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White House won't commit to Trump support for Senate health care bill

White House won't commit to Trump support for Senate health care bill

Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to say if President Donald Trump himself will be whipping for votes, as he did to push the House bill over the finish line. | Getty

The White House refused to commit on Thursday as to whether President Donald Trump will support the Senate’s newly revealed bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Trump has already called at least one senator to find out if he could be persuaded to support the bill, and lawmakers said the White House offered advice during the drafting process. But on Thursday, the White House would not give the bill — which was forged largely behind closed doors and could be voted on as soon as next week — a ringing endorsement.

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When asked at a news briefing whether Trump supports the bill, principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders demurred. And on two of the most controversial issues at hand — cuts to Medicaid and to Planned Parenthood — Sanders declined to indicate whether Trump has any firm position.

“He wants to bring the stakeholders to the table, have those conversations and we’ll get back to you,” Sanders said, painting the bill as a work in progress. “We’ve been talking about reforming health care for a number of years; I don’t think it’s moving too fast.”

Trump had called the House version of the legislation to repeal Obamacare too harsh. Asked by reporters earlier on Thursday what he thought of the Senate draft, he responded that it was "going to be very good."

"Obamacare is dead, and we're putting a plan out today that is going to be negotiated," Trump said.

Vice President Mike Pence appeared supportive in his remarks on Thursday. "We look forward to working with the Senate majority to move this legislation forward," he said.

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But when pressed on Trump’s campaign-trail pledge to protect Medicaid — a program both the House and Senate bills curtail — Sanders said Trump “wants to protect that as much as possible.”

“I don’t believe that the president has specifically weighed in that it’s right to cut Medicaid,” Sanders said. “The president hasn’t weighed in specifically on any specific measure in this bill and as he said earlier today, this is a negotiation between the House and the Senate, we’re going to play a part in that.”

The Senate bill would phase out Medicaid expansion and make deep cuts to the program. The House bill, which Trump celebrated in a Rose Garden ceremony, would do the same.

When asked whether he would sign a bill that funds Planned Parenthood — like the House version, the Senate bill cuts funding for a year — Sanders responded: “I’m not sure.”

Some GOP senators have voiced frustration about the process that produced the bill, and a number of Republicans have concerns about Medicaid, Planned


GOP Senate Health Care Bill: What you need to know

GOP Senate Health Care Bill: What you need to know Health care

The Senate’s sweeping Obamacare repeal has the same overarching goals as the House-passed American Health Care Act, including an overhaul of Medicaid, striking many of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance regulations and coverage mandates and getting rid of Obamacare taxes. But the chambers diverge in some important ways. Here is a summary of key points:

What the Senate health care bill does to Obamacare:

Individual mandate eliminate
Cost-sharing subsidies eliminate
Planned Parentdood funding eliminate
Pre-existing conditions change
Medicaid expansion change
Traditional Medicaid change
Insurance subsidies change
Opioid funding change

What is eliminated

Individual mandate

Requires everyone to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

Penalties for going without insurance would disappear.

Cost-sharing subsidies

The law provides payments to insurers to cover medical bills for most low-income customers on Obamacare’s marketplaces. Republicans say Congress never properly appropriated the payments, worth $7 billion this year.

The payments would be extended for two years before they are eliminated.

Planned Parenthood funding

There is no corresponding provision in the ACA.

The women’s health organization would be banned from the Medicaid program for one year.

What changed

Pre-existing conditions

Insurers are banned from charging people more or denying coverage based on an existing medical condition

That requirement remains. But states could waive other insurance rules that could weaken protections for medical conditions, such as the basic benefit package and the minimum payments insurers must make toward medical bills.

What changed from House: The House bill would have let states opt out of the requirement that insurers must charge everyone the same, regardless of pre-existing conditions.

Medicaid expansion

States were encouraged to expand their Medicaid programs and received enhanced federal payments to cover more people.

The Senate bill will gradually roll back enhanced federal funding over three years starting in 2021.

What changed from House: The rollback would begin in 2020 for people who come off the Medicaid rolls and new enrollees wouldn’t receive enhanced funding.

Traditional Medicaid

There is no corresponding provision in the ACA.

The Senate plan dramatically overhauls the traditional Medicaid program covering low-income kids, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities. Instead of receiving open-ended funding from the federal government, states will receive a set amount per enrollee and have new flexibility to run their programs. Certain vulnerable populations could be protected from the spending cap. States would have the option to add work requirements for able-bodied adults.

What changed from House: The Senate cuts Medicaid more deeply than the House bill. Starting in 2025, the Senate version uses a slower annual growth rate for payments made to states.

