version does not, don’t hold your breath that the House won’t eagerly toss it in. That’s why we’re continuing to suggest that folks keep up the drumbeat of calls to Congress. Keep the pressure on: this thing ain’t over yet!

 

State level

The first meeting of the Health Care Task Force will be on December 20th, at 9:30am, in Augusta. You can sign up here to receive e-mails about upcoming meetings of and other updates about the Task Force.

 

Would you like to know more?

Vox has been doing some deep-dive research into emergency rooms and how they function as monopolies. Important read. Also check out Vox’s piece on how research shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, uninsured individuals don’t actually use the ER at higher rates than the norm.

 

Until next time, friends, I remain,

-Steve

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