Sneak Peek At “Secret” Senate Health Care Bill

It’s A Lot Like The House Health Care Bill, With One Big Difference

In order for the Senate to pass health care before July 4th, it needs to deliver a bill by today. According to the Washington Post, that Senate bill, written in secret largely by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his staff, ties federal insurance subsidies to income, not to age. That’s the opposite of what the House’s version does, and is closer to what’s in place now, under Obamacare.

Other than that, the Senate bill appears to be quite similar to the House’s, with deep cuts in Medicaid, (although it may propose doing those over a longer period of time,) and tax cuts for the wealthy. It also apparently contains the same “magic trick” the House included, allowing states to opt out of some federal regulations, which might allow insurance companies to stop covering pre-existing conditions.

Abortion Could Be The Issue That Prevents Bill From Passing Next Week

According to the New York Times, the Senate’s version of the bill will not ban people who receive federal tax credits from buying plans that cover abortion. The House’s health care bill does include such a ban.

The Times explains this has more to do with procedural rules than ideological principals. At the same time, if the Senate bill does not include an abortion coverage ban, it risks intense push-back from abortion opponents, and possibly ultra-Conservative politicians who were coaxed to get on board in the first place.

Medicaid Plan CEOs Say Republican Health Plan Will Have Severe Impact On Opioid Crisis

While most of the biggest health insurance companies remain silent, those that manage Medicaid health plans finally stepped up (or at least wrote a letter.)

In their letter to Mitch McConnell, the heads of 10 Medicaid health plan providers assert deep cuts in Medicaid will “worsen the opioid crisis.” They point out nearly 25% of opioid abuse treatment nationwide is currently paid for by Medicaid; more than 40% in states with the highest overdose rates.

While insisting they are not out to defend the “status quo”, the CEOs also charge the plan as currently written does not represent “meaningful reform….simply an enormous cost shift to the states.”

Some Insurers Pull Out Of Markets, Others Move In

Health insurance companies had until Wednesday to decide whether to participate in Obamacare marketplaces next year. Giant insurer Anthem pulled out of Indiana and Wisconsin.

At the same time insurer Oscar said it planned to expand coverage in places like Tennessee and Ohio. Oscar was co-founded by Jared Kushner’s brother, Josh.

Kushner’s On It! (Mideast Peace Edition)

Trump-whisperer Jared Kushner touched down in Israel in an attempt to revive Middle East peace talks. He was greeted warmly in separate meetings with Israel’s President Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Of course his involvement should raise all kinds of questions, like: the President’s son-in-law, really? Like: a real estate developer, really? Like: is it just because he’s Jewish? Like: can you imagine if this had been Chelsea Clinton’s (also Jewish) husband…?

But questions like that aren’t even asked anymore. Well, they are here.

ISIS Appears To Have Destroyed The Mosque Where It Was Born

Three years ago, ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stood at the Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, announcing he was establishing a caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Now Iraqi and U.S. military say ISIS has blown up that historic mosque, as it loses its grip on the city. Iraq’s prime minister calling it tantamount to “an official acknowledgment of defeat.” ISIS says the site was destroyed by U.S. bombers.

Everyone’s Blaming Pelosi (Again)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, despite playing no direct role in the Democrats’ Georgia special election defeat is nonetheless being blamed for it. The Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff was inundated with ads linking him to the California Representative and accusing him of having a San Francisco style.

Dragging Pelosi into contentious races isn’t a new page in the Republican playbook, it’s an old and very frayed page. It’s also often a play that works. Pollster Frank Luntz became a darling of the Republican party in large part because of his “discovery” in focus groups that Pelosi really rubs people the wrong way.

Trump’s Claims About “Rigged Elections” May Have Helped Him

Former Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson told the House Intelligence Committee one of the reasons the Obama administration was reluctant to release information about Russian hacking in the Presidential election, was because “one of the candidates….was predicting that the election was going to be rigged”. And so, if they made a statement they might be criticized for also “challenging the integrity of the election process.”

Johnson pointed a finger squarely at Russia’s President, saying the cyber-attacks were “at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself.”

In a separate hearing, Acting Deputy Undersecretary Of Homeland Security Jeanette Manfra said she’d seen evidence of Russian targeting of election systems in 21 states.

When Does Trump “Jump The Shark?”

Trump held a campaign-style rally last night in Iowa, where he returned to a lot of his greatest hits: “witch hunts,” “immigration”, “the wall,” “all we do is win, win, win.”

Last night we talked about how the lack of backlash in special elections may have to do with the fact that many people beyond his base, actually like Trump. A story in Salon follows on that theme, contending “buyers remorse” may never come, because as long as Trump continues to play to his base, he can always cobble together a bunch of party faithful and “irregulars” to push him to a win. Despite what we said yesterday, we’re not so sure about that.

The reason a lot of people like Trump may not be because they like his policies, but because he’s a great entertainer. And at some point that always wears thin. Then again, the Trump-hosted Celebrity Apprentice ran for 14 Seasons. That’s plenty more than two Presidential terms.


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