Insurance subsidies

The law subsidizes premiums on insurance marketplaces for people who don’t get coverage through work or qualify for other government programs. Income-based subsidies are available to people earning up to four times the federal poverty level.

Starting in 2020, eligibility


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Sen. Dianne Feinstein is pictured.

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Winners and losers from the Senate repeal bill

U.S. Capitol Police remove a protester.

U.S. Capitol Police remove a protester during a sit-in outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office Thursday. The newly released health care bill rolls back the federal government’s generous funding for Medicaid expansion. | AFP/Getty

The wealthy, young and healthy come out ahead in the GOP's newly revealed plan, while addiction treatment programs and Planned Parenthood are slated to lose funding.


06/22/2017 04:10 PM EDT

The Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill , which touches all parts of the health care system and beyond, creates new sets of winners and losers. Here are a few:


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The wealthy: The bill would strike Affordable Care Act taxes on high earners, particularly a levy on investment income that fell on married couples with more than $250,000 of adjusted gross income and single filers with more than $200,000 of adjusted gross income. It also nixes a Medicare Hospital Insurance tax on incomes above $250,000.

The young and healthy: The plan focuses on lowering premiums by allowing states to cut some of Obamacare’s major insurance rules that help protect sicker patients but also drive up the cost of coverage. For instance, states could cut mandated coverage of emergency care and substance abuse treatment. Younger and healthier people with fewer health care needs would be able to buy skimpier health insurance.

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GOP governors who fought Obamacare: Republican governors who sought less federal oversight and more state control over their insurance markets will get tremendous leeway under waivers in the Senate bill. The Senate plan would roll back requirements about what insurers must cover and expedite state applications seeking more flexibility. For instance, governors would no longer need permission from their legislatures to obtain waivers.

Some health industry groups: Medical device makers, health insurers and tanning establishments, among others, would see the eventual elimination of ACA taxes on their products or services — although some of those taxes may be kept temporarily to pay for parts of the plan. Major provider groups, however, including the American Hospital Association, have come out forcefully against the Senate bill, while many other industry groups were still reviewing the plan Thursday afternoon.


Poorer, older insurance consumers: The Senate plan, like the House bill, would allow insurers to charge their older customers up to five times as much as younger customers for the same health plan. That’s an expansion of the so-called age band in Obamacare, which allows insurers to charge older customers no more than three times as much as younger ones. In two years, the Senate plan would also eliminate a key subsidy program that helps cover out-of-pocket medical bills for low-income consumers.

People struggling with addiction: The bill rolls back the federal government’s generous funding for Medicaid expansion, which has been a major source of substance


DNC: The Russians had been booted from our system by the time DHS called

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is pictured.

The DNC is pushing back after former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson (pictured) testified before Congress that the DNC rebuffed the agency’s offer to help. | AP Photo

The Democratic National Committee had kicked Russian hackers out of its computer systems by June of last year — two months before the Department of Homeland Security called to offer assistance, according to DNC officials.

The DNC is pushing back after former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before Congress that the DNC rebuffed the agency’s offer to help — testimony that drew gloating tweets on Thursday morning from President Donald Trump.

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“Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks (long prior to election),” the president wrote. In another tweet, he said it was “all a big Dem scam and excuse for losing the election!”

It’s the latest dust-up in a long-running blame game over why the DNC and the federal government did not do more to stop Russian cyber intrusions, which U.S. intelligence agencies now say were part of a covert effort to subvert the election process and damage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

DNC officials insist DHS’ offer to help came after their computer systems had already been patched — and say they did provide information on the hack to DHS. By the time DHS reached out, according to one DNC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the organization had already been working for months with the FBI and the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike “to kick the Russians out of our system.”

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“The DNC had already completed remediation” by the time DHS called, the official explained. DNC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement that that the organization “provided DHS with detailed information about the intrusion.”

In his testimony Wednesday, Johnson acknowledged his agency was late to the game — to his frustration. He did not learn of the DNC hack, he said, until after the FBI and DNC had been in contact about it for some time.

“I was not very happy to be learning about it several months later,” he told the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s meddling in the presidential election. Some of his frustration appeared to be directed at the FBI for not reading him in earlier.

But Johnson also expressed disappointment with the DNC, both for its response to DHS’ offer to help and over the fact that it never turned over its computer server to the government for inspection.

After learning of the hack, Johnson testified, “I pressed my staff to know whether DHS was sufficiently proactive, and on the scene helping the DNC identify the intruders and patch vulnerabilities. The answer, to the best of my recollection, was not reassuring.

“The DNC,” he continued, “did not feel

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