G.O.P. Health Bill Would Leave 23 Million More Uninsured in a Decade, C.B.O. Says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Protesters demonstrated outside the Capitol as Republican members of the House narrowly passed the health care bill this month. CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — A bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that narrowly passed the House this month would increase the projected number of people without health insurance by 14 million next year and by 23 million in 2026, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. That 10-year figure is slightly less than originally estimated.

It would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over a decade, less than the $150 billion in savings projected in late March for an earlier version of the bill. And in states that seek waivers from rules mandating essential health coverage, the new law could make insurance economically out of reach for some sick consumers.

“Premiums would vary significantly according to health status and the types of benefits provided, and less healthy people would face extremely high premiums,” the budget office concluded.

GRAPHIC

New C.B.O. Score: G.O.P. Health Bill Would Save Government Billions but Leave Millions Uninsured

A look at crucial numbers in the Congressional Budget Office report.

OPEN GRAPHIC

The new forecast of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Capitol Hill’s official scorekeeper, is another blow to Republican efforts to undo President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. The Senate has already said it will make substantial changes to the measure passed by the House, but even Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, is sounding uncertain about his chances of finding a majority to repeal and replace the health law.

Continue reading the main story

“I don’t know how we get to 50 at the moment,” Mr. McConnell told Reuters on Wednesday. “But that’s the goal.”

The new report from the budget office is sure to influence Republican senators, who are writing their own version of the legislation behind closed doors. The report provided fresh ammunition for Democrats trying to kill the repeal bill, which they have derided as “Trumpcare.”

 

Video

How the GOP Health Plan Would Treat the Sick

Reporter Margot Sanger-Katz examines high-risk pools, the controversy at the heart of the health care debate.

By ROBIN STEIN, MARGOT SANGER-KATZ and SUSAN JOAN ARCHER on Publish DateMay 24, 2017. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Watch in Times Video »

Republicans in Congress generally focus more on reducing health costs than on expanding coverage. Their proposals will inevitably cover fewer people than the Affordable Care Act, they say, because they will not compel people to buy insurance.

Republicans have been trying to repeal Mr. Obama’s health law since the day he signed it in March 2010. But the task is proving more difficult than they expected. Many parts of the law have become embedded in the nation’s health care system, and consumers have risen up to defend it, now that they fear losing its protection. At the same time, other consumers, upset about the mandate to buy insurance they can barely afford, are demanding changes in the law.

The budget office issued two reports on earlier versions of the House bill in March. Both said that the legislation would increase the number of uninsured by 14 million next year and by 24 million within a decade, compared with the current law.

GRAPHIC

The Parts of the Affordable Care Act That the Republican Bill Will Keep or Discard

A comparison of the amended bill with key components of the Affordable Care Act.

OPEN GRAPHIC

Republican senators appear as determined as ever to replace the health law.

“The status quo under Obamacare is completely unacceptable and totally unsustainable,” Mr. McConnell said Wednesday, a few hours before the budget office issued its report. “Prices are skyrocketing, choice is plummeting, the marketplace is collapsing and countless more Americans will get hurt if we don’t act.”

“Beyond likely reiterating things we already know — like that fewer people will buy a product they don’t want when the government stops forcing them to — the updated report will allow the Senate procedurally to move forward in working to draft its own health care legislation,” he added.

The instability of the health law’s insurance marketplaces was underscored again on Wednesday when Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, a nonprofit insurer, announced that it would not offer coverage under the law for 2018. The insurer lost more than $100 million in 2016 selling individual policies under the law, said Danette Wilson, the company’s chief executive.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday.CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

“This is unsustainable,” she said in a statement. “We have a responsibility to our members and the greater community to remain stable and secure, and the uncertain direction of the market is a barrier to our continued participation.”

While the vast majority of people the company covers get insurance through an employer or a private Medicare plan, Blue Cross of Kansas City covers about 67,000 people in Kansas City and western Missouri under the federal health care law. The company’s departure could leave 25 counties in western Missouri without an insurer, said Cynthia Cox, a researcher at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Democrats say much of that instability stems from Republican efforts to repeal and undermine the Affordable Care Act. The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, harshly criticized House Republicans for voting on their revised repeal measure without an updated analysis from the budget office.

“Republicans were haunted by the ghost of C.B.O. scores past, so they went ahead without one,” Mr. Schumer said. That action, he said, was reckless — “like test-driving a brand-new car three weeks after you’ve already signed on the dotted line and paid the dealer in full.”

