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President Trump wades into healthcare fight: But it hasn’t come without its disruptions. Trump rankled GOP leadership Friday when he tweeted support for a healthcare strategy that would involve repealing Obamacare immediately and replacing it later with a new system — an approach he had criticized in the past and one that is favored only by the most conservative members of Congress. "Senate Republicans recognize that this a put-up or shut-up moment, and yet they are still gripped by inaction and are unable to do their job," said Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist. "So, frankly, President Trump attempting to provide them cover to pass anything possible is certainly a welcome development."
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to stick to ‘repeal and replace,’ rather than take a "repeal and delay" proposal suggested by Trump. The Kentucky Republican told a gathering of Republicans in Elizabethtown, Ky., that "failure has to be possible or you can't have success." He added: "It's not easy making America great again, is it?" He compared the Senate's negotiations to a Rubik's Cube, saying he is "trying to figure out how to twist the dials to get to 50 [votes] to replace this with something better."
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Trump offers help to British baby: On Monday morning, Trump weighed in on the controversial decision of British courts to prevent the parents of Charlie Gard, a baby with a rare disease, from continuing his treatment. Barring that, the hospital won’t even allow the parents to take him home to die. The news has become an international story and has particularly outraged pro-life conservatives in the United States. “If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the pope, we would be delighted to do so,” Trump said.
Sen. Mike Lee pushes full repeal of Obamacare if Senate GOP can't find a deal. Utah Sen. Mike Lee said Senate Republicans should jump back on board a plan they all backed 18 months ago and vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act in full if they cannot reach a deal on the Senate GOP healthcare bill. Lee said on CBS Sunday that Republicans were fine with repealing the law in full in December 2015 and should do the same if they find that an agreement on the Better Care Reconciliation Act is out of reach. "What we ought to do is get back to what I've been suggesting for the last six months, and that is to push full repeal and then go through a step-by-step process to determine what comes next," he said.
Rep. Kevin Brady said a delay ‘doesn’t achieve what President Trump set out to do.’ Speaking on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” the House Ways and Means chairman, said the president’s goals were to “not only repeal the damaging effects of that law, help people who are trapped in it right now – we are seeing it collapsing in front of our eyes – but to put in place that transition to a free market where there are a lot more choices than there are today, and getting control out of Washington and back to the states and the local communities, so they can design health care that’s right for their region or their state. I really think the Senate’s approach — certainly in the House — of not simply repealing but starting to put into place the elements that can make healthcare affordable … that should continue to be our goal.”
Sen. Ted Cruz's Obamacare amendment gains momentum after Trump tweet. The amendment would let insurers sell plans that don't comply with Obamacare's insurance mandates, such as covering essential health benefits and community rating, which prevents insurers from charging sick people more money. But insurers have to offer some plans that do comply with the requirements. The Texas Republican had been meeting with GOP leadership on the amendment and said last week he thinks the idea is gaining momentum. But Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said there are concerns about sharing the risk between the plans that don't have to meet Obamacare, which likely would be cheaper, with the plans that do. The amendment was sent to the Congressional Budget Office as part of the full Senate bill to determine the impact on premiums, the deficit and insurance coverage, according to sources familiar with the matter.
President’s tweeting habits dominate much of the healthcare conversation on Sunday shows:
*Sen. Bill Cassidy: Washington's 'focus cannot be on the tweet.’ "Our focus cannot be on the tweet," Cassidy, R-La., said on “Meet the Press.” "Our focus has to be on that kitchen table family paying $20, $30 and $40,000 for their premiums, wondering how they're going to make ends meet. Their child might be addicted to opioids. We in Washington, we in the country cannot be focused on tweets, we have to be focused on answering that family's problems."
*The tweet was also the focus of an interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who responded strongly when questioned about the tweets by NBC host Chuck Todd. "We have incredible challenges across this nation, incredible challenges around the world," Price said. "The challenge I've been given is to address the healthcare issues, and your program, a program with the incredible history of 'Meet the Press,' and that's what you want to talk about?" Earlier Sunday, Price appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and challenged the Congressional Budget Office's estimate that 22 million Americans would become uninsured in the coming decade if the current Senate bill under consideration were passed. "The budget office does a pretty good job usually of saying what something is going to cost," Price said. "They've been woefully inadequate in being able to predict what kind of coverage.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich believes Trump's 'coarseness' is ruining Congress' ability to work. Kasich told ABC in an interview aired Sunday that Trump's controversial tweets and public statements slamming Democrats are not going to convince them to work with Republicans on any policies in Congress, let alone the healthcare legislation Trump is prioritizing. "The coarseness doesn't help anybody, but I don't think it does anything to Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill," he said. Kasich said Trump is essentially backing Democrats — and Republicans who aren't toeing the party line — into a corner with his threats to let the Affordable Care Act collapse or letting third-party political groups air attack ads against them for not supporting his agenda. "You don't put an animal in a corner without the animal striking back, and you don't put a politician in the corner without expecting ‘em to strike back," Kasich said. Instead, Trump's tactics further entrench the bitter partisan divide in Washington by forcing Republicans and Democrats to square off in pitched battle over various policies. Speaking specifically about healthcare, Kasich said Trump's inability to unify lawmakers around doing what's best for the country is allowing each party to hunker down and pull further apart because defeat is unacceptable for both sides. "They don't want to concede anything. One party doesn't want to concede anything to the other because maybe it'll make it less conservative," Kasich said. "The other party doesn't want to concede anything because maybe that will mean they put their face down in the dirt and say we failed."
