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The White House and Republicans are talking seriously about reviving Trumpcare, and they think they've found the ticket: fewer Obamacare insurance regulations and more high-risk pool plans, which offer coverage that's subsidized by a state government. Will it be enough to win over the Freedom Caucus? Chairman Mark Meadows said last night that the group wants to see the legislative text. Will it actually gain votes that Republicans didn't already have? Not clear yet.

Here's the latest, and a reality check on what it all means:

  • Vice President Mike Pence met with two groups of Republicans yesterday: a group of moderates in the afternoon, and the Freedom Caucus at night.
  • The emerging plan would let states opt out of some, though not all, of Obamacare's insurance regulations.
  • It would technically protect pre-existing condition coverage, but it would allow states to get rid of the "community rating" provision that prevents insurers from charging higher rates to sick people.
  • It would also go after the "essential health benefits" provision — things like prescription drug coverage, mental health services, and pregnancy and childbirth, among others — which was already on the table. Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price would be given the authority to grant waivers to the states.
  • The bill's Patient and State Stability Fund, which would give the states more than $100 billion over 10 years, would be targeted more narrowly to be spent on high-risk pools, as Jonathan Swan and I reported last night.
  • Pence left the Freedom Caucus meeting last night without a deal, but Meadows said the group was "encouraged."
  • Less clear is what Pence accomplished with his meeting with the moderates, who were mostly Republicans likely to vote for the bill anyway.
  • The most high-profile moderate who's a "no" vote — Rep. Charlie Dent — wasn't invited to the meeting to get to "yes." Instead, he talked with Sen. Rand Paul, who's circulating his own idea for jump-starting the talks: Keep Obamacare's structure for subsidies, but reduce the funding.

Reality check: All of the movement so far is pushing the bill to the right, so the Trump administration appears to be placing its bets with the conservatives, not the moderates. Even if the new proposal gains Freedom Caucus votes, the risk is that it could lose votes from other members — especially those who don't want to be accused of abandoning sick people.

Go deeper

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28 mins ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.