Monday, July 17, 2017

Last Call For The True Price Of Trumpcare

Trump Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price went on ABC's This Week to defend Trumpcare, and tried to play it off as business as usual.  Price of course forgot that business before the Affordable Care Act meant insurance companies could regularly deny people insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions and could cut off care due to yearly and lifetime caps.  

Even insurance companies flat out said last week that under revised Trumpcare legislation that they would have no choice but to seek significant financial help from the government to keep offering policies, and that millions of policies would be disrupted.

Price's response: let's go back to 2008 when health insurance sucked.

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Price was asked to respond to a blistering criticism of the Senate Republicans’ health care proposal by two major groups representing the U.S. health insurance industry. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier this week, the groups called the latest version of the bill “simply unworkable in any form” and warned that it would cause “widespread terminations of coverage” to people with serious medical problems.

“It’s really perplexing, especially from the insurance companies, because all they have to do is dust off how they did business before Obamacare,” Price said, referring to an amendment proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would allow insurers to resume sales of policies that leave out key benefits, such as prescription drugs or mental health treatment.

“A single risk pool, which is what they’re objecting to, is exactly the kind of process that was ― that has been utilized for decades to care for individuals,” he added.

America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association of America, the two groups who wrote the letter, oppose the latest draft of the legislation. They say it would allow insurance companies to discriminate among customers based on medical status ― essentially causing insurance premiums for people with pre-existing conditions to skyrocket.

In discussing their health care plan, Republicans do not usually speak as candidly as Price about returning the nation’s health care system to its pre-Obamacare period, a period marked by egregious insurance company abuses. Protections for pre-existing conditions remain highly popular around the country, and GOP lawmakers are loath to admit their policies would weaken them.

Prior to Obamacare, 79 million — more than one in four Americans — either lacked health insurance or were underinsured. The poor, especially, lacked adequate coverage.

In his appearance on “This Week,” Price countered by arguing that the Trump administration would be taking further administrative actions on health care and that the Senate health care bill is “not the entire plan.”

Price isn't wrong about that last part: Trumpcare would give him phenomenal power over who gets health coverage in America. The bill would mean that Price would get the final decision about which states get Medicaid money and how much under the GOP's block grant scheme, and the decision would be his and his alone.

Remember "death panels"?  Tom Price would be a one man show.

Meanwhile, Trumpcare is going to be so awful that the White House is already attacking the CBO score of the revised Senate GOP bill before it's even out.

Keep calling your senators.

Your 2018 Math Check

I feel very good about the Democrats' chances in 2018 in the House of kicking Paul Ryan to the curb. The latest Cook Political Report check-in on the House finds alarm bells ringing for the GOP and it's still 16 months out.

This is a tricky point in the election cycle to begin making predictions. On one hand, the danger signs are everywhere for the GOP: President Trump's approval is mired in the high 30s, and support for the AHCA's legislation is stuck in the high teens, and Democrats have been significantly over-performing—despite falling short—in a broad array of special elections. They also lead most national generic ballot tests by high single digits.

Race by race, the data isn't much better for Republicans. Multiple public and private polls now show House Republican incumbents who won by wide margins last fall tied with or trailing real and hypothetical opponents. For example, GOP Rep. Martha McSally (AZ-02) cruised by 14 points last fall. After voting for the AHCA, she's running even in two surveys against former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, whose impending bid is the worst-kept secret in Tucson.

Taken as a whole, the evidence would seem to point to a wave election that would justify moving a slew of races into the Toss Up column and threaten GOP control of the House.

Trumpcare is killing them now.  Whether or not that will still be the case in November of next year, we don't yet know.  The Senate however is a different story, as the difficulties of the Dems winning the three seats they need are pretty manifest (enough that even James Carville can see it.)

