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Happy actual Friday! We're getting a better picture of the Obamacare replacement plans the House committees will start working on after the recess. But they're still figuring out critical details, like any numbers at all, and they're nowhere close to getting all Republicans on board.

Surprise! It was "A Better Way" all along

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We've all been in suspense, chasing the details of what House Republicans will do to replace Obamacare — and now it's clear we could have been reading House Speaker Paul Ryan's "A Better Way" plan the whole time. The briefing document from yesterday's House Republican meeting sticks closely to the Ryan plan from last year, at least in the parts it includes.

The big things that are being picked up from "A Better Way":

  • Tax credits (fixed amounts, based on age, not income)
  • Health savings accounts
  • Medicaid reform (choice between per-capita caps and block grants)
  • "State Innovation Grants" (can be used for high-risk pools)

The big pieces that are left out:

  • Limiting the tax breaks for employer health coverage (Republicans are still talking about it)
  • Medicare "premium support" plan (President Trump's not interested)
The backstory: None of this should be a surprise. Ryan has been the driving force in the House on health care reform all along, and he noted yesterday that his former colleague, Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price, was "one of the primary architects" of the Better Way plan. The Senate still has to buy off on it, but the thinking among House GOP aides is that the House has more leverage because Ryan has been working on these ideas for years.

They haven't solved the Obamacare Lite problem

The big signal that House Republican leaders are sending with the Obamacare replacement plan: The Freedom Caucus doesn't get to run the show.

  • The conservatives have insisted that the law needs to be repealed before they worry about a replacement. And earlier this week, Rep. Raul Labrador said they don't want to pass anything that looks like "Obamacare Lite" — another huge overhaul of the health care system that just happens to be more conservative.
  • But House Republicans are clearly headed for an ambitious overhaul, and they even brought in Price to tell the rank and file that President Trump wants the repeal and replacement to happen at the same time.
  • Labrador made it clear the new plan didn't avoid the "Obamacare Lite" trap. "No," he said when I asked him. "So far it just sounds like Obamacare Lite."
  • He said he wanted to find out more about it, but "there were only two minutes of time for members to ask questions." Rep. Jim Jordan had the same complaint.

Why it matters: The House leadership is calling the bluff of the Freedom Caucus — but they do need their votes to pass the plan. And then they'll have to keep the conservatives on board if the Senate tries to moderate the plan.

FWIW: Caitlin Owens reports that none of the Senate Republicans she asked had read the House plan. They didn't know it was out.

Ryan on the big problem: Medicaid

Here's what Ryan said at his weekly press conference yesterday: "I think it's 32 states, if I am not mistaken, have Medicaid expansion. Mine did not. We're going to have to find a solution that accommodates each of these two concerns."

What's in the plan: States that expanded Medicaid could keep getting their extra federal funds "for a limited period of time," but they'd go back to the regular federal matching rate "at a date certain." Republicans are still figuring out what those dates will be, but the goal is to stop the states that expanded Medicaid from enrolling new people.

What's missing is what matters the most

The briefing document lays out all of the ideas but includes almost none of the specifics that really matter, like the size of the tax credit, the amount of the "state innovation grants," or the ways to pay for all of it. That's partly because Republicans are still getting official cost estimates, but those are the details that will really make a difference, according to outside analysts:

  • Harvard's John McDonough, former Senate Democratic aide and member of the Axios board of experts: "What is the size of the credit? Why so shy about this? Why the veil over the most important single item in a plan? Maybe because revealing the number will allow experts to figure out quickly how many will lose coverage."
  • Chris Condeluci, former Senate Republican aide and member of the Axios board of experts: Key questions are whether it really repeals all Obamacare taxes right away or phases some out gradually, and how to be fair to states that expanded Medicaid and the ones that didn't.
  • Zeke Emanuel of the Center for American Progress: "How much is the subsidy? We don't know their value so we cannot say what it will cover ... There is not enough information but what appears is that people will pay more and many people will find insurance impossible to buy."

How the FTC’s new competition chief could affect health care

President Trump's acting Federal Trade Commission chairwoman, Maureen Ohlhausen, is wasting no time shaking up the agency. Bob Herman reports that she named Tad Lipsky the new acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition yesterday — the office charged with policing mergers and acquisitions for most of the health care industry.

What this means: Potentially less oversight, but not for all health care players. Lipsky replaces Deborah Feinstein, who went after some large hospital and health system mergers. However, her group has been lax on many transactions involving drug companies, pharmacy benefit managers and retail pharmacies.

  • Former FTC staffers say Lipsky is a pro-business conservative who is less aggressive in challenging M&A, but he also is knowledgable about health care and likely won't slow down reviews on hospital mergers.
  • Former FTC antitrust attorney John Kirkwood: "This is not choosing a Steve Bannon ... This is like choosing another establishment figure to the right of Debbie Feinstein."

Key quote: Here's what Lipsky said to U.S. News & World Report in December after Trump won: "The purpose of antitrust is not necessarily to prevent firms from succeeding, even when they become very dominant in their industry."

