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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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As concerns escalate over the GOP’s plans to repeal Obamacare, and what it means for the millions with pre-existing conditions whose coverage has been guaranteed by the law, Republicans have pointed to so-called high-risk pools, as if they were magic bullet of sorts for covering seriously sick individuals.

However, using high-risk pools as a substitute for the Affordable Care Act would cost a boatload of money, health care policy experts tell TPM, and when states implemented it in the past, it was often consumers who were left picking up the tab or left out of the system entirely.

“It’s better than nothing, to help some people,” said Henry Aaron, a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, “but it’s a massive step backward from the Affordable Care Act.

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A key House Republican in the effort to repeal Obamacare said that the law's subsidies for insurers which are currently the target of a GOP lawsuit will continue in the so-called transition period after the Affordable Care Act of is repealed. The acknowledgement that the subsidies will need to be maintained is yet another signal that key Republicans on the Hill are prepared to prop up Obamacare in the short term while they work on an eventual replacement plan

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), who heads one of the committees that will be writing the legislation to repeal Obamacare, told Politico last week that he wants to see the subsidy program funded “one way or another."

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President-elect Donald Trump has an Obamacare replacement plan coming soon and it will provide "insurance for everybody," he said in an interview with the Washington Post late Saturday. He also said he intended to negotiate drug prices with Medicaid and Medicare providers, putting him at odds with most Republicans on the issue.

It's unclear how his plans for an Affordable Care Act alternative fit into the discussions currently underway among GOP lawmakers, who are rushing to repeal the law without a consensus replacement. Many Hill Republicans have been squeamish about saying whether their replacement would have similar or greater coverage levels as the Affordable Care Act.

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A three-judge federal court panel denied Thursday the request by two Obamacare enrollees to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act by House Republicans. The enrollees had argued that they should be allowed to take up the defense of subsidies in the law targeted in the lawsuit because there was reason to believe that the Trump administration, once President-elect Donald Trump was inaugurated, would change the federal government's position in opposing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in 2014, argues that ACA subsidies paid out by the Obama administration using Treasury Department funds are illegal because they were not appropriated by Congress. The payments, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, subsidize insurers for keeping out-of-pockets costs down for low-income consumers, as is mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Health policy experts contend that withdrawing the subsidies would send the individual market into chaos, if not collapse it entirely.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) reiterated his desires to overhaul Medicare on a CNN town hall Thursday night, while acknowledging that he and President-elect Donald Trump -- who promised during the campaign not to cut the benefits program -- were not exactly on the same page on the issue.

"We've had a couple of conversations about it. Look, we don't all agree on everything. It's - I think people kind of know that," Ryan said, when asked how he was going to change Trump's mind on the issue.

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Earlier this week, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) did something few Republicans have dared to do since the election: go into some detail of how he would like to see lawmakers go about transitioning into a replacement for an Affordable Care Act.

His vision, which he outlined in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, is earning measured praise from some health care policy experts for at least acknowledging that Republicans may have to keep some aspects of Obamacare alive while they work on an alternative to avoid causing major chaos to the individual market.

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After President-elect Donald Trump equated alleged leaks from the intelligence community with Nazi Germany, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that Trump will "learn to appreciate" the work the intelligence community does, but defended Trump for being "frustrated."

"Obviously those are not words I would use. But he is understandably very frustrated at what’s happening because it isn’t fair and it’s all unsubstantiated, so his frustration is completely understandable," Ryan said at his weekly press conference Thursday.

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Former Attorney General Eric Holder highlighted his plans to focus on redistricting reform in the post Obama-era, with remarks Thursday marking the the launch of the political group he will lead.

“Gerrymandering has always been part of the political process, but what we are seeing is gerrymandering on steroids and I think that’s the thing that we are in the process of trying to combat,” he said Thursday during a Q&A at the left-leaning think tank, Center for American Progress.

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Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Thursday that he will vote against Sen. Jeff Sessions' (R-AL) confirmation to Attorney General. In a statement released early Thursday morning, the top Democrat said he was concerned that Sessions would not act as an appropriate check on President-elect Donald Trump.

“After reviewing his record and giving careful consideration to his answers during the hearing, I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration," Schumer said. "I am also deeply concerned by his views on immigration, which I saw firsthand during the push for comprehensive immigration reform. For those reasons, I will oppose his nomination to serve as the next Attorney General.”

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was unwilling to commit Wednesday to voting President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Because of the partisan split on the committee, his defection could stall the nomination.

"My view is the president deserves wide latitude in their positions, but the higher the position is the less latitude they have," Rubio told reporters after the hearing, in remarks broadcast by CNN. "Some positions, as the it gets higher and higher, the discretion becomes more limited and our scrutiny should become higher."

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