Aug 11, 2017

MacArthur and Meadows working on ACA stabilization package

AP file photo

Reps. Tom MacArthur and Mark Meadows are working together on an individual market stabilization package, according to a senior GOP aide. It will include funding for the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, although it's unclear for how long. While the duo has ideas for the rest of the package, they're open to input — especially from the Senate, where they're actively courting support.

The catch: One crucial piece, according to a second GOP aide, is an agreement on "very flexible 1332 waiver language" in exchange for CSR funding. The state waivers are an important priority for conservative Republicans. Discussions are currently only among Republicans, but could include Democrats in the future.

The goals of the package are to reduce premiums, stabilize the marketplaces and offer some kind of tax relief. They've had some discussions with individual senators, including one of the three Republicans who voted against the "skinny repeal" package (the aide declined to say which one). Serious discussions started sometime last week, after MacArthur approached Meadows about working together.

Context: Meadows and MacArthur — a former co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group — worked together on a waiver provision in the House ACA replacement bill that ultimately got it across the finish line. Since the ACA repeal effort failed in the Senate, Meadows has adamantly suggested that the fight to repeal the law isn't over, but this new effort suggests the Freedom Caucus chairman realizes the stakes of ignoring the individual market in the meantime.

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Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

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Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post at the end of the month, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

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