The House repeal bill was approved on May 4 by a vote of 217 to 213, without support from any Democrats. It would eliminate tax penalties for people who go without health insurance and would roll back state-by-state expansions of Medicaid, which have provided coverage to millions of low-income people. And in place of government-subsidized insurance policies offered exclusively on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, the bill would offer tax credits of $2,000 to $4,000 a year, depending on age.

A family could receive up to $14,000 a year in credits. The credits would be reduced for individuals making more than $75,000 a year and families making more than $150,000.

Senior Republican senators say they want to reconfigure the tax credits to provide more financial assistance to lower-income people and to older Americans, who could face much higher premiums under the House bill.

The House bill would roll back a number of insurance requirements in the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans say have driven up the cost of coverage.

In the weeks leading up to passage of the House bill, Republican leaders revised it to win support from some of the most conservative members of their party.

Under the House bill, states could opt out of certain provisions of the health care law, including one that requires insurers to provide a minimum set of health benefits and another that prohibits them from charging higher premiums based on a person’s health status.

Insurers would not be allowed to charge higher premiums to sick people unless a state had an alternative mechanism, like a high-risk pool or a reinsurance program, to help provide coverage for people with serious illnesses.

Senate Republican have been meeting several days a week, trying to thrash out their differences on complex questions of health policy and politics, like the future of Medicaid.

Asked why Democrats had been excluded, Mr. McConnell said, “We’re not going to waste our time talking to people that have no interest in fixing the problem.”

Democrats have said they would gladly work with Republicans if the Republicans would renounce their goal of repealing Mr. Obama’s health care law.

Denver man arrested after removing transgender woman’s testicles

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

Denver man arrested after removing transgender woman’s testicles

DENVER — A man without a medical license was arrested after allegedly using an Army surgical kit to remove the testicles of a transgender woman at her apartment, the Denver Police Department said.

James Pennington, 57 of Denver, is alleged to have removed the testicles and sutured the opening while the woman’s wife watched the 90-minute procedure on Wednesday, May 17th, according to a probable cause statement.

RELATED: Probable cause statement

The surgical kit included a scalpel, Iidocaine, medical dressings and other medical equipment.

Pennington told the victim if any “complications” developed to call 911, according to the statement.

The wife called 911 about 2 p.m. after blood was coming from the incision.

Paramedics said the testicles could not be reattached because of the time between the procedure and the call to 911, police said.

A doctor with Medical Center of Aurora said the victim suffered serious bodily injury and “risk of permanent disfigurement,” according to the statement.

Pennington was interviewed by police on Thursday and, according to the probable cause statement, “confessed to completing this surgical procedure without medical license.”

Pennington was arrested for investigation of first-degree aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury. He is being held without bond.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office will make the final determination if charges will be filed.

Single-Payer Plan’s Price Tag in California: $400 Billion Per Year

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF KQED NEWS)

Single-Payer Plan’s Price Tag in California: $400 Billion Per Year

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It would cost the state of California an estimated $400 billion per year to cover all of its 39 million residents, according to a staff analysis by the state’s Senate Appropriation Committee.  That’s more than twice the state’s total annual budget of $180 billion.

But the main legislative advocate for single-payer, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), explained the state could get access to half of that amount, $200 billion, by shifting over what it already spends on Medicare, Medi-Cal and other state-run health services. That assumes the federal government would agree to let California re-route federal funds in that way.

To raise the other $200 billion, the state could implement a 15 percent payroll tax, according to the analysis, which was released Monday during a Senate Appropriations Committee in Sacramento.  It’s unclear how that tax might be split between the employer and the employee.

“Given this picture of increasing costs, health care inefficiency, and the uncertainty created by Republicans in Congress, it is critical that California chart our own path,” said Lara at the committee hearing.

“It will eliminate the need for insurance companies and their administrative costs and profits,” he added. “Doctors and hospitals will no longer need to negotiate rates and deals with insurance companies to seek reimbursement.”

At the hearing, Kyle Thayer, a paramedic who works in San Diego, urged the legislators to move forward with the plan.

“I see every single day the people that don’t have health coverage and the things that happen. Often they choose between one medicine and another, and end up in the back of my ambulance for something as simple as high-blood pressure medication,” said Thayer, a resident of Carlsbad.

His concerns were personal as well as professional, he said.

