Health Care

Trump Slams McCain Again

President Trump mocked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — without using his name — for his no vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act, Axios reports.

Said Trump: “Remember, one person walked into a room when he was supposed to go this way (Trump enthusiastically gives a thumbs up) and he said he was going this way, and he walked in and he went this way (Trump throws his thumb down) and everyone said what happened? What was that all about? … I don’t want to be controversial so I won’t use his name. What a mess!”

Just two weeks ago, Meghan McCain told Politico that Trump had called her to say he would “back off” her cancer-stricken father.

Trump Adviser Says You Don’t Need a Flu Shot

Gloria Copeland, a controversial minister on President Trump’s evangelical advisory board, said flu shots aren’t necessary when you have Jesus, the HuffPost reports.

Said Copeland: “Inoculate yourself with the word of God.”

She said the faithful who don’t have the flu can ward off the infection by repeatedly saying, “I’ll never have the flu. I’ll never have the flu.”

White House Opioids Effort Sidelines Drug Experts

Politico: “White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has taken control of the opioids agenda, quietly freezing out drug policy professionals and relying instead on political staff to address a lethal crisis claiming about 175 lives a day. The main response so far has been to call for a border wall and to promise a ‘just say no’ campaign.”

“Trump is expected to propose massive cuts this month to the ‘drug czar’ office, just as he attempted in last year’s budget before backing off. He hasn’t named a permanent director for the office, and the chief of staff was sacked in December. For months, the office’s top political appointee was a 24-year-old Trump campaign staffer with no relevant qualifications. Its senior leadership consists of a skeleton crew of three political appointees, down from nine a year ago.”

Republicans Finally Give Up on Obamacare Repeal

Politico: “Though the GOP still controls both chambers of Congress and maintains the ability to jam through a repeal-and-replace bill via a simple majority, there are no discussions of doing so here at House and Senate Republicans’ joint retreat at The Greenbrier resort. Republicans doubt they can even pass a budget providing for the powerful party-line ‘reconciliation’ procedure used to pass tax reform last year, much less take on the politically perilous task of rewriting health care laws in an election year.”

“Republicans’ decision to abstain from another attempt at gutting Barack Obama’s health law — at least this year — goes back on a pledge the party has made to voters since 2010. And it underscores how Republicans overpromised in their ability to reform the nation’s health care and never fully recognized how divided the party is over key Obamacare planks like protecting pre-existing conditions and preserving the law’s Medicaid expansion.”

CDC Director Resigns Over Conflicts

Brenda Fitzgerald, the embattled director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has resigned after facing questions about including her purchase of tobacco stocks while leading the nation’s anti-smoking efforts.

Politico: “Fitzgerald had also come under congressional scrutiny because of financial conflicts that led her to recuse herself from speaking to Congress about issues including cancer detection and aspects of the opioid crisis.”

Official Leading Anti-Smoking Effort Traded Tobacco Stock

“The Trump administration’s top public health official bought shares in a tobacco company one month into her leadership of the agency charged with reducing tobacco use — the leading cause of preventable disease and death and an issue she had long championed,” Politico reports.

“The stock was one of about a dozen new investments that Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the CDC, made after she took over the agency’s top job.”

“Buying shares of tobacco companies raises even more flags than Fitzgerald’s trading in drug and food companies because it stands in such stark contrast to CDC’s mission to persuade smokers to quit and keep children from becoming addicted.”

Trump Will Allow Work Requirements for Medicaid

“The Trump administration issued guidance to states early Thursday that will allow them to compel people to work or prepare for jobs in order to receive Medicaid for the first time in the half-century history of this pillar of the nation’s social safety net,” the Washington Post reports.

“The new rules come as 10 states are already lined up, waiting for federal permission to impose work requirements on able-bodied adults in the program. Three other states are contemplating them. Health officials could approve the first waiver — probably for Kentucky — as soon as Friday, according to two people with knowledge of the process.”

