Jul 14, 2017

Senate health care bill is in moderates' hands

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

If the Senate's health care bill dies, moderate Republicans will likely be the ones who kill it. And the changes released yesterday won't do much to allay their biggest concerns.

Conservatives won some major policy changes yesterday, in the form of Ted Cruz's consumer-choice proposal. Moderates didn't: The bill's Medicaid cuts are just as deep, and the latest version didn't do much to cover more people or make coverage more affordable to older, sicker consumers.

So, what did the moderates get? Money:

  • $45 billion to fight the opioid crisis
  • An additional $70 billion to help stabilize insurance markets
  • One particular funding formula was also revised to benefit just one state: Alaska, home to undecided Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The change could net Alaska nearly $750 million over the next 10 years, according to Bloomberg's math.

"We're making it rain on them," one senior GOP aide told my colleague Caitlin Owens.

This is what worked in the House: Conservatives won structural changes to the Affordable Care Act's insurance regulations, and some additional money for states brought moderates on board. Will it work in the Senate?

  • Sens. Susan Collins and Rand Paul said definitively that they'd vote against bringing the bill to the floor, leaving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with no more votes to spare.
  • Sen. Mike Lee said he's undecided, but if he follows Cruz, the ball would be in moderates' court.
  • Other than Collins, the rest of the bill's moderate critics either stayed silent or said they're waiting for a score from the Congressional Budget Office.

What's next: We're expecting that CBO score early next week, though it may not include the biggest changes announced yesterday —Cruz's consumer-choice proposal. Even so, GOP leaders say the plan is still to hold a vote next week. Just like the plan from two weeks ago. Either way, expect plenty more haggling and last-minute changes over the next few days.

If the Senate takes up the bill: Watch Sen. John McCain. He says he's not happy because he didn't get his amendments to protect the Arizona Medicaid program. He'll try to change that.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 665,164 — Total deaths: 30,852 — Total recoveries: 140,225.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 124,665 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by early Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

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Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter Saturday the company is expanding access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir to include severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The big pig picture: President Trump has called the antiviral drug "promising," but the results of six clinical trials on this investigational medicine are still being conducted, so its effectiveness the treatment of the novel coronavirus has yet to be proved. The World Health Organization is involved in the tests.

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