d2a15e774bc18cb853734e210c82fc37.jpeg

John McCain predicts Republican healthcare bill will fail

Unpopular bill further imperilled after senators returned to their states and faced constituents strongly opposed to it

A senior US Republican senator has predicted that the bill to roll back Obamacare would probably fail, adding to growing signs that the bill is in trouble.

My view is that its probably going to be dead, John McCain said on the CBS program Face the Nation.

The Senate bill, which faces unified Democratic opposition, has been further imperilled during a week-long recess where several Republican senators have had to return to their states and face constituents strongly opposed to it. Senators return to Washington on Monday.

The Senate bill keeps much of Obamacare intact but strips away most of its funding. It repeals most Obamacare taxes, overhauls the laws tax credits and ends its Medicaid expansion. It also goes beyond repealing Obamacare by cutting funding for the Medicaid program beginning in 2025.

The White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said on Sunday on Fox News that President Donald Trump expected Congress to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The Republican senator Ted Cruz on Sunday said failure to pass the bill was not an option and the Senate effort had to focus on lowering premiums. He pointed to an amendment he offered that is being scored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which assesses the impact of legislation.

Cruzs amendment would allow insurers to offer plans that do not comply with Obamacares mandate that they charge sick and healthy people the same rates and that they cover a set of essential health benefits, such as maternity care and prescription drugs, as long as they also offer plans that do comply with the regulations.

The amendment has drawn the support of conservative senators and groups, who say the it will help lower premiums. But moderate Republicans and outside critics say it will erode protections for people with pre-existing conditions and make their insurance unaffordable.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, aims to hold a vote on the legislation, which needs the support of at least 50 of the Senates 52 Republicans, before a six-week recess that begins on 29 July.

Yet even McConnell cast doubt on the bills prospects for passage last week.

Speaking at a luncheon in his home state of Kentucky, McConnell said if Congress failed to follow through on a seven-year pledge to repeal Obamacare then it must act to shore up private health insurance markets, comments seen as providing a pathway to a bipartisan deal to fix the health system.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/10/john-mccain-predicts-republican-healthcare-bill-will-fail

d6a2ba2a427fc2a9ce966603a04473bc.jpeg

McConnell hints healthcare vote could fall short: ‘I’m a guy with a Rubik’s cube’

Senate majority leader spoke to impasse over key aspects of Republican bill at an event Thursday, but said no action was not an alternative

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday hinted that the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could fall short as conservatives and moderates in his conference remain at an impasse over key aspects of the bill.

Before leaving Washington for a week-long Fourth of July recess, McConnell delayed a vote on the Republican healthcare bill after it was clear there was not enough support for the plan, which would leave 22 million fewer people without health insurance over the next decade, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur, McConnell told constituents at a Rotary Club lunch on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

No action is not an alternative, he added. Weve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.

McConnells comments were quickly embraced by his Democratic counterpart, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

Its encouraging that Sen McConnell today acknowledged that the issues with the exchanges are fixable, and opened the door to bipartisan solutions to improve our healthcare system, Schumer said in a statement.

As weve said time and time again, Democrats are eager to work with Republicans to stabilize the markets and improve the law. At the top of the list should be ensuring cost-sharing payments are permanent, which will protect healthcare for millions.

McConnell faces a daunting task as he works behind the scenes with senators to craft a bill that bridges the ideological divide within his conference. Moderates, especially those from states that opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA (also known as Obamacare) are wary of scaling back spending on the health insurance program for low-income Americans, and conservatives are irked the plan does not go further to repeal the law.

Im in the position of a guy with a Rubiks cube trying to twist the dial in such a way to get at least 50 members of my conference who can agree to a version of repealing and replacing Obamcare, McConnell told Kentucky voters at a town hall-style event on Thursday, according to NBC. That is a very timely subject that Im grappling with as we speak.

Senate
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer holds up a photograph of constituents who would be adversely affected by the proposed Republican bill. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

An initial draft of the Senate Republican healthcare plan mirrors the structure of the House bill, which passed in May. The measure would repeal key pieces of the ACA while extracting deep cuts to Medicaid compared to spending under current law.