Democratic operative James Carville is expressing doubt that his party will take back the Senate in 2018, saying Saturday that it would be “very, very difficult," to do so.
“I think right now most Democrats are trying to focus on the 2018 elections and trying to recruit people and keep incumbents, and you know I would say we have a pretty good chance of taking the House back. The Senate is very, very difficult,” Carville told John Catsimatidis on AM 970 in New York. 
“The problem in the Senate is we have a large number of seats we have to hold in states that Donald Trump carried. Indiana, Missouri, you know, places like that we have to hold seats,” he continued.

“The only places where we have an opportunity for pick up are, you know, Nevada is pretty good. After that Arizona is less good, then you’re down to Texas and Alabama, and for Democrats to win the Senate back, they have to pick up three seats,” Carville said.

Carville is of course talking about Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller and Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, who are both vulnerable, but after that the field turns to flipping either Ted Cruz in Texas or Luther Strange in Alabama, two races that the GOP are probably going to win.

On top of that, as I've said before, the Dems have to defend in ten Trump state races.   That's looking more and more likely now, but the notion of picking off Cruz or Strange is still a massive long-shot. Absolutely everything would have to go the Dems' way next November.  It's not impossible, but I would gladly take a successful defense of all Senate Democrats in 2018 plus flipping Heller's seat and call it spectacular.

It's possible that it completely collapses for the GOP in 2018, the way Trump's going.  We'll see.

Bibi Breaks Ranks With Donny

After the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany two weeks ago, Donald Trump announced that his major diplomatic win was a cease fire agreement in southern Syria with his new buddy Vladimir Putin.  The problem with that is if there's any US ally that isn't going to accept a Syria deal that keeps the Assad regime in Damascus it's Israel, and PM Benjamin Netanyahu is now openly blasting the deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday that Israel opposes the cease-fire agreement in southern Syria that the United States and Russia reached because it perpetuates the Iranian presence in the country. 
The prime minister noted that in his meeting with Macron, he made it clear to the French president that Israel was totally opposed to the cease-fire plan
A senior Israeli official who asked not to be named due to the diplomatic sensitivity of the matter said Israel is aware of Iranian intensions to substantially expand its presence in Syria. Iran is not only interested in sending advisers to Syria, the official said, but also in dispatching extensive military forces including the establishment of an airbase for Iranian aircraft and a naval base. 
"This already changes the picture in the region from what it has been up to now," the senior official said. 
Netanyahu discussed the cease-fire deal with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by phone Sunday night.

By openly voicing his opposition to one of the most significant moves the United States and Russia have made in Syria in recent months, Netanyahu made public a major disagreement between Israel and the two great powers that had until now been kept under wraps and expressed only through quiet diplomatic channels. 
U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed on the cease-fire on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg last week. In a tweet published shortly after the truce came into effect last week, Trump tweeted: "We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!"  
The U.S.-Russian deal included establishing de-escalation zones, otherwise known as safe zones, along Syria’s borders with both Jordan and Israel. Over the past month, Israel had held talks on this agreement with senior American officials, including Brett McGurk, America’s special envoy for the battle against ISIS, and Michael Ratney, the special envoy for Syria, both of whom visited Israel several times. 
During these talks, Israel presented a list of demands and voiced several reservations about the emerging agreement. Inter alia, Israel said that the de-escalation zones must keep Iran, Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias away from the Israeli and Jordanian borders and must not enable Iran to consolidate its presence in Syria. Israel also told the Americans it objected to having Russian troops policing the cease-fire in the safe zones near its border.

Of course Bibi is pissed.  Here he was finally getting what he wanted with a GOP president, rather than Obama, and Trump is screwing him over worse than Obama ever dared to dream of doing.  Trump giving into Russia and Assad on Syria is not exactly what Israel had in mind when Netanyahu and his party were celebrating Clinton's loss.  They thought they were going to get the keys to the kingdom, but Netanyahu's demands have been completely sidelined in favor of Moscow and Riyadh.

Like most of our allies, Israel is finding out that America first under Trump really means Russia first, and it's coming at the expense of our other long-time allies.

I'm betting they wish they had Hillary Clinton to deal with about right now.


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