Freedom Caucus Attempts Revival of “Trumpcare” Bill
April 04, 2017
The new Republican health proposal would undermine coverage for pre-existing conditions; U.S. trade gap shrinks as exports increase; U.S. factory activity continued to expand in March.
- New Republican Health Proposal Would Undermine Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions. Late on Monday night, the White House and the group of conservative lawmakers known as the Freedom Caucus had discussed a proposal to revive the Republican health care bill, which was pulled from the House floor last month after not attracting enough support. However, the proposed changes would cast away the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing conditions provision. Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the head of the Freedom Caucus, described the terms as states having the option to jettison two major parts of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance regulations. They could decide to opt out of provisions requiring insurers to cover a standard, minimum package of benefits, known as the essential health benefits, or they could decide to eliminate a rule that requires insurance companies to charge the same price to everyone who is the same age, a provision known as the community rating. The ability to opt out of the benefit requirements could substantially reduce the amount of benefits in the insurance. The second opt-out would allow health plans to be free to charge patients as much as they wanted, even though technically, the deal would still prevent insurers from denying coverage to people with a history of illness. This would help bring down the price of insurance for people who are healthy, but make it much more expensive for anyone who needs help paying for medical care. Though the proposal is not final, Representative Meadows told reporters after the meeting that his members would be interested in such a bill. To pass the House, the bill would need to appeal not only to the Freedom Caucus, but also with more moderate Republicans. [NYTimes]
Economic Indicators & News
- U.S. Trade Gap Shrinks as Exports Increase. The U.S. trade deficit decreased sharply in February as overseas customers spent more on American products and services. This is the latest sign that U.S. factories are benefiting from global economic stability. The trade gap in goods and services decreased by 9.6% in February from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted $43.56 billion, according to the Commerce Department on Tuesday. Imports fell 1.8% while exports grew 0.2%. The smaller deficit suggests that the economy may have grown at a slightly stronger pace than previously reported in the first quarter, and that the economy is positioned for stronger growth in the spring. After inflation, exports of goods reached the highest level on record in February, and exports of services also grew healthily. Overall exports have risen 7.2% this year compared to the same period a year earlier. A decline in imports in February reflected reduced purchases of consumer goods, including cellphones and automobiles. Economic growth is expected to rebound in the second quarter in part due to the recent increase in exports and smaller U.S. trade gap. [WSJ]
- U.S. Factory Activity Continued to Expand in March. According to the Institute for Supply Management on Monday, activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector expanded at a healthy pace in March. The index of factory activity fell to 57.2 in March from 57.7 in February, which had been the strongest reading since August 2014. Despite the decrease, the gauge marked a seventh consecutive month of industrial expansion. The index tracking prices paid by companies for their raw materials rose to its highest level since May 2011. Bradley Holcomb, who oversees the survey, said that the prospects of lower tax rates and less regulation are helping to drive this expansion. He also said that companies are finding that they can pass prices along to their consumers, more than has been the norm in recent years. Indexes for new orders and production pulled back in March. Meanwhile, the employment index rose to its highest level since June 2011 and the index tracking new export orders hit its highest level since November 2013, signaling stronger global growth. [WSJ]