Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Two major health insurance trade groups launched an unusually direct attack on Sen. Ted Cruz's insurance deregulation proposal tonight, warning Senate Republicans that it would damage the protections for people with pre-existing conditions — the one thing they promised not to do in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, America's Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said Cruz's proposal — which would let health insurers sell plans that don't comply with the ACA's regulations as long as they also sell plans that do — would let the narrower plans "cherry pick" healthy people, leaving less healthy people to face skyrocketing premiums in the old plans.

Key quote: "It is simply unworkable in any form and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions, increase premiums and lead to widespread terminations of coverage for people currently enrolled in the individual market."

Why it matters: This is remarkably blunt language for the usually cautious trade groups — and it suggests that they see disaster ahead if the proposal becomes law.

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33 mins ago - Health

Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, testifies during a September Senate hearing on COVID-19 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told the Journal of the American Medical Association on Wednesday he doesn't expect a COVID-19 vaccine to be ready until January 2021 or later.

What he's saying: Fauci said during the interview that the U.S. was in a "bad position" after failing to keep case numbers down post-summer. "We should have been way down in baseline and daily cases and we’re not," he said.

Hurricane Zeta makes landfall on Louisiana coast as Category 2 storm

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta is "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi with life-threatening storm surge, high winds, and heavy rain," per the National Hurricane Center.

What's happening: The hurricane was producing maximum sustained winds of nearly 110 mph and stronger gusts after making landfall on the southeastern coast of Louisiana as a Category 2 storm earlier Wednesday. By nightfall, Zeta had sustained winds of 80 mph with a wind gust of 104 mph.