March 10, 2017

Top Stories

Bonus! GOP Obamacare Repeal Bill Depletes Medicare Trust Fund Faster

The Gist: The long-awaited GOP health care bill finally unveiled this week strikes an immediate blow to Medicare funding, accelerating a solvency crisis that health policy experts say could open the door to even more devastating cuts down the road.

GOP Chair Not Pleased Spicer Said All Members Could Try To Amend Health Bill

The Gist: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer appears to have irked the Republican chair of the House Rules Committee by telling reporters that all members would be able to offer amendments to the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Cummings Asks White House: Which Ethics Rules Don't Apply To You?

The Gist: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wrote to the White House’s top lawyer Thursday, demanding to know why, in the White House’s words, “many regulations promulgated by the Office of Government Ethics do not apply” to executive branch employees.

From The Reporter's Notebook

Fox News released a joint statement Wednesday announcing that 21st Century Fox had reached a $2.5 million settlement with former Fox News contributor Tamara Holder, who accused a then executive at the company of sexually assaulting her, The New York Times reported. Holder and Fox News released a rare joint public statement about the state of the settlement, reiterating the course of events, TPM's Kristin Salaky reported. "Immediately after Ms. Holder notified Fox News of the alleged incident, the Company promptly investigated the matter and took decisive action, for which Ms. Holder thanks the network," the statement reads in part. "Following the completion of her contract on January 1, 2017, Ms. Holder left the network. Fox News is grateful to Ms. Holder for her many contributions during her tenure at the network and wishes her continued success.”

Agree or Disagree?

Josh Marshall: "Going back seven years the Republican party has not only been committed to opposing and repealing Obamacare. It has grown to the level of almost being a core element of party ideology - not any policy on health care but opposing 'Obamacare'. It was the core of the 2014 election, the core of the 2012 election and a major point in the 2016 election. But while this was happening, there was a less visible but equally consequential development. The GOP largely accepted the premise of Obamacare. And by premise here I mean the premise that the people who received coverage under the Affordable Care Act should have gotten coverage and should be able to keep their coverage. This was the basis of the evolution from 'repeal' to 'repeal and replace' to 'repeal and replace ... it with something even better."

Say What?!

"As someone who consciously chose to be a citizen of this great nation I wholeheartedly reject your assertion that white supremacism is some foundational element of our society. Historically it existed but my issue is this: how are you helping bridge divisions by using phrases like white supremacism? Because white supremacism is a conscious decision. It’s the individual who is denying the other their civil rights. Today I do not see, as a nation, systemic persecution based on skin color."

- According to White House aide Sebastian Gorka, persistent racial disparities in the U.S. can be attributed to a 'dependency culture' created by the Democratic Party.

BUZZING: Today in the Hive

From a TPM Prime member: "The notion that I will be calling around -- doing comparison shopping -- in the middle of a medical emergency is pretty ridiculous. And it's the medical emergencies which are hideously expensive. I may pay my doctor $20 for a routine office visit, but a hospital will bill over $60,000 for my heart attack -- and that does not even include the $1000 for my ambulance ride. A few years ago, I had a broken ankle, which cost close to $100,000. Hospitals do have schedules of fees. These schedules are on an item by item basis. But these schedules are super secret, and the hospitals don't want to disclose them. They are shrouded by mysterious codes which takes an expert in hospital coding to decipher. Of course, if one does not know what a given procedure will cost at a given hospital, it becomes impossible to do comparison shopping. I am expected to follow the advice of my doctor, and really cannot refuse any tests or procedures he recommends. Once I am admitted to the hospital, they pretty much do whatever they want to do, anyway. When an orderly is wheeling me down to radiology, he really is not in a position to tell me why I need that CAT scan. Moreover, if the ambulance takes me to the nearest hospital, that hospital will assign me doctors and specialists from those who practice there. My primary care physician will not see me if he does not have hospital privileges at that hospital. While I am laying in the ER, writhing in pain from my heart attack, or I am just plain unconscious, all sorts of decisions will be made about my care by a doctor I have never met before. Where there is no real market, medical providers are able to play all sorts of games. They function as monopolies, charging whatever they think they can get away with. Therein lies the crux of the problem."

Related: Professor Paul Ryan Touts O'Care Repeal Via Powerpoint As Opposition Grows

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