Millions of Americans Could Lose Health Insurance Under Republican Health Care Proposal

Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration had 24 million reasons to be unhappy on Monday: that’s the number of Americans who would lose their health insurance under the Republican-crafted American Health Care Act by 2026, according to a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.  The major findings of the CBO estimate:

  • The AHCA would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion from 2017-2026.
  • The biggest savings would come from reductions in Medicaid and the elimination of subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act.
  • The biggest costs would come from repealing changes to the Internal Revenue Code caused by the ACA.
  • In 2018, there would be 14 million more uninsured people than under the current ACA law.
  • This figure will continue to increase by 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026.
  • By 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be without health insurance, compared to 28 million people for current projections under the ACA.
  • The reduction in insurance coverage between 2018-2026 would be in large part from states discontinuing the Medicaid expansion program offered under the ACA.
  • In 2018 and 2019, average premiums for single policyholders would be 15-20 percent higher than under the current law. Average premiums would start to decrease in 2020.
  • By 2026, average premiums for single policy holders would be 10 percent lower than under the current law.
  • However, the savings on premiums (or lack thereof) vary by age:
    • For a 21-year-old: 20-25 percent less
    • For a 40-year-old: 8-10 percent less
    • For a 64-year-old: 20-25 percent higher
  • Medicaid spending would decrease by $880 billion from 2017-2026.
  • By 2026, Medicaid spending would be 25 percent less than what the CBO estimates currently under the ACA.

Republicans – who had previously cited CBO estimates as evidence to attack the ACA – had been preemptively attacking or trying to question the credibility of the agency in the days leading up to the estimate’s release. Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council, told Fox News, “We will see what the score is, in fact in the past, the CBO score has really been meaningless.” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told reporters, “We disagree strenuously,” with the CBO’s findings.

Not all Republicans were optimistic about the proposed law, even before the CBO estimate was released. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) warned House Republicans that they would be risking their majority if they voted for the AHCA, and told them, “Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote.”

Opposition to the bill is not limited to Democrats. A variety of organizations ranging from the left, right and center have all publicly come out against the AHCA. They include the AARP, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth, Moveon.org, and the Center for American Progress.

Democrats attacked the AHCA almost immediately after its unveiling last week, because it finally gave them a concrete Republican policy proposal to target after nearly seven years of a vague and undefined “repeal and replace” pledge Republicans offered as an alternative to the ACA.  The CBO estimate will provide them with quantifiable data for campaign ads and talking points to target Republicans running for election or reelection in the 2017 and 2018 cycles.

In a statement, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said, “Donald Trump’s ‘insurance for everybody’ pledge was a big fat lie.”

“The CBO, which is headed by a Republican-appointed director, just made it clear that Trump’s health care plan will cause up to 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance. At the same time, the plan slashes Medicaid, drives up the cost of care for older Americans, and defunds life-saving services provided by Planned Parenthood. The only winners here are Trump, and the corporations and rich people who get to pocket new tax breaks.”

“Of course, instead of admitting that the bill would leave millions without health insurance, Republicans are desperately trying to discredit the CBO with more ‘alternative facts.’ The American people are smarter than that.”

Tyler Law, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, issued a statement saying, “Every single House Republican owns this catastrophic bill and should be prepared for backlash at the ballot box, particularly given the anticipated loss of coverage for 14 million people as early as next year.”

UPDATE: Politico viewed a White House assessment of the AHCA which estimated 26 million Americans would lose their health insurance by 2026 – two million more than the CBO estimate. The explanation for the document from White House Communications Director Michael Dubke was, “This is OMB trying to project what CBO’s score will be using CBO’s methodology.”

John Kerry Signs Deal For His Memoir

This was announced today in Publisher’s Weekly:

Former Secretary of State John Kerry will publish a memoir with Simon & Schuster. Jonathan Karp, president and publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint, and Bob Bender, v-p and executive editor, who will edit the book, acquired world publishing rights in all formats from Robert B. Barnett of Williams & Connolly. No publication date has yet been set. The book will also be published by Simon & Schuster’s international companies in Australia, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom, and in audiobook by Simon & Schuster Audio.

Kerry was represented by Bob Barnett, the same Washington uber-lawyer who has negotiated book deals for the Obamas, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Sarah Palin, and many other national political figures. In addition to his tenure as Obama’s Secretary of State, I assume the book will also cover his 2004 presidential run and his Senate career.

JFK Library Honoring President Obama With Profile in Courage Award

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum announced Barack Obama as the recipient of its Profile in Courage Award, which the 44th president will receive at a special ceremony at the library on May 7. The ceremony will be part of the celebrations for the centennial of President Kennedy’s birth on May 29.  The award will be presented by former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and her son Jack Schlossberg, President Kennedy’s daughter and grandson.  President Obama will deliver a speech.  In a statement from the JFK Library, President Obama said:

“It’s been more than half a century since John F. Kennedy asked us to cast aside our narrow self-interest and take up the chase of a greater ambition: our collective capacity to do big things, especially when it’s hard,” said President Obama. “It was a call to citizenship as true as the words of our founding and a conviction that helped guide me to public service as a younger man – a belief in the possibilities of our democracy and the power of what we, the people, can do together.