McConnell has since made changes to the bill, including adding $45bn to combat the opioid epidemic, among other adjustments. The CBO is expected to release another analysis sometime next week, a likely indicator that Senate Republicans will not vote on the plan until later this month.

On Thursday, a handful of senate Republicans echoed McConnells skepticism about whether the party would be able to reach an agreement on health care.

It is precarious, senator Ted Cruz, a conservative of Texas, said on San Antonios KTSA Radio. The majority is so narrow, I dont know if we get it done or not.

Senate Republicans are using a special budget process known as reconciliation to avoid a Democratic filibuster of the repeal plan. To pass the bill, Republicans need support from at least 50 of their 52 members. No Democrats are expected to support a repeal measure. In the case of a tie, vice-president Mike Pence would cast the final vote.

Cruz has offered an amendment that would allow insurance companies to sell non-compliant plans as long as they also offer at least one plan that does meet Obamacare standards. Experts on both sides of the political debate said such an action could devastate insurance markets.

Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas who surprised his party when he came out against the bill, told constituents in Palco that healthcare reform is almost impossible to try to solve when youre trying to do it with 51 votes in the United States Senate, in which there is not significant consensus on what the final result ought to be.

As the debate over healthcare rages, Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican of Pennsylvania who supports the bill, suggested during a televised town hall on Wednesday that McConnell was several weeks away from winning enough support for a vote. Asked why Republicans were struggling to fulfill a years-long campaign promise, Toomey offered a candid reply.

Look, I didnt expect Donald Trump to win, he said. I think most of my colleagues didnt, so we didnt expect to be in this situation.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/06/republican-healthcare-bill-mitch-mcconnell-vote-delay

b97c38733cd18cd6c5894cea002dbbfe.jpeg

Activists cry cowardice as Republican senators shut doors to healthcare town halls

Pat Toomeys closed-door talk saw him accused of not having the courage to speak to those affected, while Ted Cruz also faced dissent at his ticket-only event

At a town hall in Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, Republican senator Pat Toomey faced an angry protest over his role in the GOP healthcare bill, while Ted Cruz was heckled over his suggested amendment to the legislation at an event in Texas.

Scores of people gathered outside the ABC27 studio in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where Toomey was holding what had been billed as a town hall meeting.

But in reality just eight audience members were allowed into the invite-only event, and their questions had been pre-screened by the news channel.

The closed-door approach did not endear Toomey to the sign-waving protesters outside, who accused the senator of not having courage to speak to people who would be personally affected by the Senate healthcare legislation he helped to write.

Cruz, meanwhile, was heckled at what in theory should have been a safe event; a ticket-only town hall veterans discussion hosted by Concerned Veterans for America a rightwing advocacy group financed by the Koch brothers.

Audience questions for Cruz at the event in McKinney, north of Dallas, had been screened in advance by the CVA, but two audience members went rogue to quiz and interrupt the Texas senator over his proposed tweak to the Senate bill.

The Better Care Reconciliation act, which the Congressional Budget Office says would leave an additional 22m people without healthcare, is currently stuck in the Senate without enough votes to pass. Cruzs amendment would allow insurance companies to sell plans that do not include the Affordable Care Act (ACA)-mandated essential health benefits, in a move he claims would reduce costs.

At the town hall, however, Cruzs adversaries repeatedly shouted him down as he attempted to defend his measure.

When you mandate what every policy has to cover you drive up the cost of insurance, Cruz said, which means fewer people can afford healthcare. The essential health benefits also made people pay for coverage that they dont necessarily want, he said.

Its all fine and good to mandate that everybody get coverage for everything at all times, but what happens in practice is the prices go so high that people are left out in the cold.

Ted
Ted Cruz also faced heckling at a ticket-only town hall event in Texas. Photograph: ddp USA/REX/Shutterstock

Some 1,300 miles to the north east, Toomey was being given a much easier ride from the eight attendees at his town hall. The majority of the questions from that crowd, as well as from small groups of people invited into the studios of three other ABC affiliates in Pennsylvania, focussed on healthcare, but there was no heckling and no follow-up questioning.

Asked about the damaging CBO score, Toomey accused the organization of bias and said that its calculations were based on wildly speculative assumptions that I think are extremely likely to come to pass.