Kasich said the healthcare bill was 'anemic' and would 'starve' Medicaid. Kasich said the bill would force governors "to choose” which groups get funding because there's not enough money in the bill. "If you cut $750 billion out of Medicaid, and in the out years you basically starve the program, we have to choose between children, seniors, the disabled, the addicted, the mentally ill," Kasich said in an interview with ABC that aired Sunday. On the money to fight opioid addiction that has been added to the bill, Kasich said, "If they're going to give $45 billion over 10 years, I'm getting almost $300 million, $600 million a year. That would give me a billion over 10 years? Not even quite that. It's anemic. It's like spitting in the ocean. It's not enough.”
Sen. Dick Durbin: No Democratic help until Obamacare repeal off the table. Durbin, D-Ill., said two factors would have to be met before any Democrats will work with Republicans on a healthcare bill: take Obamacare repeal off the table, and do the same for the proposed tax cut in the current bill. "What's driving this is not healthcare reform, what's driving this is a tax cut — a tax cut the Republicans insist on of about $700 billion for the wealthiest people in America and pharmaceutical companies," the Senate minority whip told Brit Hume on "Fox News Sunday."
Sen. John Barrasso said Durbin's assertions about the tax cut were ‘absolutely wrong.’ "We are down to one company providing insurance in Wyoming, the prices have skyrocketed," the Wyoming Republican said. "That's why we have to do something. We need to do what the people are asking for, which is stabilize the insurance markets." When pressed on the tax issues of the current bill, Barrasso compared the proposed tax structure to Obamacare. "Obamacare raise[s] taxes on every American who uses healthcare in America," Barrasso said. "They put it on over-the-counter medicines, prescription medicines, medical devices, which are so often used for the disabled population the most. It has been very cruel taxing on Obamacare," Barrasso said.
Nevada asks for premiums of 38 percent more for Obamacare’s exchange. Four insurance companies plan to offer coverage on the exchange in the state. “The proposed rate increases on the rate submissions filed with the division reflect the uncertainty of the healthcare market,” said state insurance commissioner Barbara Richardson. “The division will diligently review the proposed rates before they are approved.”
Lawmakers team up on bipartisan resolution to fight eating disorders. Reps. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., sent a letter to Congress about the importance of medical and mental health treatment for people with eating disorders, a disease affecting 30 million Americans, and which has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. They noted the legislation passed last year to expand access to mental healthcare was an important first step, but added that, "more research is needed to train healthcare professionals, facilitate early intervention treatment, and raise awareness for prevention efforts for those struggling with an eating disorder.”
Wall Street Journal Republican senators face pushback from governors on the health bill
Politico How healthcare bill could hurt a program beloved in Trump country
The Hill Senate GOP pressures budget refs for better score on Obamacare replacement
The New York Times $45 billion to fight opioid abuse? That’s much too little, experts say
Washington Post Children at risk as Vatican hospital chased profits
Stat Their children are dying. So these families are racing to raise money for research no one else will fund
U.S. News & World Report The House power players
MONDAY | JULY 3
Congress on Fourth of July Recess.
June 30-July 3. Marriott Marquis San Diego Arena. San Diego. Annual conference for the National Association of School Nurses. Details.
TUESDAY | JULY 4
Fourth of July holiday.
WEDNESDAY | JULY 5
6 p.m. 1900 Gateway Blvd, McKinney, Texas. Sen. Ted Cruz holds town hall with Concerned Veterans of America. Details.
THURSDAY | JULY 6
11:30 a.m. CST/12:30 a.m. EST. McKenna Youth and Activity Center. 311 Main St, Palco, Kan. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, to hold a town hall. Details.
1 p.m. 2101 Constitution Ave. NW. National Academy of Medicine event on “Effective Care for High-Need Patients: Opportunities for Improving Outcomes, Value and Health.” Details.
2 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Ave. NW. American Enterprise Institute event on “Unbundling the Benefit for Better Health: A Broader Role for Health Savings Accounts.” Details.
6 p.m. 9721 Arboretum Blvd, Austin, Texas. Sen. Ted Cruz holds town hall with Concerned Veterans of America. Details.
FRIDAY | JULY 7
Noon. G50 Dirksen. Alliance for Health Policy and the Commonwealth Fund event on “Understanding What’s Next for Medicaid.” Details.
SATURDAY | JULY 8
Noon. 300 North Loop West Freeway, Houston. Sen. Ted Cruz holds town hall with Concerned Veterans of America. Details.