A few big moments at the Seema Verma hearing

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services nominee didn't answer all of the questions at the Senate Finance Committee hearing yesterday — especially on the new Obamacare rule, which came from the agency she'll be running. But there were a few standout moments:

  • She defended the Indiana approach to Medicaid, which requires low-income people to contribute to their health care: "It gives dignity to individuals ... We don't assume that just because someone is poor, they don't want choices about their health care."
  • She said she doesn't support what Sen. Bill Nelson called a "voucher" system for Medicare, meaning the premium support model that Ryan wants — a sign that the Trump team has given her full permission to brush it away.
  • She might actually be a fan of pharmaceutical benefit managers, which are taking a lot of grief lately for their possible role in contributing to rising drug prices.
  • She said the MACRA bill, which reformed how Medicare pays doctors, was an "important step forward" for outcomes and providers.
For more highlights, read Caitlin Owens' roundup here.

For more Obamacare replacement light reading ...

Republicans went on a tear yesterday with the bill introductions, as they unloaded more details of other pieces of Obamacare replacements. Bookmark these and make someone read them for you:

Between the lines: The pre-existing conditions bill reads a lot like Obamacare — it looks like Republicans suddenly decided to just cover all sick people. But it's supposed to be paired with a "continuous coverage" bill, which would allow people to be charged more if they didn't keep themselves insured. It's also possible that the Trump administration will take some of their own steps to promote continuous coverage, as we noted yesterday.

What we're watching next week: National Governors Association winter meeting, Washington, Feb. 24-27. Also: what's the reaction to the House GOP plan? And what will be the next Obamacare town hall video to go viral?

Have a great weekend, and tell us what you're hearing and what else we need to know: david@axios.com.

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Uber gets competitive in the food-delivery service

McDonald's ordered through the Postmates service. Photo: Chandice Choi/AP

Along with the development of ride-sharing services came food-delivery services: ordering food through an app and having it delivered to your door. The New York Times cited a study by McKinsey that found food delivery "is a $100 billion-plus market, or about 1 percent of the total food market." And Uber wants a piece of that market.

Key numbers: UberEats is available in more than 120 markets around the world. The number of trips for UberEats drivers grew more than 24 times in one year, and by last July it was "profitable in 27 of the 108 cities where it operated," per NYT.

UberEats "sometimes eclipses Uber's main ride-hailing business in markets like Tokyo; Taipei, Taiwan; and Seoul, South Korea," the company told NYT.

But as UberEats continues to thrive, competition looms large:

  • Postmates has raised over $250 million since it started and the company makes 2.5 million deliveries each month. Like UberEats, Postmates is a full delivery service system.
  • Grubhub has "an active base of 8.17 million customers," and Matt Maloney, the company's founder, told the Times their sole focus on take-out ordering sets them apart.
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Price will stop using taxpayer-funded private jets

Trump and HHS Secretary Tom Price arrive on Capitol Hill to rally support on health-care reform. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has racked up more than $400,000 after using a private jet to embark on his taxpayer-funded travels, Politico found. Now, Politico reports that Price will stop using a private jet for these travels because "We've heard the concerns. We take that very seriously and have taken it to heart," Price told Fox & Friends earlier today.

What's next: His department's inspector general will review his travel and the associated costs, and a decision will be made after that review is complete. A federal contract noted that Price cost taxpayers at least $65,000 in the last week alone, Politico notes.

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Golden State Warriors will not visit the White House

A rally to celebrate the Golden State Warriors' NBA basketball championship. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

After Trump called out Stephen Curry in a tweet this morning (rescinding his invitation to the White House), his team stood with him and announced they will not be attending the White House visit at all.

"While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House," the statement read, "we accept President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited."

"We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them," the statement continued. "We're disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have an open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise.

Big picture, from Axios' Mike Allen: Trump is wading into culturally sensitive territory that could freshen opposition elsewhere, and ignite a debate wholly unrelated to anything he's trying to accomplish.

Go deeper: Trump vs. Curry, LeBron and pro athletes.

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N. Korea: strike on U.S. is "inevitable"

In this unverified image from the North Korean government, Kim Jong-un is said to inspect loading of a hydrogen bomb into an ICBM, at unknown location (Korean Central News Agency / Korea News Service, via AP)

North Korea's foreign minister said today a strike on the U.S. is "inevitable," just after it was revealed that there were American fighter jets flying over the seas of North Korea.

"None other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission" and said that Trump's insults against North Korea and its leader make "our rocket's visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more."

Context: Trump called Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man" in a recent tweet, which he restated during his UN speech, saying "Rocket Man" is "on a suicide mission."

North Korea's foreign minister shot back at Trump, saying POTUS has "turned the White House into a noisy marketing place full of crackling sounds of abacus beads and now he has tried to turn the U.N. arena into a gangsters' nest where money is respected and bloodshed is the order of the day."