Toomey denied that the process of drafting the bill which has no public hearings had been overly secretive, but was non-committal over whether he supported repealing the ACA without a replacement.

The senator was asked the question twice, both times saying that he believed the scenario was unlikely.

I just dont think there are enough votes in the senate to pass that, Toomey said. I just dont think its going to come to pass.

Meanwhile, outside the studio about a hundred people noisily protested both the senators role in the unpopular healthcare bill and his refusal to hold a truly public event.

We want Toomey to come home on his recess and actually speak with constituents, instead of doing telephone town halls or televised town halls where he doesnt have to interact with the people hes supposed to be representing, said Katey Dyck in a phone interview, who travelled two hours from her home in Fort Washington, just north of Philadelphia, to attend the protest.

Hes dismantling our healthcare system without having the courage to speak to people who would be personally affected.

Dyck travelled to Harrisburg with her two children and two friends, one of whom, Alison Fraser, was arrested after staging a sit-in at Toomeys Washington DC office last week.

There are issues with the ACA. There are things they can do to bring down costs, Fraser said.

But they cant just dismantle this bill that has really done so much to protect people, and make sure people arent discriminated against because of pre-existing conditions.

Also among the protesters was Josh Burkholder, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for US congress in Pennsylvanias fourth district last November.

Theyre giving a huge tax break to the 1% here, Burkholder said, also by phone, of the Senate legislation.

Its just awful. Making a giant tax break for the ultra rich while simultaneously pulling the rug out from under the poor of the country is just disgusting.

The majority of Senate Republicans have so far ducked interactions with the public during recess week supposedly a time for elected officials to return to their districts and meet with constituents.

The Washington Post reported that just four GOP senators planned to attend Fourth of July parades, while only three Cruz, Bill Cassidy from Louisiana and Jerry Moran from Kansas are scheduled to hold public town halls.

Cruz and Moran are openly opposed to the Senate bill while Cassidy has said he is concerned and has put forward an alternative to the plan.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/05/pat-toomey-ted-cruz-healthcare-bill-protest

10c2abbe896ee27081fc84fdf945043c.jpeg

Mom shares the crushing cost of her son’s medical care before the Senate votes on healthcare bill

Before the Senate votes on its bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, many people are sharing stories of how the bill would affect them.

One story struck a chord with thousands of Twitter users this weekend. The mom of 3-year-old Ethan Vikash shared a photo of a medical bill for her son’s open heart surgery. The 24-line item bill came to $231,115 for 10 hours in surgery, one week in the hospital’s cardiac intensive care unit, and one week on the hospital’s cardiac floor.

With insurance, Ethan’s family only had to pay $500 out-of-pocket. But if Congress passes a healthcare bill that imposes lifetime caps on what insurance companies will cover, families that deal with childhood illnesses or heart conditions like Ethan’s would be well beyond priced out of life-saving care.

The thread covering the cost of Ethan’s healthcare got turned into a Twitter moment.

The story resonated with thousands of Twitter users who are scared about what will happen if Congress and President Donald Trump gut the Affordable Care Act’s restrictions on lifetime caps.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/24/twitter-moment-lifetime-caps-healthcare-gop/

caa10416e60005beeb92b2e95405b243.jpeg

The Resistance Now: activists say ‘hell no’ to Republican healthcare bill

Progressives sprung into action with dozens protesting outside the Senate majority leaders office, while Democrats took stock after Ossoffs loss


So about that healthcare bill…

Dozens of people were arrested after protesting outside Senate majority leader Mitch McConnells office on Thursday including some in wheelchairs as Republicans unveiled Republicans unveiled Trumpcare 2.0 (or are we on 3.0 now?).

Activists from disability rights organization Adapt gathered outside McConnells office to demonstrate against the bill, which would dramatically cut Medicaid and strip funding from Planned Parenthood, to name just two measures.

A
A protester is led away by police on Thursday. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Progressive organizations sprung into action to try to defeat it.

Our Revolution set up a page on its website urging people to take action to stop AHCA [the Senate bill is called the Better Care Reconciliation Act but many of the principles are the same as the AHCA House bill] and prevent millions from losing their healthcare.

