Mar 25, 2017

The aftermath: There is no Trumpcare Plan B

Greg Ruben / Axios

President Trump likes to say that the easy thing to do would be to "let Obamacare fail" and blame the Democrats. Now, that might actually happen. It's the closest thing any Republican has articulated to a Plan B now that their repeal plan has gone down in flames.

The White House has been publicly insisting there was no Plan B in case the bill failed, and now that the bill has been pulled, it's pretty clear there's no backup plan now, either. "We're going to go back and figure out what the next steps are," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters at a press conference on Friday. A disappointed-looking House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Greg Walden was blunt with reporters: "This bill's done."

Trump put a more positive spin on it: He says he's going to wait for Democrats to come to him, and then they'll work on a new health care bill together. "They're going to reach out whenever they're ready," Trump said. But his message was the same: Democrats will come to him because Obamacare is about to have "a very bad year" with "explosive premium increases."

Why they're stuck: Republicans didn't spend any time discussing a backup plan because they didn't want to believe they needed one. "We have not discussed a Plan B. I'm being authentic and genuine. There's no backroom discussions ... This has been all-in," Republican Study Committee chairman Mark Walker told reporters this morning. One senior GOP aide told Caitlin Owens that Republicans "will have to do a lot of soul searching."

  • What's next: Trump says he's moving on to tax reform: "I think we have to let Obamacare go its way for a while."
  • Ryan's warning to Democrats: Don't gloat, because Obamacare's problems are "going to get even worse."
  • Ryan suggested there won't be any Republican efforts to help the law through its struggles, like the huge premium hikes in the last enrollment season: "It is so fundamentally flawed that I don't know that that is possible."
  • That could change now that the bill's defeat is a reality. If nothing else, Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price has promised other measures to relax Obamacare's rules through administrative actions, and there's no reason those measures couldn't go forward.
  • And it doesn't mean all Republicans will want to just give up and leave Obamacare in place. "If we stopped there, it would be an unacceptable failure of insight or perserverance," Freedom Caucus member Trent Franks told reporters this morning. "Sometimes the greatest victories of all happen at 12:01 instead of 11:59." But he couldn't articulate what the next step would be.

Reality check: There's really no such thing as "leaving Obamacare in place" under a Republican administration that hates it. The law has needed a tremendous amount of implementation funding and support from the Obama administration, and it's not going to get it under Trump and Price. And some of the problems in the insurance market have been caused by the loss of "risk corridor" payments for health plans with expensive customers — which were cut because of Republican opposition.

The new talking point: "If we can't change the law on our own, and the law is what Obama and [Nancy] Pelosi and [Harry] Reid passed, pretty hard to say it's the GOP's fault," the senior Republican aide said.

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

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