“My fiancee’s mother was trying to manage her blood pressure, and for a time wasn’t taking her medication, and she ended up with a stroke in the emergency room,” said Thayer. “It cost them all kinds of money.”

Opponents of the plan also spoke, including representatives of the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Association of Health Plans. Private health insurance companies would see their business model collapse in California in the face of a single-payer plan, which would be state-administered and not-for-profit.

“We don’t need to go backwards and start from scratch. This bill could have catastrophic implications for the health care system in our state,” said Teresa Stark, the chief lobbyist for Kaiser Permanente in California, which covers 8.5 million Californians.

“We share the goal of health care for all,” she explained, but added that a single-payer system would “dismantle Kaiser Permanente as we know it.”

Texas Advocates Release TV Ad Featuring Active Duty Police Officer and Victim of Marijuana Prohibition

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MPP WEBSITE)

Texas Advocates Release TV Ad Featuring Active Duty Police Officer and Victim of Marijuana Prohibition

May 04, 2017 , , , , , ,, , , ,


A television ad in support of a bill to reduce marijuana penalties in Texas will begin airing Friday, just days before the state House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure. It can be viewed here.

The 30-second spot features Nick Novello, an active duty police officer and 23-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, and Heather Jackson of Houston, an ovarian cancer survivor who was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in El Paso in 2007.

“Arresting people for marijuana possession does not make our communities any safer,” Novello says in the ad. “It’s a terrible waste of police resources.”

Jackson notes that she was found with less than one gram of marijuana and spent a total of four days in jail. She was initially jailed for two days. She was forced to spend an additional two days in jail because she violated the terms of her probation by traveling from El Paso to Houston for treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“It has affected so many different things in my life,” Jackson says in the ad. She now has a criminal record that has prevented her from getting a teaching job.

The ad concludes by urging viewers to tell their legislators to support HB 81, a bipartisan bill that would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. A fourth offense would result in a misdemeanor punishable by only a fine. The measure passed out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee last month and is expected to receive a full vote in the House next week.

The ad is scheduled to air through Monday in Austin and through the weekend in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC.

Is House Speaker Paul Ryan As Delusional As President Trump On Health Care Issues?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

“We’re making very good progress, we’re going to go when we have the votes,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said about the GOP’s plans to push forward a health-care plan on April 26.(Reuters)

THE MORNING PLUM:

Republicans have once again shelved their plan to vote on replacing Obamacare, depriving Donald Trump of a fake accomplishment he had hoped to tout on the 100th day of his presidency (even if it had passed the House on the 100th day, there’s no telling what would have happened in the Senate). A lot of explanations are circulating: A rushed vote would have complicatedkeeping the government open; Republicans balked at opposition from the powerful AARP; poor messaging and GOP infighting; and so forth.

I’d like to propose another explanation. What if the GOP repeal effort once again failed because the Affordable Care Act has actually helped a lot of people, and this whole process has made that a lot harder for Republicans to deny?

GOP leaders said they put the latest version on hold because the votes weren’t there for it. The new changes had won over House conservatives who had previously objected, but many of the more moderate or pragmatic Republicans were still opposed. Indeed, the changes that swayed conservatives — which would have allowed states to scrap the requirement that insurers cover Essential Health Benefits and gut protections for people with preexisting conditions — appear to have made it harder for Republicans from less conservative and more contested districts (such as Colorado’s Mike Coffman) to support it.

If you read through the public statements of many of the Republicans who objected to the latest version, you’ll see a common thread. They say either that passing the new bill would drive up premiums for people with preexisting conditions (because it would allow insurers to jack them up); or that too many would lose coverage, partly because of the phaseout of the Medicaid expansion. A number of the Republicans who opposed it this time had previously made statements to this effect about the older version, and those objections were still operative.

“The reality is most of the moderate hard Nos were already opposed,” Matt Fuller, a reporter for HuffPost who has followed this more closely than anyone, told me today. In short, many Republicans objected to the new version on the grounds that it would take coverage away from untold numbers of poor and sick people.

Pelosi: A vote for Trump’s health-care push is ‘doo-doo’ on the shoe

 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the first 100 days of the Trump administration, grading him poorly on health care. (Reuters)

At the same time, though, many of these Republicans avoided openly crediting Obamacare with achieving the very protections for those with preexisting conditions and the vast coverage expansion via Medicaid that they now want to preserve. And they pledged to continue trying to repeal the law. These Republicans cannot affirmatively applaud Obamacare’s success in accomplishing ends they now recognize as imperatives, but they can stand up and say they won’t remove or badly weaken the provisions of it that are accomplishing those ends, provided they also say they’ll replace the law whenever some more acceptable alternative — which would also accomplish those ends — comes along.