The organization has provided a number which will connect people to their Senators office, and has also provided some talking points.

AHCA would leave 23 million Americans without healthcare.

The bill would allow insurance companies to discriminate against patients and deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

A majority of voters strongly oppose repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).

Americans want to expand healthcare, not gut it. In fact, two-thirds of Americans support Medicare for all.

Indivisible has its own page too, where people can submit amendments to their senator. This is about applying your constituent power directly to the process, Indivisibles website says. They also have an extensive list of reading material and a script people can use when talking to their representatives.

Ossoff: doomed from the start?

Thats what a number of progressives told the Guardian, after the 30-year-old lost to Republican Karen Handel in Tuesdays special election.

Jon Ossoff ran on a centrist, Clinton-esque platform that focussed on rather beige, uncontroversial issues like government waste. There was no talk of universal healthcare and little of welfare issues. He ran in what has traditionally been a Republican stronghold, and lost by only five points, but Ossoff was basically the opposite of the kind of populist candidate the left believes is the way forward.

Hes not in favour of single-payer healthcare, hes not outspoken on campaign finance reform, said Moumita Ahmed, founder of Millennials for Revolution. Why would I as a Republican vote for someone who isnt a Republican, but still has the same values as a Republican?

Jon
Ossoff plus balloons. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Winnie Wong, from People for Bernie, said Ossoffs run the election was the most expensive House race in history, by the way was a massive failure of Democratic party leadership.

He didnt have a core progressive message and that ultimately is why he lost. The Democratic party could spend $100m and he would still lose. Because he didnt stand for anything.

but there is hope for a Brand New Congress

Thats the name of a group that selects, trains, supports and promotes progressives who want to run for Congress.

Brand New Congress (BNC), formed in April 2016, currently has 14 candidates who have announced their 2018 mid-term campaigns, including several who are running against incumbent Democrats.

We essentially provide full service campaign service, BNCs Corbin Trent told the Guardian this week. Brand New Congress manages press request, helps with events and ballot access, does opposition research on incumbents, and can even help with speechwriting.

Brand New Congress has organized a weekend canvassing kick off for its candidates (who are from across America) on Sunday. Each of the candidates all of whom are running on progressive platforms are holding events to boost their campaigns.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running against incumbent Democrat Joseph Crowley in New Yorks 14th congressional district, organized for the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016.

We have the capacity and opportunity to be ambitious in legislation, Ocasio-Cortez told the Guardian. Because the world is changing in ways weve never seen before.

What were reading

  • Were in the midst of an all-hands-on-deck emergency, writes Rebecca Solnit, in which new groups and coalitions are emerging along with unforeseen capacities in many people who didnt previously think they were activists. Solnit says there are extraordinary things happening in this moment, in an uplifting survey of the activist land.
  • Progressives should try to speak conservative to score victories, historian and LGBTQ strategist Nathaniel Frank writes in the LA Times. He says the successes of the LGBTQ movement came when activists learned to speak the language of those they most needed to enlist rather than those who already agreed with them.

Ron Swanson reimagined as Berniecrat progressive

Parks
Parks and Recreations Ron Swanson … an eerie doppelganger for a Democratic candidate whos making headlines. Photograph: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Randy Bryce, known as @IronStache on Twitter, sprung to fame this week when he announced his challenge to Republican house speaker Paul Ryan. In his favour? An evocative campaign advert, a leftwing message, and the mustache, denim and workboots of an all-American.

That masculine, blue-collar image prompted one Twitter user to suggest Bryce was genetically engineered from Bruce Springsteen songs, while several people compared the Democrat to the Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson. Just not a libertarian.

Randy
Randy Bryce is running for Paul Ryans seat in Congress. Photograph: YouTube

Sign up for weekly news updates about the protests and activism in the US

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/23/resistance-now-newsletter-healthcare-jon-ossoff

fb3ad3dea9aa234347e3d18c5578f9f2.jpeg

Georgia special election: Republican Karen Handel beats Jon Ossoff in runoff

Sporadic downpours and flash flood warnings helped to put a damper on Democratic turnout in base precincts

In Georgia the resistance was stopped by the rain on Tuesday when Jon Ossoff, long the best hope of Democrats to win a special election in the Trump administration, suffered a narrow loss to Republican Karen Handel in the Sixth Congressional District.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Handel had 52.4% and Ossoff had 47.6%

Sporadic downpours and flash flood warnings helped to put a damper on Democratic turnout in base precincts and on the hopes of progressives to thwart Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Combined with an energized Republican base that kept Ossoff from accumulating a significant lead among early voters, it doomed the hopes of the anti-Trump activists who made the first time Democratic candidate a minor political celebrity.