“Even today, amidst the noisy and too often trivial pursuits of the politics of our time, it’s a summons to service that rings as loudly as ever.  Part of that is thanks to an extraordinary family that continues to light the fire of imagination and plant the seed of noble ambition in the minds of each new generation of Americans.  Like so many Americans, I am grateful for the Kennedy family’s legacy of service.  And I am deeply humbled to receive the Profile in Courage Award.”

According to the award’s website,

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award was created in 1989 by members of President Kennedy’s family to honor President John F. Kennedy and to recognize and celebrate the quality of political courage that he admired most.

The award recognizes a public official (or officials) at the federal, state or local level whose actions demonstrate the qualities of politically courageous leadership in the spirit of Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer prize-winning book, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. Senators who risked their careers by embracing unpopular positions for the greater good.

President Obama has kept a low profile for the most part since leaving office in January, though he was recently sighted in New York City and signed a lucrative publishing deal for his and his wife’s memoirs. This presentation and speech will likely be one of President Obama’s first public appearances (if not THE first) of his post-presidency.

Obama Memoirs Bidding War Reaches Eight Figures

President and Mrs. Obama have about 60 million reasons to smile today, according to the Financial Times:

A blockbuster auction for the global rights to two books by Barack and Michelle Obama has reached more than $60m, according to people with knowledge of the sales process, a record sum for US presidential memoirs.

The Obamas are writing separate books but selling the rights jointly.

Several publishers including Penguin Random House, which published Mr Obama’s previous three books, and HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, have expressed interest in the most hotly anticipated publishing deal of the year.

Some perspective on how this compares to other presidential book deal:

The sum offered would eclipse other book deals secured by departing presidents. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House, paid $15m for the rights to Bill Clinton’s 2004 memoirs My Life when he left the White House, while George W Bush made an estimated $10m from his book Decision Points, which was published by Crown.

UPDATE: According to the New York Times, Penguin Random House won the bidding war for the worldwide rights to both books. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but estimated to be worth “tens of millions.” There will be a nonprofit/charity component to the publication and the advances of both books.

The publisher plans to donate one million books in the Obama family’s name to First Book, a Penguin Random House nonprofit partner, and the Washington-based partner for the 2016 White House digital education initiative, Open eBooks. The Obamas also plan to donate a portion of their advances to charity, including the Obama Foundation.

John Kerry Hasn’t Ruled Out Another Presidential Run

Buried in the final two paragraphs of this New York Times article about John Kerry’s new gig at Yale University is this little gem:

While Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, emphasized that the Kerry Initiative is “not a political platform — it’s a teaching platform,” Mr. Kerry, who is also writing his memoirs, has not ruled out a run for president in 2020.

“I haven’t been thinking about it or talking about it,” he said. “I haven’t ruled anything in or anything out.”

Keep in mind, for a time leading up to the 2008 cycle, Kerry left the door open for another possible run. That door closed in no small part because of his poorly chosen comments about troops being stuck in Iraq if they didn’t get an education, the subsequent controversy which neutralized him as a surrogate during the closing days of the 2006 midterms.  In addition to that, he discovered in early 2007 that the money just wasn’t there for him, particularly in a field that included Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Things may be different in 2019, depending on the field of candidates, the state of the country, the results of the 2018 midterms, and public opinion of the Trump administration as it prepares to defend its record and run for reelection. If he has to compete against someone like Elizabeth Warren for the nomination, it could be very difficult. On the other hand, he would also have to stand out and consolidate support from the  establishment wing of the party, in a field that could include Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Cuomo or John Hickenlooper.

One thing Kerry would have going for him in his second run is his experience as Obama’s secretary of state, which may give him ammunition to criticize the Trump administration on its handling of foreign affairs.

Obamaworld Update: Book and Speech Negotiations, Citizen 44

According to The Hill, the Obamas have signed on with the Harry Walker Agency, which will represent them and arrange their post-White House speaking gigs.  The publication also reports that Washington D.C. lawyers Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell will represent them in negotiations for potential book deals.  There are no book releases or speaking engagements currently planned.

There’s also this bit of news from Politico Playbook:

Allison Zelman, a Clinton and Obama alum, and Paulette Aniskoff, a former director of the Office of Public Engagement at the Obama White House, have launched Citizen 44 LLC, which will “oversee President Obama’s engagement with political and progressive organizations and major supporters around the country to defend his legacy. They will also run his alumni network.” FROM ANITA BRECKENRIDGE, OBAMA’S CHIEF OF STAFF: “Paulette is someone who the President has relied on, and who countless allies and activists partnered closely with during our time in the White House. During her ten years on the campaign and inside the administration, she ran point on some of the most important fights we had and was a trusted senior strategist. We are thrilled to have her as a key member of the post presidency team.”

I don’t suppose anyone told them that Citizen 44 sounds very close to Citizenfour, the Oscar-winning documentary about Edward Snowden…

UPDATE: Reaction from Paulette Aniskoff