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Giphy

The next few days will tell us whether Republican leaders prepared adequately for the disastrous Congressional Budget Office estimates of the House Obamacare replacement bill. It's one thing to say, "we're not going to compete with a law that forces everyone to buy coverage." It's another thing to fight headlines about 24 million Americans losing coverage.

Quick recap:

  • Coverage losses: 14 million people in 2018, 24 million over 10 years
  • Savings: $337 billion over 10 years
  • Medicaid cuts: $880 billion over 10 years
  • Premiums: 15 to 20 percent higher in 2018-19, 10 percent lower in 10 years

Top Republican responses:

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters he was "encouraged" by the report — because of the savings and long-term lower premiums — and it "exceeded my expectations."
  • Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price said CBO didn't look at everything Republicans are planning: "It didn't look at the regulatory reforms that we're going to put into place. It didn't look at the state innovation grants. It didn't look at the flexibility that we're going to allow the states."
  • Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, on Medicaid coverage losses: "The CBO is saying it happens on day one, which is just absurd."

But here are the Republicans to watch:

  • Top conservative critics of the bill — including House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows, Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan, and Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — were laying low.
  • But Caitlin Owens reports that Sen. Mike Lee — another conservative critic — said his concerns about the bill "have not been eliminated by the CBO report."
  • Sen. Susan Collins, one of the GOP moderates who's skeptical about the bill: "The topline numbers are alarming on the loss of coverage."
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham: "Let's say the CBO is half right—that should be cause for concern," per the Wall Street Journal.
  • (As one Senate Democratic aide noted: "We heard three different messages from the House, Senate, and White House. Clearly zero attempt at message coordination.")

The bottom line: It's summed up in this tweet from former Senate Republican aide Rodney Whitlock: "Critical, soul searching moment for GOP. Ignore #CBOscore and plow ahead or admit that some ideas might just be problematic.

FWIW: Politico reports that the White House's internal projections were even worse: 26 million would lose coverage over the next 10 years.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

500 Hong Kong police officers raid pro-democracy newspaper

Chief Operations Officer Chow Tat Kuen (front 2nd R) is escorted by police from the Apple Daily newspaper offices before being put into a waiting vehicle in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong's Apple Daily said 500 police officers searched the pro-democracy newspaper's offices and arrested five senior executives on Thursday.

Why it matters: The arrests of the paper's chief editor, Ryan Law, along with its chief operating officer, two other editors and the CEO of Next Digital, which operates Apple Daily, were made under China's national security law — which gives the government broad power to limit people's political freedom.

World Bank rejects El Salvador's request to help implement bitcoin

President Nayib Bukele, giving a speech in El Salvador's legislative assembly in San Salvado earlier this month, pushed for bitcoin to become legal tender. Photo: Emerson Flores/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images

The World Bank has rejected the government of El Salvador's request to help the country implement Bitcoin as legal tender, Reuters first reported late Wednesday.

Why it matters: The international lender's rejection could hamper the government's goal of making the digital currency accepted across the country within three months.

Updated 5 hours ago - Science

China launches first astronauts to new space station

The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Shenzhou 12 mission carrying three astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning Beijing time.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy China's new space station. This will be the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.