The runoff came after a first round of voting in April where Ossoff won just over 48% of the vote and Handel finished second in a splintered Republican field with just under 20% of the vote. However, Ossoff struggled to match that total as Handel consolidated the Republican vote in a traditionally conservative district in the northern suburbs of Atlanta andended up falling a percentage point short of his much hyped performance in the first round of voting.

Trump took to Twitter to hail the result as a personal victory Thank you @FoxNews Huge win for President Trump and GOP in Georgia Congressional Special Election.

The seat had been vacated by Tom Price when the former congressman joined Trumps cabinet to become secretary of health and human services and previously held by Republican stalwarts like Senator Johnny Isakson and former speaker Newt Gingrich. Although Price won by 23% in 2016, Donald Trump only narrowly won this wealthy, well-educated district by just over 1%.

Trumps narrow win sparked optimism among Democrats that the district, where nearly 60% of residents have a college degree, could flip as part of the political realignment around the presidents upset victory in 2016. Roughly $50m ended up being spent by both parties and allied groups in the race as it became the most expensive congressional campaign in the history of the United States.

However, while Democrats had motivated their base and won over skeptical Republicans, the conservative slant of district proved too much even for the nearly unprecedented resources that Democrats invested in the race, even flying in volunteers for last minute doorknocking as local television stations had been saturated by 30-second advertisements.

Although the race had been cast a referendum on Trump an opinion the President seemed to endorse after the result had been reported both candidates awkwardly danced around his looming presence on the campaign trail. At Handels campaign events, Trumps name went unmentioned by the candidate and introductory speakers. Instead, there was constant refrain of attack on Ossoff for his ties to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and praise for previous holders of the seat like Price and Gingrich. Ossoff was regularly bashed for the amount of money he raised out of state and for having San Francisco values.

Handel, who suggested in the first televised debate of the campaign that Trump should use Twitter less often, told the Guardian in an interview on Monday that she didnt pay attention to the presidents use of social media. She said I am focused on my campaign, I have precious little time to be on Twitter. Several hours later, her campaign sent out a fundraising email signed by the former secretary of state with the subject line did you see what Trump just tweeted? after the President used his ubiquitous social media account to tout her campaign.

Ossoff has also been measured in his attacks on Trump in a traditionally Republican district albeit one that the president barely won in 2016. Instead, the lanky and measured political neophyte focused on banal and politically non-controversial issues like government waste and turning Atlanta into the Silicon Valley of the South and let the progressive anti-Trump enthusiasm of the Democratic base carry him.

Instead, he has focused on Handels stint as Georgia secretary of state as well as her brief stint with the Susan Komen Race For The Cure, a charity which combats breast cancer, where she led an effort to cut off the organizations funding for Planned Parenthood. The decision sparked a major controversy and funding was eventually restored and Handel had to resign from the non-profit.

In an interview with the Guardian, Ossoff slammed his opponent. Secretary Handels record as secretary of state is extremely weak perhaps because she was too busy preparing her next run for higher office to do her job. She quit her job early to run for higher office, as so many career politicians do. Her last significant private sector experience, her performance also lacked.

The issue of civility and the growing toxic nature of American political culture became an issue late in the race in the aftermath of the shooting of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. Handel pointed to social media and journalism as reasons for the decline of civility in American society in an interview with the Guardian. Journalism is not journalism any more, said Handel. Ossoff stuck to broader themes, telling the Guardian, this is a deep rooted problem in American politics right now which is going to take work and bipartisan commitment to trying to heal wounds and focus on substance instead of fear mongering and slander.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/21/georgia-special-election-republican-karen-handel-beats-jon-ossoff-in-runoff