Trump Secret Plan to Scrap Obamacare

Politico: “Early last year as an Obamacare repeal bill was flailing in the House, top Trump administration officials showed select House conservatives a secret road map of how they planned to gut the health law using executive authority. The March 23 document, which had not been public until now, reveals that while the effort to scrap Obamacare often looked chaotic, top officials had actually developed an elaborate plan to undermine the law — regardless of whether Congress repealed it.”

““The blueprint, built off the executive order to minimize Obamacare’s ‘economic burden,’ that Trump signed just hours after taking the oath of office, shows just how advanced the administration’s plans were to unwind the law — plans that would become far more important after the legislative efforts to repeal Obamacare failed.”

Pro-Life Groups Scuttled Obamacare Fix

“A bipartisan effort to stabilize the U.S. health-insurance markets collapsed last month after anti-abortion groups appealed directly to Vice President Mike Pence at the 11th hour,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Amid opposition from conservatives in the House of Representatives, a group of pro-life activists met with Pence to lobby the Trump administration against supporting a health-insurance market-stabilization bill on the grounds that it does not contain sufficient language on abortion restrictions.”

Republicans Have No Path Forward on Health Care

Politico: “Republicans start the year divided over whether to tear down or prop up Obamacare, a split that could derail their legislative agenda leading up to the 2018 midterm elections. GOP leaders on Capitol Hill don’t want a repeat of last year’s Obamacare fumble: They spent precious time on a failed attempt to repeal the health care law every member of the GOP was presumed to hate. But they also don’t want to take repeal off the table, which would provoke conservatives who are still determined to undo Obamacare.”

“The reality is the GOP is so divided on Obamacare, they don’t have the votes to achieve either objective — repeal or stabilization. That means former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment could keep limping along, crippled by the repeal of the individual mandate in the tax law but lifted by the surprisingly strong enrollment for the coming year.”

Trump Fires Entire AIDS/HIV Council

Washington Blade: “With no explanation, the White House has terminated members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS amid widespread discontent with President Trump’s approach to the epidemic.”

“After six members of PACHA resigned in June, the White House on Wednesday terminated the remaining 16 members without explanation via a letter from FedEx.”

Obamacare Morphs Into Government-Run Health Care

New York Times: “In short, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement is becoming more like what conservatives despise — government-run health care — thanks in part to Republican efforts that are raising premiums for people without government assistance and allowing them to skirt coverage.”

“By ending the tax penalty for people who do not have coverage, beginning in 2019, Republicans may hasten the flight of customers who now pay the full cost of their insurance. Among those left behind under the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act would be people of modest means who qualify for Medicaid or receive sizable subsidies for private insurance.”

Big Majority Enrolled in Obamacare Are from Trump States

“Americans in states that Donald Trump carried in his march to the White House account for more than 4 in 5 of those signed up for coverage under the health care law the president still wants to take down,” ABC News reports.

“An Associated Press analysis of new figures from the government found that 7.3 million of the 8.8 million consumers signed up so far for next year come from states Trump won in the 2016 presidential election. The four states with the highest number of sign-ups — Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia, accounting for nearly 3.9 million customers — were all Trump states.”

Republicans Keep Whacking at Obamacare

Washington Post: “Before Congress left Washington for the year, Republicans finally made good on their determination to knock big holes in the Affordable Care Act, crippling its requirement that most Americans carry health insurance and leaving insurers without billions of dollars in promised federal payments.”

“At the same time, public support for the perennially controversial law has inched up to around its highest point in a half-dozen years. Nearly 9 million people so far have signed up for ACA health plans for 2018 during a foreshortened enrollment season, far surpassing expectations.”

“This dual reality puts the sprawling ACA — prized domestic legacy of the Obama era, whipping post of the Trump administration — at a new precipice, with its long-term fate hinging on the November midterm elections certain to consume Washington once the new year begins.”

McConnell Wants to Move Past Obamacare Repeal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told NPR that he wants the Senate to move past Obamacare repeal in 2018 in favor of stabilizing insurance markets and to other issues.

However, Politico notes McConnell’s comment “drew a sharp rebuke from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is hoping to revive a bill next year repealing Obamacare in favor of block grants to states.”

Said Graham: “I think that’s a huge mistake. We should do everything we can to replace it, as much as Democrats did to pass it. We own it now.”