Rand Paul Introduces Alternative To Republican Health Care Plan
March 09, 2017
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduces ObamaCare repeal alternative; Republican U.S. health plan clears first hurdle on Thursday; U.S. weekly jobless claims rise from 223,000 to 243,000, U.S. Import and Export Prices Rise in February.
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduces ObamaCare repeal alternative. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is pushing an alternative ObamaCare repeal bill as opposition to the House GOP’s healthcare plan grows. The ObamaCare repeal bill that Paul proposed is mirrored off a 2015 bill that cleared the Senate along party lines. The bill includes a staggered repeal of Affordable Care Act taxes, including a repeal of the Medical Device Tax in 2019 and the Cadillac Tax in 2020. The legislation would also eliminate eligibility for ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion as of 2020 and the higher federal matching rate for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Paul’s proposal would separate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act from replacement, which may alienate more moderate Republicans who want the key details of replacement finalized before voting on a repeal. However, Paul argued that Republicans are “unified” on wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and senators could later decide on a replacement plan. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has introduced the legislation in the House. The Republicans have a narrow path to passing ObamaCare repeal. With a 52-seat majority, they can only afford to lose two GOP senators to still pass the repeal. [The Hill]
- Republican U.S. health plan clears first hurdle on Thursday. The Republican healthcare plan backed by President Donald Trump to replace ObamaCare cleared its first hurdle on Thursday, yet its chances for passage in Congress is still uncertain as Democrats, some conservatives and industry groups are opposed. The first of two House of Representatives committees considering the legislation – the Ways and Means Committee – approved it before dawn after 18 hours of work on a party-line vote. All Democrats voted against the Republican healthcare reform legislation. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is still continuing its markups. Conservative lawmakers and lobbying groups have said the Republican health plan is too similar to ObamaCare. Hospital groups, including the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and other provider groups have also publicly opposed the bill. American’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents Anthem Inc. and other insurers, believes that tax credits for the individual insurance market did not go far enough. [Reuters]
Economic Indicators & News
- U.S. weekly jobless claims rise from 223,000 to 243,000. The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week rebounded from a near 44-year low; however, the data still show a tightening labor market as job cuts decreased in February. According to the Labor Department on Thursday, initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 243,000 for the week ended March 4, while claims for the prior week were unrevised at 223,000, which was the lowest level of jobless claims since March 1973. Jobless claims have now been under the 300,000 threshold associated with a healthy labor market for 105 straight weeks. This marks the longest stretch of being below the threshold since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller. [Reuters]
- U.S. Import and Export Prices Rise in February. U.S. import and export prices both rose in February, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday. According to the report, import prices increased 0.2 percent in February after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.6 percent in January. The February increase in import prices was the third month in a row that import prices rose, which may indicate that the increase in imports is going beyond oil into other industrial and consumer goods. Unlike in January and December, the increase in import-related inflation in February isn’t tied to higher oil prices, as petroleum imports actually fell 0.7% in February. Instead, the increase in import prices last month came from higher costs of industrial supplies and materials and consumer goods. The price of goods exported by the U.S. to other nations rose by 0.3% in February. Over the past year, export prices have increased 3.1%. [NASDAQ, MarketWatch]