Good morning, friends! Literally everyone who has ever been employed by the Trump administration is in town this week. Meanwhile, the Obamacare repeal is back and even Republicans are making zombie jokes.
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Today, let’s talk about healthcare.
What’s at stake
The Senate is trying to repeal Obamacare again, with a bill authored by Sens. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, whom Sen. Jack Thune of South Dakota has nicknamed "the grave robber" for resurrecting a bill long thought dead. Snappy!
The bill echoes some of the past ones — including Medicaid reductions (Republicans contend they're just slowing the growth of the program) and, the New York Times reports, millions of Americans potentially losing insurance. States could also get waivers that allow them to "charge higher premiums to sick people," the Times reports, or stop covering benefits that are currently mandated under Obamacare.
The local angle
Pennsylvania's Sen. Bob Casey, as with past repeal attempts, has sharply criticized the bill, citing stats from the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities that suggest Pennsylvania could lose $850 million in Medicaid funding by 2026. (I wrote a bit about hospitals that rely on those funds earlier this summer.) Casey's counterpart, Sen. Pat Toomey, says he's still reviewing the bill.
And the bill funds healthcare in the states through block grants — a set amount of money for each state, calculated through a formula that Graham and Cassidy say is designed to even out healthcare funding between states. "Four states get 37% of Obamacare dollars. Support should be equal across the nation," the senators wrote in a fact sheet on the bill.
So critics worry that states that have expanded Medicaid, like Pennsylvania, could lose out, while states that didn't expand the coverage will see an increase in funding.
If Senate Republicans want to pass this bill, they have to do it by Sept. 30 — otherwise, they lose the power to pass it with a simple majority. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has already said he's not going to vote for it, Sen. Susan Collins is expected to join him, and a third "no" vote is all that's needed to kill it. President Trump has used the Senate's failure to pass an Obamacare repeal as a cudgel on Twitter, mocking Republicans as he cuts deals with top Democrats. So even if this particular attempt fails, this is too symbolic (and, at this point, too embarrassing) for Republicans to set aside forever. Keep your eyes peeled.
What they’re saying
"Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!….." — President Trump on Twitter, apparently expressing support for a legislative version of DACA, the program protecting undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children, which his administration is ending.
"We are not a bargaining chip." — A chant from a protest organized by young undocumented immigrants who shut down Rep. Nancy Pelosi's press conference Monday, arguing for a "clean" DACA bill that doesn't include funding for border security or a wall.
"I'm not going to, obviously, go into any detail." — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, predictably telling a crowd at the National Constitution Center last night that he wasn't going to talk about the Russia investigation.
In other news
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the head of President Trump's opioids commission, has tasked the National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical companies with developing less addictive pain meds and new medical treatments for people addicted to heroin. Meanwhile, Trump said a month ago he was going to declare a national emergency over the crisis, but his people are still working out exactly how to do that. Philadelphia is on track to see 1,200 overdose deaths this year.
I went to the National Federation of Republican Women conference this weekend and wrote about what it's like to be a woman in this Republican party.
After city officials sued, a federal judge in Chicago has partially blocked Attorney General Jeff Sessions' attempts to withhold federal grants from sanctuary cities. Philly has its own lawsuit moving through the courts, and city officials told me last week they're gratified by the ruling and continuing to pursue their suit. "Thank god for the independent judiciary," city council president Darrell Clarke said.
What I’m reading
The New York Times on the latest in the Russia investigation: Special prosecutor Robert Mueller told erstwhile Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort they "planned to indict him" after raiding his house earlier this year.
The Atlantic breaks down the other big healthcare bill moving through Congress: Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicaid for All Act, which, while it is definitely not passing, could be a bellwether for the future of the Democratic Party.
A non-political palate cleanser
Here is a delightful column by my colleague Samantha Melamed on Big Charlie's Saloon, an inexplicably passionate bastion of Kansas City Chiefs fandom in South Philly, and also my old corner bar.