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Giphy

These are the two most important things happening right now, and they're going to lead to big problems if the tension isn't resolved:

  • Republicans are increasingly saying they're not in a rush to replace Obamacare — because it's more important to get it right.
  • Insurers really, really want to know what's coming next.

You could hear the new, laid-back pace in the way committee chairmen talked about Obamacare this week. "We're going to take the time to get this right," House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Greg Walden said at a subcommittee hearing yesterday. And in an interview with Caitlin Owens this week, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady said only that "the bulk of the changes in law and the bulk of regulatory changes must occur this year."

But top execs at the big health insurance companies, including Anthem and Cigna, have been saying this week that they can't commit to staying in the marketplaces in 2018 until they get some better signals. Cigna CEO David Cordani told analysts and investors yesterday that the company will make its Obamacare decisions this spring, but that the markets remain "fragile at best." If the Trump administration and Congress don't get them some answers soon, that's a recipe for meltdown.

Don't forget: It's not as if there's a lot of agreement among Republicans about how to proceed, even if they wanted to move faster.

FWIW: House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters yesterday that "we want to be moving our Obamacare legislation by the end of the first quarter."

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.