The absurdity of this basic dynamic continues to elude direct recognition. Byron York reports that Republicans privately say that as many as 40 or 50 House Republicans secretly don’t want to repeal the ACA, and one key reason appears to be a lack of political courage. As one Republican puts it: “We have members in the Republican conference that do not want Obamacare repealed, because of their district.”

But the reason for this is not stated as forthrightly as I think it should be. Even if the primary motive here is that taking coverage away from people — and gutting protections for those with preexisting conditions — will alienate voters, this is just another way of saying that voters will recoil from efforts to roll back the help the law is providing to countless numbers of people. It is often said that taking away “entitlements” is politically difficult, which is true as far as it goes. But another way to say this is that even many Republicans now recognize that sustaining the law’s achievements is now imperative — and that Republicans have not come up with an alternative that would do this in a way that their public ideological pre-commitments permit. Of course, they can’t put it quite this way out loud.

No, Obamacare is not in a ‘death spiral’ — at least for now

 

Health-care experts say the Affordable Care Act is stable, but President Trump and congressional Republicans could push it over the cliff into a “death spiral.” (Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)

The GOP replacement is a non-starter for these Republicans partly because it is wildly regressive. It would roll back coverage for millions of people — 24 million in total; 14 million on Medicaid — while delivering an enormous tax cut to the rich. The polls and the angry town halls suggest that the public clearly decided it prefers the ACA — which is now in positive polling territory — to this alternative. Whether moderate Republicans are refraining from this alternative for moral, substantive or political reasons, the deeply regressive outcome that it would bring about is a key driving factor.

My point here is not that Obamacare doesn’t still have plenty of problems — it does — or that the GOP repeal push will never succeed. It very well may. But if it does, it will be either because Republicans finally figured out how to make their alternative less damaging to the ACA’s coverage expansion — which would be hard to do without alienating conservatives — or because enough moderate Republicans decided the moral or political risk of scuttling the law’s accomplishments on behalf of their own constituents is worth taking, for other reasons entirely.


* HEALTH BILL FAILURE IS A BLOW TO PRIEBUS: An interesting nugget buried in the New York Times overview of the collapse of the latest GOP health bill:

The lost opportunity was perhaps the biggest blow to the future prospects of Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, who has a long relationship with Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. Mr. Priebus had pushed aggressively for the House to schedule a vote this week, according to several people who spoke with him within the West Wing and on Capitol Hill.

Awww. This diminished a guy who demanded a rushed vote on a bill that would impact millions, solely so that Trump could boast of a fake achievement on his 100th day. So sad!

* TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDERS DON’T AMOUNT TO MUCH: The Post takes a comprehensive look at the executive orders that Trump has signed, and finds there is less there than meets the eye:

More than half of the 29 orders issued as of Thursday have merely called for reviews, have commissioned reports or established panels to issue recommendations. The documents lay out a dizzying schedule of 90-, 120- and 180-day increments for federal agencies to evaluate the feasibility of White House policy goals and report to the president. They hardly represent the immediate action the president and his aides had heralded they would bring to Washington.

Trump really should hurry up and sign a half-dozen more between now and tomorrow (his 100th day).

* TRUMP SAYS ‘MAJOR CONFLICT’ WITH NORTH KOREA IS POSSIBLE: Trump, in an interview with Reuters, said this:

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely … We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult.”

One imagines that Trump sees this as shrewd positioning in an ongoing negotiation.

* TRUMP SAYS SHUTDOWN WOULD BE THE FAULT OF DEMOCRATS: Also in the Reuters interview, Trump had this to say about a possible government shutdown:

“If there’s closure, there’s closure. We’ll see what happens. If there’s a shutdown. It’s the Democrats’ fault. Not our fault. It’s the Democrats’ fault. Maybe they’d like to see a shutdown.”

A frequent Trump tactic is to always assert he has the upper hand regardless of reality, in order to make it so, but given that Republicans control everything, it’s hard to see how they’d skirt blame.

* IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT HUMORING TRUMP: Paul Krugman looks at all the ways in which Trump’s staff props up his falsehoods and fantasies — searching for “proof” Barack Obama tapped his phones; rushing out a one-page tax “plan” before the 100-day mark — and concludes:

Every report from inside the White House conveys the impression that Trump is like a temperamental child … being an effective staffer seems to involve finding ways to make him feel good and take his mind off news that he feels makes him look bad … Don’t pretend that this is normal … No, what we’re looking at here isn’t policy; it’s pieces of paper whose goal is to soothe the big man’s temper tantrums.

The rot of bad faith runs very deep with this White House, and it starts here.

* AND TRUMP EXPECTED PRESIDENCY TO BE ‘EASIER’: A final tidbit from the Reuters interview: Trump actually claimed that “this is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” That’s bad enough, but then this happened:

Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.

“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”

It was always about winning, and never about what would happen after

Forgive us, we did not know. Forgive him, he does not understand (JCC Bomb Hoaxer)

The parents of the JCC bomb hoaxer accused of a vast, relentless two-year campaign of vicious threats and internet crime do their best to explain the inexplicable

Source: Forgive us, we did not know. Forgive him, he does not understand

1st Malaria Vaccine To Be Tested In 3 African Countries

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

The World Health Organization announced on Monday that Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have been chosen to test the first malaria vaccine, which will be administered to hundreds of thousands of young children next year.

The vaccine, which has partial effectiveness, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives if used with existing measures, the WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said in a statement.

The challenge is whether impoverished countries can deliver the required four doses of the vaccine for each child.

The injectable vaccine, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to protect children from the most deadly form of malaria in Africa. The $49 million for the first phase of the pilot is being funded by the global vaccine alliance GAVI, UNITAID and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

It will be tested on children five to 17 months old to see whether its protective effects shown so far in clinical trials can hold up under real-life conditions. At least 120,000 children in each of the three countries will receive the vaccine, which has taken decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop.

Kenya, Ghana and Malawi were chosen for the vaccine pilot because all have strong prevention and vaccination programs, but continue to have high numbers of malaria cases, WHO said. The countries will deliver the vaccine through their existing vaccination programs.

Malaria remains one of the world’s most stubborn health challenges, infecting more than 200 million people every year and killing about half a million, most of them children in Africa. Bed netting and insecticides are the chief protection.

Sub-Saharan Africa is hardest hit by the disease, with about 90 percent of the world’s cases in 2015. Malaria spreads when a mosquito bites someone already infected, sucks up blood and parasites, and then bites another person.

A global effort to counter malaria has led to a 62 percent cut in deaths between 2000 and 2015, WHO said. But the UN agency has said in the past that such estimates are based mostly on modeling and that data is so bad for 31 countries in Africa — including those believed to have the worst outbreaks — that it couldn’t tell if cases have been rising or falling in the last 15 years.

WHO is hoping to wipe out malaria by 2040 despite increasing resistance problems to both drugs and insecticides used to kill mosquitoes.

“The slow progress in this field is astonishing, given that malaria has been around for millennia and has been a major force for human evolutionary selection, shaping the genetic profiles of African populations,” Kathryn Maitland, professor of tropical pediatric infectious diseases at Imperial College London, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine in December. “Contrast this pace of change with our progress in the treatment of HIV, a disease a little more than three decades old.”

Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East also have malaria cases.

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Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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GOP Rep Tells Mom Her Son On Medicaid Should Just Get A Better Job If He Wants Health Care

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

POLITICS

04/22/2017 07:56 pm ET | Updated 10 hours ago

GOP Rep Tells Mom Her Son On Medicaid Should Just Get A Better Job If He Wants Health Care

Rep. Warren Davidson also compared health insurance to a cell phone.

YOUTUBE
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), seated in the white shirt, tells a woman her son should get a job that provides health insurance if he wants decent coverage.

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) told the mother of a service industry worker who has benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that her son should get a better job if he wants decent insurance when Obamacare is repealed.

The woman, a constituent of Davidson’s in former House Speaker John Boehner’s old district, explained to Davidson at a town hall in Enon, Ohio on Tuesday night first covered by ShareBlue that her grown son lacked health insurance for four years, because his job in the service industry did not provide it. He received coverage through Medicaid when Obamacare expanded the program by offering to pick up almost all of the costs for states that lowered their eligibility thresholds.

She is now worried about President Donald Trump’s plan to rollback the landmark law’s Medicaid expansion, fearing it will leave her son with the bare-bones catastrophic health insurance, which, she said, is “basically no insurance at all.”

