Mar 22, 2017

Trump administration weighs last-minute Obamacare replacement changes

Alex Brandon / AP

Trump administration officials are seriously considering whether to make substantive last minute changes to the House Obamacare replacement bill to convince Freedom Caucus members to vote for it.

Two sources with direct knowledge — working on the side pushing the bill — tell me that the White House is debating making some changes to how the House bill trims Obamacare's insurance regulations and its "essential benefit" requirements before putting the bill on the floor. One source said failure was not an option. In one source's view it's not realistic to think that the bill can be kicked into next week and that something might miraculously change.

Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows has made it clear he can't vote for the current bill and won't unless more is done to lower premiums. He's demanded the House bill repeals more Obamacare insurance rules.

Why it matters: Republicans are still looking for votes. In the White House meeting today the team pushing the bill suggested to the Freedom Caucus that they could get changes made in the Senate version. But the Freedom Caucus folks made it clear they don't trust the Senate. Leadership's view is that the changes aren't possible under the rules for the budget "reconciliation" bill that's being used for repeal, since everything in it has to affect spending or revenues. But there appears to be growing openness within the White House to testing that proposition.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 4,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 4,000 people in the U.S. — with over 1,000 deaths reported in New York City, per Johns Hopkins.

The state of play: President Trump said Tuesday it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 860,181 — Total deaths: 42,354 — Total recoveries: 178,359.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 189,633 — Total deaths: 4,081 — Total recoveries: 7,136.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk from COVID-19.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  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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World coronavirus updates: UN warns of recession with "no parallel" to recent past

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 pandemic is the "greatest test" the world has faced together since the formation of the United Nations just after the Second World War ended in 1945, UN chief António Guterres said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 859,000 and the death toll exceeded 42,000 early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 12,000 deaths.

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