The week in health care, explained

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This is the web version of VoxCare, a daily newsletter from Vox on the latest twists and turns in America’s health care debate. Like what you’re reading? Sign up to get VoxCare in your inbox here.

Doug Jones probably saved most of Obamacare

It’s really hard to imagine a scenario in which Republicans can repeal Obamacare with a 51-seat Senate majority when they couldn’t do it with a 52-seat majority. Doug Jones might have ended Obamacare repeal for good when he won the Alabama Senate seat on Tuesday.

The two Republican senators who have opposed every version of Obamacare thus far — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — reiterated this week that they don’t really want to revisit health care next year.

I’ll have more on this on Monday, but this is a big deal. Yes, the individual mandate will likely be repealed in the Republican tax bill next week, and that is going to hurt the insurance markets. But it probably won’t destroy them.

On top of that, Medicaid expansion will be left untouched. The protections for people with preexisting conditions will stay on the books. The financial aid for private insurance will still be available. Those are big parts of the health care law that look here to stay.

“The heart of the ACA has always been the Medicaid expansion, the premium subsidies to make insurance more affordable to lower-income people, and the protections for preexisting conditions,” Larry Levitt at the Kaiser Family Foundation told me. “Those things will all still be in place.”


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