Feb 13, 2017

What we're learning from the Obamacare town halls

Rick Bowmer/AP

You've probably seen the viral video of a Florida GOP official getting shouted down this weekend at a town hall meeting after trying to revive the old, false rumor about Obamacare "death panels." (Here's what I wrote about it on Saturday.) There's been a lot of pro-Obamacare eruptions at Republican town halls lately, so here's what we're learning from them:

  • Republicans don't have a lot of ready answers when they're asked how sick people will get health coverage if Obamacare is repealed. "That issue will have to be addressed in some form or manner, but it hasn't been addressed yet," Rep. James Sensenbrenner said at a town hall meeting in Wisconsin on Saturday.
  • The Florida Republican official who made the false "death panels" claim has a history of spreading conspiracy theories and racist jokes, per the Washington Post's David Weigel, so don't take him as evidence that mainstream Republicans are reviving the claim.
  • But Rep. Gus Bilirakis did try to support him by saying he meant the Independent Payment Advisory Board, CNN's Eric Bradner reports.
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan has called it a "rationing board," and that line of attack is still in mainstream use, even though law specifically says the board can't ration health care. Bilirakis has written that the board's payment cuts could cause "de facto rationing."
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz didn't do himself any favors by suggesting the protesters at his town hall last week were paid, without presenting any evidence.
  • That said, it's not as if there's no organizing to generate a big turnout. Liberal volunteers are spreading the dates and locations of future town halls through activities like the Town Hall Project.
  • Republicans will have to get ready for many more of these eruptions — because the House and Senate will be on recess next week, and there will be more town halls and "office hours" throughout that week.

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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

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 number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S.

The big picture: About half the planet's population is now on lockdown and the global death toll was nearing 64,800, by Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,500

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

Recorded deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 8,500 in the U.S. early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 a.m. ET: 1,203,485 — Total deaths: 64,784 — Total recoveries: 247,001Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 a.m. ET: 312,237 — Total deaths: 8,501 — Total recoveries: 14,997Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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