WE’RE NOT STUPID.” That explanation, from a Republican aide for why the GOP is crafting their health care bill in secret, tells you everything the fine print we don’t have would: voters won’t like what’s in it. Higher premiums, no guarantee of coverage for pre-existing conditions, and an age tax – they’ll face the same anger and backlash that their House colleagues did. Speaking of the House – the ongoing analysis on their bill keeps getting worse: 

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: 23 million coverage loss includes 3 million children – a 50 percent spike in the uninsured rate

The Commonwealth Fund: If the American Health Care Act becomes law, it could lead to nearly 1 million jobs lost

Kaiser Family Foundation: AHCA may lead insurance companies to eliminate essential health benefits they’re now required to cover – like maternity care and substance abuse treatment

No wonder Republicans are doing everything they can to keep this bill out of the public eye (even HHS Secretary Price doesn’t know what’s in it). But, we have a message for the GOP aide who bragged they aren’t stupid: neither are voters. Take a look at this New York Times analysis that “not one state supports” their health care plan.


And for any Republican hoping the lack of details keeps them safe back home, here’s what voters in battleground states are reading:
IN – Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: Over 310,000 Hoosiers could lose insurance.
MO – St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Editorial: GOP Senate quietly resuscitates a ‘mean’ health care bill.
OH – Cutting Medicaid in the Obamacare repeal could undermine opioid epidemic fight.
PA – Beaver County Times: Report: Pennsylvania could lose 85,000 jobs by 2026 under House GOP health-care plan.
WI – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin continues to lose out under Republicans’ Obamacare repeal legislation.

HELLER AND FLAKE CAUGHT IN A HEALTHCARE VISE. DSCC’s Political Director Dan McNally observes that Senators Heller and Flake are in a “lose-lose” situation on health care. Some key points from his latest Medium post, which Axios first reported:

  1. If Senators Heller and Flake oppose the health care bill too loudly, they risk provoking a serious backlash from their Republican base.
  2. If they continue supporting the Republican health care agenda, they will lose moderate and independent voters who will decide the election in Nevada and Arizona.
  3. Either way, Heller and Flake have a health care record they can’t escape – and those records will take center stage at a time when voters care deeply about their health care.

Read more here.

WE AGREE WITH TRUMP. You read that right. At a roundtable with Republican Senators on Wednesday, Trump called the House health care bill “mean” – echoing what the AARP, the American Medical Association, and other health care groups (plus yours truly) have been saying all along. The Health 202 notes that voters will hear these comments “for months on end,” and that’s right: consider this our opening salvo.

Two late-breaking healthcare articles worth a read:
Vox: I’ve covered Obamacare since day one. I’ve never seen lying and obstruction like this.
Vox: We asked 8 Senate Republicans to explain what their health bill is trying to do.

🍿 #WVSEN COMPETES FOR NASTIEST PRIMARY. 🍿The competition for nastiest primary looks like it’ll be fierce, and The Hill’s latest look at the West Virginia race makes it a contender. Congressman Jenkins and Attorney General Morrisey both “took to local radio… to sharpen their attacks on one another ahead of an expected clash in the state’s GOP Senate primary.”

Speaking of primaries… the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Kevin Nicholson has been poll-testing his past voting record “to see which one is more acceptable to Republican voters.” Look for this to be an issue in the primary – Republicans have already begun questioning his conservative bonafides.

“PHONY” SCOTT SELLS OUT FL’S FAMILIES. Governor Scott’s self-serving session ended this week as he signed a controversial education bill that slashes funding for public schools in order to give tax dollars to corporations that want to profit off children’s education – all in exchange for a political slush fund. Newspapers across the state blasted the secretive way this deal was brought about, with the Ocala Star Banner, Palm Beach Post, Sun Sentinel, Gainesville Sun, Pensacola News Journal, and the Tampa Bay Times editorial boards all accusing Scott of doing what’s best for himself at the expense of hardworking Floridians.

BROWN FIGHTING FOR US. While Republicans in Congress keep finding new ways to make health care less affordable and accessible, Democrats are fighting for us – like Senator Brown who introduced a bill this week that would “penalize pharmaceutical companies for ‘price gouging’ for prescription drugs.”

MANDEL’S EMBARRASSING AMENDMENT. Apparently Republican lawmakers in Ohio really didn’t like when State Treasurer Josh Mandel used taxpayer funds for shady self-promotion. First, the Republican-controlled House introduced the Mandel amendment – an amendment “aimed at just one statewide officeholder (Mandel) who used $1.7 million in taxpayer money last year to promote himself ahead of declaring his candidacy for higher office.” Now, the Republican-controlled Senate is getting in on the action by completely slashing the advertising budget for the program Mandel used to promote himself. That’s embarrassing.


OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. Just in time for happy hour: Special Counsel Mueller is investigating President Trump for possible obstruction of justice. Our take: No matter the outcome, this investigation is a drag on any Republican running for Senate in 2018. This shouldn’t be about party politics, but Republicans aren’t exactly showing leadership when it comes to these investigations – and that will be a liability with the moderate and independent voters who want the White House, no matter which party occupies it, to have a check in Congress. PS: the drip. drip. drip. doesn’t help the recruitment and primary struggles that are already underway; this news is only a further deterrent for anyone thinking of running.

OH – Toledo Blade: Human trafficking bill introduced by Sen. Brown
IN – WTHR: Donnelly wants to improve access to mental health services for veterans
MORE IN – WISHTV: Senator Donnelly tours VA Roudebush Medical Center
MO – St. Louis Post-Dispatch: New VA leader supports efforts to help WWII vets exposed to mustard gas, McCaskill says
WV – The Daily Athenaeum: Senator Joe Manchin Criticizes Scholarship Defunding
WI – Wisconsin Public Radio: New Bill In Congress Seeks To Make Drug Price Increases More Transparent

TWEET OF THE WEEK. We’re keeping the victims of this week’s shooting and their families and friends in our thoughts, and continue to be grateful for the brave members of the Capitol police force. Have a safe weekend, everyone.


Lauren Passalacqua

Ben Ray

David Bergstein

Courtney Rice

Justin Lavoie


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