Feb 17, 2017

Mitch McConnell says GOP will pass health and tax reform without Democrats

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Senate majority leader said today that Republicans will pass their health and tax agendas without Democratic votes, the Associated Press reports. This is a departure from GOP talk of eventually bringing Democrats to the table to help with reforms to the health care system after Republicans repeal Obamacare.

Reality check: Republicans can't do everything they want to on health care without Democratic votes, under Senate rules. They can do a lot through a process called budget reconciliation, which allows them to pass budget-related policy with just 51 votes. But they can't touch central elements of Obamacare, such as:

  • The law's ban on discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions, either through denying them coverage or charging them higher premiums.
  • The law's requirement that insurers offer a defined set of benefits, known as the essential health benefits.
  • The regulation on how much of an insurer's income can be profit.

Why this matters: All pieces of health care impact one another. If Republicans don't write their health plans while acknowledging the reality of what they can and can't do, they could cause massive chaos in insurance markets.

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Facebook spending $100 million to help news outlets in coronavirus crisis

Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook says it is spending $100 million to support news outlets around the world that have been impacted by the coronavirus, the company said Monday.

Why it matters: Whatever Facebook's motivation, this is a much-needed cash infusion at a critical time for the local news industry.

The next American struggle: Waiting out the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There are now a lot of known knowns about the coronavirus: It's here, it's spreading, it's stressing hospitals, it's crippling the economy, it's slowed only by distance and isolation — and it's sure to get much worse before it gets much better. 

Why it matters: Similarly, there is a sameness to the patterns and known unknowns. So now we hit the maddening stage of waiting.

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Coronavirus pushes traditional businesses into the digital age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A slew of old-line industries that once hesitated to embrace digital technologies are now being forced to do so for the sake of survival.

Why it matters: Once consumers get used to accessing services digitally — from older restaurants finally embracing online ordering, or newspapers finally going all-digital — these industries may find it hard to go back to traditional operations.