Revised Senate Health Care Bill Offers Major Concessions To The Far Right, Gratuities To Moderates

The Changes

Most significantly it swallows the so-called “Cruz amendment” hook, line and sinker. That allows health insurers to issue pretty much any type of policy they like, as long as they also offer one that complies with the health care law. Those new non-compliant policies could feature no coverage for preventive medicine, no essential health benefits, no coverage for pre-existing conditions, no coverage for prescription drugs.

The Washington Examiner has a somewhat dry list of the 9 Obamacare requirements insurers would no longer have to bother with under the Cruz plan, but it’s a good illustration of how brutal and stark it is. The best overall analysis we found is anything but dry: a Vox piece entitled “The new Senate health bill is terrible for anyone who is sick, has been sick, or will be sick”.

USAToday has a very good review of changes to the proposed bill in an FAQ format. The New York Times has an excellent analysis of what parts of Obamacare the new plan repeals outright, changes, or keeps.

The Politics

The President continued this morning to show support for a Republican bill, any bill, seemingly with complete disregard for what’s in it. Four Tweets (so far), and they’re all essentially the same: Republican Senators better “come through as they have promised” and he’ll be waiting for them, “pen in hand.

2 Republican Senators: Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Maine’s Susan Collins are, for now at least, confirmed “no” votes. For completely different reasons: Paul wants a down-and-dirty Obamacare repeal, and says this bill isn’t it. Collins feels it’s too harsh in its cuts to Medicaid and other programs. At least 7 other Republicans are undecided. But there’s a little time even if the vote is rammed through: the CBO needs a few days to look it over and revise impact estimates.

Some of the bait being used to lure reluctant Senators is very specific: for instance, a measure in the rewritten bill allows states with premiums 75% higher than the national average take 1% off the top of a $132-billion insurance stability fund. No coincidence Alaska is the only state that would qualify. And no coincidence Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski has been outspoken in her dissatisfaction with the way the Senate bill has been drafted.

The bill also includes the $45-billion in funds for opioid addiction treatment originally requested by Ohio’s Rob Portman, up from $2-billion in the original version.

And Once Again, Lawmakers Protect Their Health Better Than The General Public

Vox’s intrepid Sarah Kliff finds an obscure, almost indecipherable provision in the newest version of the bill that would require insurance companies to cover a wide array of benefits for members of Congress and their staffs, even if they can now offer plans without those benefits to everyone else.

Trump Gets Chatty

Despite not having a full blown news conference since February, President Trump engaged in an informal, wide-ranging discussion with reporters on Air Force One on his way to France. Originally, the White House said that conversation was off the record. But after Trump asked a New York Times reporter why she hadn’t reported on what he said, the White House released a partial transcript of the President’s remarks.

• The first thing that jumps out at us was how many times Trump mentions Hillary Clinton: 9 separate times to be exact. (We counted.) Mostly in the context of how he’s doing a better job on a given issue than Hillary would’ve done. For example: “I’m a tremendous fracker….Hillary was going to stop fracking….If Hillary got in, your energy prices right now would be double.”

• Trump doubles down on what we led with yesterday: reiterating he asked Putin once about whether he meddled with the U.S. election, and then again “in a totally different way” to which Putin replied “absolutely not.” When asked by a reporter what that “totally different way” was, Trump chose to answer by reiterating his “very interesting point” that “somebody” told him: if Putin was involved “you wouldn’t have found out about it.”

• He also calls Donald Jr a “good boy” and continues to argue “most people” would’ve taken a meeting that offered discrediting information on a political rival. Let’s say Trump is completely right about this. What Trump Sr. always neglects to mention is the person setting up the meeting with his son identified the source as a representative of a rival foreign government.

Trump in Paris. Melania’s Smiling!

Trump Says He’s Already Started Building His Wall

We have been pointing out for months that there already is a wall in place across 600 miles of the border with Mexico. And since not many people seem to know about it even now, Trump should just take credit for it, and be done with it.

Finally, the President seems to be moving in that direction, telling reporters he has, in effect, already started building because “we have some wall that’s already up that we’re already fixing….It’s already started…..So in a true sense, we’ve already started the wall.”

He also said he wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted to put solar panels up to help it pay for itself (until Mexico does). He also said the wall needs to be transparent, not solid, which is pretty much a description of a lot of what’s in place right now.

The President has an odd explanation for a see-thru wall: smugglers might routinely throw 60 lb sacks of drugs over it, and he doesn’t want anyone on the other side accidentally getting hit in the head. We are not making this up. (And also, then they’d need health care.)

Just How Frayed Are Nerves Getting In Trump’s Inner Circle?

It was “the end of a very long day that at 10 p.m. was not yet over.” That’s how a spokesperson from Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz explained the lawyer’s profanity-laced, brutally threatening email exchange with someone he apparently does not even know. The Kasowitz tirade included gems like “watch your back, bitch.”

The unidentified stranger had originally sent a message to Kasowitz suggesting he resign. That’s after ProPublica reported Kasowitz is not seeking government security clearance, speculating that might be because of past problems with alcohol abuse.

We are familiar with security clearance procedure, and we find it interesting (and sensible) that one of the most serious lines of investigation is always whether there’s a danger the applicant might get drunk and “spill the beans.”

“This is one of those times where one wishes he could reverse the clock, but of course I can’t”, Kasowitz further said.

Here’s The Next Clip In Our Serialization Of The Senator Al Franken/David Letterman Series

This one discusses how coal mining jobs aren’t being threatened by climate scientists, but by natural gas and automation.

You can watch the whole series all at once on Funny or Die.