Nov 4, 2018

Trump's pre-existing conditions promise clashes with ACA lawsuit

President Trump said in an exclusive interview with "Axios on HBO" that he'll reinstate protections for pre-existing conditions if a lawsuit — which his administration supports — guts the Affordable Care Act. But Republicans have never come up with a replacement plan that would offer the same level of protection as the ACA.

The intrigue: Trump also said Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn't give him a heads-up before urging a court to throw out the ACA's provisions on pre-existing conditions. But Sessions has said Trump signed off on the move.

The big picture: The Justice Department is arguing that the courts should strike down the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and toss out its protections for people with pre-existing conditions in the process.

  • If that position ultimately prevails, millions of people could lose their coverage or see their costs skyrocket.
  • Republican attorneys general want the court to strike down the entire law, which would have the same effect.

“It wouldn’t matter” if those ACA provisions are struck down, Trump said, “because pre-existing conditions, on anything we do, will be put into it.”

  • “I support terminating Obamacare, but if we terminate it, we will reinstitute pre-existing conditions in whatever we do,” he said.

Trump has said this throughout the midterm campaign season. But in the eight years since the ACA passed, Republicans have never proposed an alternative that would offer the same level of protection.

  • Their proposals have either been underfunded or have left gaps that would still expose some people to higher costs and denied coverage.

Where it stands: Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, is expected to rule any day now, and oral arguments seemed to go poorly for the ACA’s allies.

  • DOJ’s position in the case has already caused plenty of headaches for Republican candidates in the midterms.

Axios asked Trump whether Sessions had told him that this was coming.

  • “No, he didn’t, actually,” Trump said.
  • But Sessions has said he took this politically explosive position “with the approval of the President of the United States.”
  • The Justice Department referred questions about the discrepancy to the White House.
  • “Litigation decisions are typically handled through the White House Counsel’s office on behalf of the President,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said when asked about the conflicting answers. “The issue presented in this case is a technical constitutional issue and does not represent the Administration’s general position on pre-existing conditions.”

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Federal court temporarily halts "Remain in Mexico" program

Migrant wearing a cap with U.S. flagin front of the border between Guatemala and Mexico. Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/picture alliance via Getty Image

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's earlier injunction on Friday, temporarily stopping the Trump administration from enforcing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — known as the "Remain in Mexico" policy.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of migrants seeking asylum have been forced to wait out their U.S. immigration court cases across the border in Mexico under the policy. The Trump administration has long credited this program for the decline in border crossings following record highs last summer.

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Coronavirus updates: WHO raises global threat level to "very high"

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.

The World Health Organization raised its global risk assessment for the novel coronavirus to "very high" Friday, its highest risk level as countries struggle to contain it. Meanwhile, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow this morning tried to reassure the markets, which continued to correct amid growing fears of a U.S. recession.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,860 people and infected about 83,800 others in almost 60 countries and territories outside the epicenter in mainland China. The number of new cases reported outside China now exceed those inside the country.

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Bernie's plan to hike taxes on some startup employees

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced legislation that would tax nonqualified stock options at vesting, rather than at exercise, for employees making at least $130,000 per year.

The big picture: Select employees at private companies would be taxed on monies that they hadn't yet banked.