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Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Republicans are considering phasing out Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in their Affordable Care Act repeal. As part of the phase out, they would allow the Medicaid expansion states to "freeze" the acceptance of new enrollees, while non-expansion states would be given additional funding from a separate mechanism to "level the playing field" among the states.

The idea comes as a major fight is brewing internally among Republicans over whether to dismantle the Medicaid expansion when they attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act this year. However, many of the details are yet to be worked out, and it's unclear how it would fit within GOP lawmakers' plans to block grant the Medicaid program, which is a major priority in their health care overhaul.

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To pay for their Obamacare replacement provisions, House Republicans are considering imposing a major change to the tax treatment of employer-based insurance plans as part of their legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

House members coming out of a GOP-caucus meeting Thursday on their health care overhaul plans said that capping the tax exclusion for employer plans -- i.e. imposing a monetary limit at which point health benefits are taxed like other forms of income -- was discussed as a potential revenue booster. The proposal is somewhat like the ACA's Cadillac tax, which was hated by Democrats and Republicans alike, and is often included in GOP replacement plans, including the "Better Way" outline offered by Speaker Paul Ryan last summer. Capping the exclusion could solve the problem for Republicans of how to pay for their replacement, as many of them have said that the ACA's current taxes need to be repealed right away. But since it will affect the types of plans used by a vast plurality of Americans, it won't come without a political fight.

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How to deal with Medicaid expansion has become the latest sticking point in Republicans’ effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. While most lawmakers acknowledge it’s a major source of tension, there appears to have not been any decisions made yet as to whether states should be able to keep their expanded eligibility -- and whether the federal government should continue to subsidize a vast majority of it.

“That’s the $94 question, and I think there will be an incredible tug of war,” said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-NC), a House conservative who unveiled his own Obamacare replacement plan Wednesday.

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A group of conservative House Republicans on Tuesday made explicit their preference for using 2015 Obamacare repeal legislation as the model for dismantling the Affordable Care Act this spring. That may be more of a negotiating position than a hardline stance, however.

The lawmakers weren’t ready to say if they would definitively vote against any repeal legislation that didn’t go as far as the 2015 bill. Nor did they rule out supporting replacement measures being added to that repeal legislation, though they had concerns that adding provisions to the 2015 bill was bogging down the repeal effort.

“The 2015 bill that we all voted for in both the House and the Senate is the floor,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) told reporters at the monthly Conversations with Conservatives. “If there's something else in there, we’ll take a look at that. But we don't want to be heading in the wrong direction.”

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A trio of conservative House members said Tuesday that they were open to further congressional investigations into accusations that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who resigned as national security adviser Monday night, had inappropriate contacts with Russia during the presidential transition.

The Republicans, speaking with reporters on Capitol Hill at their monthly "conversations with conservatives," said that the intelligence committees should first work with the intelligence community to get a better understanding of what communications did occur between Flynn and Russian officials, but that they supported a broader investigation if the intel communities found it warranted.

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Tom Price, in his first full week as the secretary of Health and Human Services, has a major decision in front of them: Will he get a head start on GOP lawmakers and take aggressive whacks at the Affordable Care Act that could send the individual markets into chaos, but give the Trump administration a victory against President Obama’s signature achievement? Or will he take a sort of “Make Obamacare Great Again” approach that will keep the ACA exchanges operating and insurers participating, but draw conservative ire?

Though many of the changes Price can make in implementing Obamacare could take months or even well over a year, there a few key moves that will signal which direction he’s heading.

“Given the scope of Secretary Price’s administrative authority, he could either blow up the market or promote stability,” Larry Levitt, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told TPM.

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In a procedural move in an ongoing case in Texas, the Department of Justice, which recently welcomed former Sen. Jeff Sessions as its new attorney general, took a step back from the department's previous defense of Obama-era guidance protecting transgender students' rights.

The brief court filing says that Justice Department is "currently considering how best to proceed" in the lawsuit over the guidelines issued under the previous administration. While the does not affect a separate Virginia-based transgender rights case heading to the Supreme Court, civil rights advocates are already reading into it as a sign that they will no longer have an ally in the federal government, particularly when it comes to the rights of transgender young people in schools who seek to use the bathrooms matching their gender identity.

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An Oregon-based insurer scored a $214 million court victory this week in a case brought after congressional Republicans in 2014 hobbled the federal government's ability to fund an Affordable Care Act program.

The program, known as risk corridors payments, sought to blunt some of the risk insurers were taking on in the first three years of Obamacare's implementation. The program shifted money from insurers that over-performed on expectations to those that underperformed. However, GOP lawmakers inserted an amendment in must-pass legislation barring the government from drawing funding for the program from elsewhere in the Department of Health and Human Services to make up any shortfalls between the money collected from insurers and the money owed. (Florida's GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, pictured above, led the charge against the risk corridors program.)

As a result, insurers, on average, have received around 12 percent of the payments they have been owed.

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The public phone numbers for both the majority and minority offices of the House Oversight Committee now give callers a separate option to complain about the Trump administration, an option that did not exist for the Obama administration.

“[T]his is not typical,” said Jennifer Werner, the communications director for the committee's Democrats, in an email to TPM, when asked whether the Oversight Dems had operated a separate option for executive branch inquiries under previous Presidents.

“It reflects the massive number of calls we have been getting since the election urging the committee to conduct basic oversight of the Trump Administration,” she said.

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President Trump suffered a setback in court Thursday evening, when a panel of three judges decided not to reinstate his travel ban, after a lower court temporarily blocked it. In the 3-0 order, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the states challenging the executive order, Washington and Minnesota, had the standing to sue Trump’s administration and that the administration hadn't proved it was likely to succeed when the full case was litigated. The panel also said that the immigration order should continue being blocked nationwide, citing a 2015 court decision that halted an immigration order issued by the Obama administration.

Here are five points on Thursday’s order:

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