Mar 24, 2017

The state of Trumpcare: Failure is an option

Greg Ruben / Axios

Here's the reality that President Trump and Republican leaders are facing: They want to repeal Obamacare, but not the popular parts of Obamacare. But to the most conservative Republicans, and their supporters, repeal means repeal — which includes everything, whether it's popular or not.

That's why Trump and GOP leaders haven't been able to close the deal with the Freedom Caucus, and will have to try to steamroller them with today's vote. It's why they have the Koch brothers after them. And it's why, barring a miraculous turnaround, they're not getting any closer to a deal that can survive the Senate as well as the House.

Here's where things stand as of this morning:

  • The House is voting on Trumpcare today, whether they have the votes or not. Why? Because Trump told them to.
  • Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney "made it clear that they were done negotiating, and this is a conservative package that lowers costs," House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady told reporters last night. Jonathan Swan has great details of how Trump's ultimatum went down.
  • The big concession White House and GOP leaders are making to conservatives: They're going to get rid of Obamacare's "essential health benefit" requirements, which were untouched in the original bill. Under the new language, states would define them.
  • But the Freedom Caucus wanted to go beyond that, into the rest of Obamacare's insurance regulations — which include popular things like covering anyone with pre-existing conditions, making sure sick people can't be charged more, coverage of young adults, coverage of preventive care, and standards for how much of a person's medical expenses are covered.
  • If Trump and GOP leaders had agreed to wipe out the pre-existing condition coverage, they would have lost one of their main pitches for the Republican plan: Don't worry, sick people will still be covered. "I think that's been something that he's been very clear needs to stay in there," White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.
  • But Freedom Caucus members and other conservatives say all of the insurance regulations make insurance more expensive — so to be consistent, they should all go. (Freedom Caucus member Mark Sanford's Obamacare replacement bill would deal with pre-existing conditions by giving sick people two years to enroll in coverage.)
  • The Washington Post reports that Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows wanted to get rid of not just the rules against charging more for sick people, but also provisions that most Republicans have sworn they would never touch, like the ban on annual and lifetime limits on health benefits.
  • Meadows was still a "no" as of last night.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,414,738 — Total deaths: 81,259 — Total recoveries: 298,642Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 387,547 — Total deaths: 12,291 — Total recoveries: 20,395Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship — Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill.
  4. Business latest: America's food heroes in times of the coronavirus crisis. Even when the economy comes back to life, huge questions for airlines will remain.
  5. World latest: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  6. Wisconsin primary in photos: Thousands gathered to cast ballots in-person during the height of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.
  7. 1 Olympics thing: About 6,500 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Games will keep their spots in 2021.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers 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.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Airline industry braces for a forever-changed world

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The airline industry got a $58 billion lifeline in the coronavirus federal aid package. But the path is unclear for these companies, whose operations and prospects will be forever changed by the global pandemic.

Why it matters: People may want to minimize travel for the foreseeable future. Investors, analysts and industry watchers are trying to determine how much airlines will need to spend — and how much more in lost revenue they'll see — while they adapt to the new reality.

Trump denies seeing Navarro memos warning about toll of coronavirus

President Trump said at a press briefing Tuesday that he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning in January and February that the coronavirus crisis could kill more than half a million Americans and cost close to $6 trillion.

Why it matters: Trump insisted that despite not seeing the memos, he did "more or less" what Navarro suggested by banning non-U.S. citizens from traveling from China effective Feb. 2.