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'What The Health?' Farewell, Individual Mandate

The compromise tax bill emerging from Republican efforts in Congress appears to have jettisoned a number of contentious health-related changes. Still, it seems likely lawmakers will repeal the penalties for not having health insurance. That so-called individual mandate was considered a linchpin of the Affordable Care Act, but now it seems possible the rest of the health law could survive without it.

This week's "What the Health?" guests are:

Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News Joanne Kenen of Politico Alice Ollstein of Talking Points Memo Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times

They discuss these topics and other health news of the week, including the end of open enrollment for 2018 health insurance in most of the country.

Among takeaways from this week's podcast:

It looks like the Republican tax bill will not take away Americans' ability to deduct high medical expenses -- in fact, lawmakers might temporarily make the deduction more generous. The bill to restore the cost-sharing subsidies that helped some very low-income Americans pay for their out-of-pocket expenses appears to be losing steam as many people wonder if it's too late. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? With the Trump administration's changes to the ACA enrollment process, sign-ups could easily be lower than last year -- but even with those challenges, millions of people are enrolling. Medicaid officials could announce their decision soon on whether to implement work requirements for nondisabled adults in the program. Such a move, though, is sure to be highly litigated.

Plus, for "extra credit," the panelists recommend their favorite health stories of the week they think you should read, too.

Julie Rovner: Kaiser Health News' "Hospitals Find Asthma Hot Spots More Profitable To Neglect Than Fix," by Jay Hancock, Rachel Bluth and Daniel Trielli.

Joanne Kenen: The Naples News' "Florida's disposable workers: Companies profit from undocumented laborers, dump them after injuries," by Maria Perez.

Alice Ollstein:'s "The tax bill destroys an important part of Obamacare. The states can save it," by Nicholas Bagley

Margot Sanger-Katz: The New York Times' "How to Be a Smart Obamacare Shopper," by Margot Sanger-Katz and Haeyoun Park.

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to What the Health? on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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