“Can you explain why my son and millions of others in his situation are not deserving of affordable, decent health care that has essential benefits so that he can stay healthy and continue working?” she asked.

Her son’s best route to getting decent insurance without Medicaid is to find work in an industry where employers provide it, according to Davidson.

“OK, I don’t know anything about your son, but as you described him, his skills are focused in an industry that doesn’t have the kind of options that you want him to have for health care. So, I don’t believe that these taxpayers here are entitled to give that to him. I believe he’s got the opportunity to go earn those health benefits,” he responded, eliciting boos from the crowd.

You can watch their full exchange at the 37-minute mark in the video above.

The woman’s reference to “essential benefits” alludes to the fact that House Republican leaders at one point tried to win over hardline conservatives by removing federal regulations requiring insurance plans to cover 10 basic benefits, including trips to the emergency room, as well as maternity and newborn care. In lieu of these benefits, low-premium, high-deductible catastrophic plans could cover even fewer procedures than they do now.

But Davidson implied that finding a better plan was as simple as shopping for a higher-quality consumer product like a cellphone.

“If he doesn’t want a catastrophic care plan, don’t buy a catastrophic care plan. If you don’t want a flip-phone, don’t buy a flip-phone,” Davidson said, eliciting loud groans from the audience.

“I’m sorry, health care is much different than a cell phone and I’m tired of people using cell phone analogies with health care,” the woman responded, before walking away from the microphone.

BILL CLARK/GETTY IMAGES
Rep. Warren Davidson represents former House Speaker John Boehner’s old district. He had a gruff response to a constituent’s question about Obamacare repeal.

Davidson’s metaphor resembled remarks by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who suggested in March that people should not buy iPhones if they wanted the money to pay for health insurance.

But as Davidson’s constituent noted at the town hall ― and many observers pointed out when Chaffetz said it ― buying health insurance is completely different than shopping for everyday consumer products.

Consumers do not have the same power to command lower prices for health care, since it is not a product they can choose to not have. People also often lack the information and resources to choose a health care provider based on its cost value.

Those are just a couple reasons why health insurance is wildly more expensive than paying for a phone bill ― and obtaining coverage would remain perilously out of reach for millions of Americans without help from the government.

That’s a big deal, because unlike phones, Americans’ lives would be at risk if they did not have health care.

Although President Trump and House Republicans have already failed to negotiate an Obamacare replacement bill at least twice, the White House is dead-set on trying again as part of negotiations to continue funding the government. The latest idea floated by budget director Mick Mulvaney would involve trading Democrats a dollar in Obamacare funding for every dollar they approve for construction of the wall.

[H/T ShareBlue]

Cherokee Nation Sues Opioid Distributors, Pharmacies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS AND NBC NEWS)

APR 20 2017, 9:04 PM ET

Cherokee Nation Sues Opioid Distributors, Pharmacies

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Cherokee Nation sued distributors and retailers of opioid medications on Thursday, alleging the companies have contributed to “an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse” within the tribe and have not done enough to prevent tribal members from acquiring illegally prescribed opioid painkillers.

The lawsuit alleges that six distribution and pharmacy companies have created conditions in which “vast amounts of opioids have flowed freely from manufacturers to abusers and drug dealers” within the 14 northeastern Oklahoma counties that comprise the Cherokee Nation.

The tribe argues the companies regularly turn a “blind eye” to opioid prescriptions that would require further investigation before pills are dispensed. The lawsuit also alleges the companies have pursued profits instead of trying to reduce opioid-related addition that has taken the lives of hundreds of Cherokee citizens and cost the tribe hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs.

“Defendants have created an environment in which drug diversion can flourish,” the lawsuit states.

Related: Trump Admin to Pay Cash Promised by Obama to Fight Opioid Crisis

The lawsuit, filed in the Cherokee Nation District Court, names as defendants distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp., and pharmacies CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

AmerisourceBergen spokesman Gabriel Weissman released a statement saying the company stops the shipment of orders it believes are suspicious.

“The issue of opioid abuse is a complex one that spans the full health care spectrum, including manufacturers, wholesalers, insurers, prescribers, pharmacists and regulatory and enforcement agencies,” Weissman said.

Cardinal Health said in a statement that it will defend itself against the allegations and believes the lawsuit does not advance “the hard work needed to solve the opioid abuse crisis – an epidemic driven by addiction, demand and the diversion of medications for illegitimate use.”

