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health care

Dental assistant Kim Weston updates a chart at the Odessa Brown Children's Clinic in Seattle. Weston has worked at the clinic for more than a decade.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Last week while lawmakers in Washington, D.C., were gnashing their teeth over what health insurance in the U.S. should look like, patients and providers in King County were wrestling with some of the same challenges they faced before the Affordable Care Act was in place.

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks to Anne Newcombe, the clinical director of emergency services at Harborview Medical Center, about what the hospital has seen since the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was implemented.   

Christine Mathews says she couldn't afford health insurance without the ACA subsidies. She was at a rally last month outside  Congresswoman Suzan DelBene’s district office in Bothell.
KUOW photo/Amy Radil

Supporters of Obamacare woke up Friday morning thinking they still needed to defend the law from Republican efforts to replace it.

As the political drama played out in the other Washington, a handful of advocates held signs outside Congresswoman Suzan DelBene’s district office in Bothell. They said they came to thank DelBene, a Democrat, for opposing the GOP legislation.

Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/cVEJJh

House Republicans, short of votes, withdrew their health care bill on Friday afternoon, just before it was supposed to go to the floor.

The bill was pulled after President Trump asked Speaker Paul Ryan to halt the debate without a vote, according to The Associated Press. 

Throughout the campaign, President Trump billed himself as a master negotiator who would make the "best deals" for the American people.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Republican from Clark County in southwestern Washington state, with her husband Dan Beutler and their baby Abigail in 2013. Abigail is the first baby to survive without kidneys.
File photo courtesy of the Beutler family

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington state Republican, knows what it’s like to have a sick kid.

Her little Abigail was born in 2013 without kidneys and was able to live because of multi-million dollar, cutting edge treatments — paid for by Medicare and health insurance, according to ABC News.

Updated at 9:48 p.m. ET

The White House issued an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday: Vote for the current GOP health care replacement plan or leave the Affordable Care Act in place and suffer the political consequences.

The Affordable Care Act's tax penalty for people who opt out of health insurance is one of the most loathed parts of the law, so it is no surprise that Republicans are keen to abolish it. But the penalty, also called the individual mandate, plays a vital function: nudging healthy people into the insurance markets, where their premiums help pay for the cost of care for the sick. Republican lawmakers think they have a better alternative.

surgery
Flickr Photo/Army Medicine

Information was released this week about how the Republican health plan would affect people in Washington. UW associate law professor Sallie Sanford spoke with Kim Malcolm about who loses the most.

Bill Radke speaks with Aaron Katz about the most dire predictions for how the Republican health care proposal will affect Washingtonians. Katz is a lecturer in health services at the University of Washington.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is calling the Republican healthcare plan in Congress “a disaster.” Inslee made his comments Wednesday as new projections on the impact to the state were released.

John Krahne received alarming news from his doctor last December. His brain tumors were stable, but his lung tumors had grown noticeably larger.

The doctor recommended a drug called Alecensa, which sells for more than $159,000 a year. Medicare would charge Krahne a $3,200 copay in December, then another $3,200 in January, as a new year of coverage kicked in.

Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/cVEJJh

Bill Radke talks to Mary Agnes Carey, senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News, about the American Health Care Act and how it will affect the way people are insured. 

U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Flickr Photo/Senate Democrats (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks to Senator Patty Murray about the House Republican's American Health Care Act that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 

A new report finds that the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion over a decade but would also leave 24 million more Americans uninsured during that same period.

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler
Flickr photo/Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (CC BY-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/K52qFP

Republicans are “moving so fast, with so little oversight” that the Obamacare replacement could have major structural problems, said Mike Kreidler, Washington state's insurance commissioner.

“We could actually see market collapse, certainly in the state of Washington, but I predict that that could even be across the country,” Kreidler said.


It took a lot to get to this point, but Republicans have released their long-awaited health care bill. (For more on the policy, check out the NPR health team's reporting over at Shots.)

The version that was released is likely to change as the bill goes through committees, but now that it's released, here are four potential challenges President Trump and Republicans face:

1. Health care is complicated

House Republicans unveiled their long-awaited replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act Monday night. They're calling it the American Health Care Act.

After years of waiting, it's finally here.

Amy Radil

Being a Daffodil Princess in Pierce County is not about winning a pageant. Kelty Pierce, 19, is emphatic on that point.

In recent days, several Republican lawmakers have faced crowds of constituents at town hall meetings around the country who are angry that they may be in danger of losing their health coverage.

At a session in Fremont, Shaine Truscott with SEIU-775 helps train "peacekeepers" for protests.
KUOW photo/David Hyde

In a Fremont conference room, about a dozen people pored over a hand-drawn map of the area around Republican Congressman Dave Reichert's office over in Issaquah. 

This is the specter currently haunting President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress: a left-wing Tea Party movement – led by paid protesters – that aims to disrupt their Town Halls and other public events across the country.


Mardie Rhodes of Sammamish was one of the people at the rally in Issaquah on Thursday.
KUOW photo/David Hyde

Protesters gathered outside Congressman Dave Reichert's office in Issaquah on Thursday, upset that he hasn’t scheduled face time with the public during the first Congressional recess since Donald Trump was elected president.

KUOW Photo/Kate Walters

Teen birth rates fell by 55 percent in King County between 2008 and 2015, according to officials.

County Executive Dow Constantine credits expanded access to long-lasting birth control and preventive care, as well as greater insurance coverage.

Swedish Hospital's facility on Seattle's First Hill.
Flickr Photo/Matthew Rutledge (CC BY 2.0)

Bill Radke talks to Mike Baker, investigative reporter for The Seattle Times about his investigation into the high volume of surgeries in the neurosurgery department at Swedish's Cherry Hill facility. He documented his findings in a report called "Quality of Care" published in The Seattle Times. 

Neon Sugar
FLICKR PHOTO/Adam Engelhart (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/fqv6q

A friend might try to talk you out of smoking cigarettes or your alcohol consumption, but would they criticize your sugar habit? What if they knew that not long ago scientists were paid to proclaim the dangers of fat when the facts pointed to sugar and carbohydrates?

President Donald Trump shakes hands with 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, his choice for Supreme Court associate justice in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

How would U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch handle the case of the Eastern Washington florist who refused to sell wedding flowers to a same-sex couple?

It’s not completely clear, but there are some hints, Slate writer Dahlia Lithwick told KUOW’s David Hyde.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has opened an inquiry into potential abuses of the Orphan Drug Act that may have contributed to high prices on commonly used drugs.

In a statement, Grassley said the inquiry is "based on reporting from Kaiser Health News" and strong consumer concern about high drug prices.

"My staff is meeting with interested groups and other Senate staff to get their views on the extent of the problem and how we might fix it," Grassley wrote.

Seattle & King County Public Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin
KUOW Photo/Katherine Banwell

Emily Fox speaks with Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health officer for Public Health-Seattle and King County, about how ending the Affordable Care Act will impact people of color.

There's a moment in the Broadway musical Hamilton where George Washington says to an exasperated Alexander Hamilton: "Winning is easy, young man. Governing's harder."

When it comes to health care, it seems that President Trump is learning that same lesson. Trump and Republicans in Congress are struggling with how to keep their double-edged campaign promise — to repeal Obamacare without leaving millions of people without health insurance.

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