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Mexico hit with massive aftershock from earthquake

A woman attends an outdoor Catholic Mass near the school that collapsed during the earthquake in Mexico City. Photo: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

An aftershock of the 8.1-magnitude earthquake earlier this month went through the southern state Oaxaca this morning, measured at a magnitude of 6.1, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: Mexico is still recovering from the 7.1 quake on Tuesday that killed over 300 people. This is the third one this month. A resident of one of the cities hit by the earthquake on Sept. 7, Nataniel Hernandez, told the AP that Saturday's tremor is "one of the strongest movements he has felt" since then, but that "it has not stopped shaking."


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American fighter jet flies over North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, and Choe Ryong Hae, vice-chairman of the central committee of the Workers' Party, Photo: Wong Maye-E/AP

The Pentagon reported B-1B bombers from Guam and F-15 fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan, have flown over the waters of east North Korea, the "farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone...any American fighter or bomber has flown this century," the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Dana White, Defense Department spokeswoman, said it was a "demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message" that Trump "has many military options to defeat any threat."

Go deeper: The psychological profile of Kim Jong-un, and how he and his "massive ego...reacts harshly and sometimes lethally to insults and perceived slights."

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Trump: NFL players shouldn't "disrespect" our flag

Photo: AP

After numerous professional athletes tweeted about Trump (who made offensive remarks about the NFL and its players who kneel during the national anthem), he kept the conversation going:

Featured

Iran tested a ballistic missile

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sits before addressing the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: Jason DeCrow / AP

Iran unveiled its latest ballistic missile Friday and said it tested it today, Reuters reports. State television carried footage of the test. Iran said it is capable of carrying multiple warheads, of flying 2,000 km is capable of hitting parts of the Middle East, including Israel, a key American ally, per the AP.

The Trump effect: This is a challenge to Trump, since Trump signed a bill imposing penalties on those involved in Tehran's ballistic missile program last month. (The U.S. has said Tehran's tests violate a UN resolution endorsing the Iran nuclear deal.)

Iran's defense minister said "we will certainly not be the least affected by any threats and we won't ask anyone's permission" about its missile program.

Context:

  • Trump said this week he has "decided" whether to exit the Iran nuclear deal, but wouldn't reveal the decision.
  • Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said earlier this week if Trump follows through on his threats to nix the nuclear deal, America would pay "such a high cost."

The Trump administration re-approved sanctions waivers for Iran as part of the nuclear deal last week. The deadline to re-certify the deal as a whole is coming mid-October.

Go deeper: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran may be honoring technical aspects of the deal

Featured

Scott Pruitt met regularly with industry lobbyists

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks to the media during the daily briefing. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has made decisions that benefit certain lobbying groups — soon after meeting with the corporate executives that represent them, according to his schedule obtained by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: While WaPo reports that Pruitt met with three public-health and environmental advocates, the meetings with industry advocates far outweighed them.

Mining, automobile, and fossil fuel executives are some of the big groups Pruitt has met with. Before relaxing Obama-era automobile fuel-efficiency standards, he met with General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and the "industry's lobbying arm" Auto Alliance. He met with the biggest commercial truck "glider" manufacturer in the U.S. before announcing he would "revisit an October 2016 decision to apply greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks to gliders."


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Steve Bannon to headline Roy Moore rally in Alabama

Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

Steve Bannon is heading to Alabama Sunday night to rally for Judge Roy Moore on Monday night with Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty.

Why it matters: This rally is three days after President Trump, Bannon's former boss, was in Alabama rallying for Moore's opponent — Mitch McConnell's favored candidate Luther Strange. For Bannon to make a rare public appearance in such close proximity to Trump shows how invested he is in this race specifically, and attacking McConnell more generally. Another former White House adviser, Sebastian Gorka, rallied with Sarah Palin for Moore on Thursday.

From a source close to Bannon: "Steve is coming to Alabama to support President Trump against the Washington establishment and Mitch McConnell. Steve views Judge Moore as a fierce advocate of Trump and the values he campaigned on."
Allies of Strange and Republicans close to the White House dispute that premise, and Trump points out Strange offered his support for Obamacare repeal with no strings attached, whereas Roy Moore has said he won't support anything less than full repeal.
Trump last night seemed conflicted about his Strange endorsement, suggesting he'd made a mistake and would support Moore if he wins. Moore leads Strange by 9 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
"I'll be honest, I might have made a mistake... If his opponent wins, I'm going to be here campaigning like hell for him." — President Trump on Friday night
Breitbart has gone all in for Moore and is doing its national radio show on Sirius XM from Alabama today through Wednesday.

Multiple senior Breitbart editors are in Alabama, including Washington editor Matthew Boyle, London editor Raheem Kassam, the editor-in-chief of Breitbart London, and Jeff Poor, an Alabama native and the head of Breitbart TV.

"As of now, everyone is working on the Alabama race," Boyle wrote in a Breitbart Slack channel, per CNN's Oliver Darcy. "If anyone has any questions please let me know."