Related: Chronic Pain Sufferers Are Scared by Ohio’s New Opioid Rules

CVS Health said it has stringent policies and procedures to determine whether a controlled substance prescription was issued for a legitimate medical purpose before a pharmacist fills it. Walgreens said it does not comment on pending legislation.

Wal-Mart and McKesson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit seeks to make the companies accountable for creating an oversupply of the drugs, said special counsel Richard Fields, an attorney for the tribe in Washington, D.C.

“We’re hoping that this case and others like it will put a focus on the supply is too great,” Fields said.

(IS JEFF SESSIONS THE BIGGEST IDIOT IN AMERICA OR IS IT ALL THE MONEY HE HAS EXCEPTED FROM THE BIG PHARMACEUTICALS AND THE ALCOHOL INDUSTRY THAT CLOUDS HIS MIND?)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

(IS JEFF SESSIONS THE BIGGEST IDIOT IN AMERICA OR IS IT ALL THE MONEY HE HAS EXCEPTED FROM THE BIG PHARMACEUTICALS AND THE ALCOHOL INDUSTRY THAT CLOUDS HIS MIND?)

Pot Advocates Worry Marijuana Protections Are Burning Down Under Trump

Marijuana advocates worried that President Donald Trump’s administration will crack down on state weed laws used the unofficial holiday celebrating the drug to call for a “joint session” of Congress — pun intended.

The pro-cannabis rights group DCMJ used April 20th — or 4/20 — to organize a free joint giveaway just steps from the Capitol in an effort to encourage Congress to reauthorize an expiring provision preventing the federal government from meddling in medicinal marijuana programs.

Even as approval ratings for legalized marijuana reach new highs, the new administration is pushing for pro-pot policies to go up in smoke.

Play
Marijuana Legalization Has Record-High Support in New Poll

A CBS News poll released Thursday found 61 percent of Americans support legal marijuana use, up five points from one year ago. More than 70 percent of Americans said they do not think the federal government should block marijuana sales in states that have legalized the drug.

Eighty-eight percent of Americans favor medical marijuana, the poll found.

Weed legalization has been a tricky subject for members of both parties as states continue to approve recreational use of the drug. Justice Department guidance under President Barack Obama called for prosecutors to enforce federal statutes outlawing the drug in a limited set of cases.

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime foe of marijuana, is reviewing the nation’s weed laws.

“I don’t think America will be a better place when more people, especially young people, smoke pot,” he said in February.

“It remains a violation of federal law,” he added.

Play
Sessions: ‘We Don’t Need To Be Legalizing Marijuana’

Homeland Secretary John Kelly as recently as Sunday on “Meet The Press” said, “Marijuana is not a factor in the drug war.” But he changed his tune in a speech just days later, vowing to uphold federal laws barring weed.

“Its use and possession is against federal law and until the law is changed by the United States Congress, we in DHS, along with the rest of the federal government, are sworn to uphold all the laws that are on the books,” he said.

Many states, however, have legalized some form of marijuana use. And its acceptance has increasingly become a bipartisan issue.

Pot giveaway @DCMJ2014 of 2joints to credentialed feds &cong staffers. Ron of DC is retired USArmy

Four members of the House of Representatives, two Democrats and two Republicans, announced the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in February to help integrate federal and state laws governing weed.

Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a co-founder of the caucus, said in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” on Thursday said he has issued clear warnings to the White House not to impede on what Oregon and other states have done to legalize the drug.

“We’ve pointed out repeatedly in the press and with advocate groups that marijuana got more votes than Donald Trump last November and that the American people are on our side,” Blumenauer wrote.

Support has come from even the opposite side of the political spectrum, like longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. “Don’t let Jeff Sessions’ draconian views on 420 run roughshod over states,” he tweeted to Trump Thursday.

Though recreational marijuana use is legal in the nation’s capital, it is not legal to consume it in public or to possess more than two ounces. And under federal law it is illegal to possess pot. Capitol Police said they arrested seven volunteers with DCMJ on Thursday, four for possession and two for possession with intent to distribute.

More arrests are expected on Monday when another demonstration is planned on the Capitol.

“Possession of cannabis on the Capitol grounds is not legal. Consuming cannabis anywhere in DC outside of a home is not legal either,” organizers warned in a statement announcing the protest. “But sitting quietly while the Trump administration rolls back our freedoms is not something we plan to do. We need to be loud and proud!”

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