Democrats Pan ‘Cynical And Immoral’ GOP Health Care Bill After CBO Score Released

Congressional Democrats immediately lobbed harsh criticism at the GOP Senate health care bill after a Congressional Budget Office estimateshowed 22 million people stand to lose health insurance coverage if the bill becomes law.

The legislation intends to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and has already faced tough criticism from Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who last week described the proposals tax savings for the wealthy as blood money.

Mondays CBO score confirmed what those Democrats already suspected: Because the bill dramatically scales back funding for Medicaid, millions will lose their health coverage over the next decade, and savings will mostly be transferred to health care companies and wealthy individuals via tax cuts.

Throwing 22 million Americans off of health insurance, raising premiums for older Americans, defunding Planned Parenthood and giving $231 billion in tax breaks to the top 2 percent is a cynical and immoral proposal, said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), one of the bills most prominent critics. The reality is that this so-called health care bill is nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth from working families to the very rich.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) had a more concise assessment:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) described the bill as a humanitarian catastrophe waiting to happen.

Other Democrats questioned how Republicans could support the bill known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act in good conscience.

After working largely in secret, Senate Republicans unveiled their version of the House-approved health care bill last Thursday.In addition to its draconian cuts to Medicaid, the bill will also change the private insurance market by adjusting financial assistance eligibility benchmarks to include fewer middle-class people and by reducing the amount of assistance people will receive.

It would also effectively eliminate the Affordable Care Acts individual mandate, which requires most Americans to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty,and would give states the ability to waive requirements for coverage of essential benefits and eliminate many taxes for health care companies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has pushed to hold a vote on this bill this week, though he has yet to come up with the votes necessary to pass it.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), one of several GOP senators who have so far declined to back the bill, said he didnt think lawmakers had enough information to cast a vote yet.

Theres no way we should be voting on this next week, he said. Theres no way.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) have also publicly opposed the bill in its current form.

Read more:

Google Exec Shares Story Of How Health Care Helped Son Before His Heartbreaking Death

A Silicon Valley executive wrote a series of tweets Monday about the devastating loss of his son, as well as his gratitude for the vital health care and the insurance that paid for it that gave him 11 special years with his boy.

He shared his experiences now because he fears that without the help his family and his son Riley had, other children and parents would face similar ordeals under the health care bill Senate Republicans aim to vote on this week. The Congressional Budget Office said in a report Monday that 22 million people could lose insurance in the next decade because of the bill, including millions on Medicaid.

I havent tweeted much about health care because its a painful subject for me. But its important. So let me tell you my story, wrote Ken Norton, an executive at Google Ventures who lives in the San Francisco Bay area. But its important. So let me tell you my story.

This is a photo Norton shared of Riley when he was a little boy:

Ken Norton
Riley Norton has a blast on his bike.

And here:

Riley was born with a critical heart defect in 2003.

Fortunately, we had excellent health care through my job, Norton tweeted. For the next 11 years, nothing was more important to me than having coverage. Rileys surgeries and hospitalizations cost more than $3 million, all covered by Nortons insurance, he said. The insurance company couldnt deny coverage due to Rileys pre-existing condition, nor was there a lifetime maximum cap on costs.

The current Senate health care bill would allow insurance companies to apply for coverage waivers that critics fear could end payments for care for people with pre-existing conditions. The waivers could also eliminate caps on personal out-of-pocket expenditures, meaning patients could be forced to pay enormous bills.

We got 11 years with Riley because the very best doctors in the world did everything they could for him, without regard for cost, Norton tweeted.

Norton said he and his family focused on giving Riley a happy life. They didnt have to raise money on Go Fund Me, the crowdsourcing site many families facing high medical costs use to raise money, or borrow money to keep their son alive. Norton clung to his job and its critically important health insurance. It terrified him to think that he could lose health coverage and Rileys link to his lifeline, he said.

Now Norton has shared his experience on Twitter to let people know that there can be no divisions among the American people when it comes to helping sick people and saving lives.

There are no healthy and sickpeople. Healthy people can turn into sick people really fucking suddenly, wrote Norton, and sometimes having access to critical health care can just come down to good luck.

Everyone agrees the Affordable Care Act needs fixing, Norton concludes. But Im here to tell you that there is no us and them, no responsible taxpayers and irresponsible moochers, we are them and they are us. I want everyone to have what we had. Because we are all humans.

Norton did not immediately respond to a HuffPost request for comment.

Read more:

McConnell’s test: Can he do more than obstruct?

(CNN)Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing a major test this week. Since revealing the details of the Republican health care plan, McConnell has watched as a number of important senators in his own party announced their concerns or opposition. Some, such as Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, have urged him to postpone the vote based on the assumption that, at this moment, it would not pass the upper chamber where the majority only has a slim 52 seats.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the Congressional Budget Office announced that under the Senate bill there would be 22 million more uninsured Americans by 2026, making McConnell’s efforts to pass the bill that much more difficult.
But McConnell’s supporters believe he can make this happen. They see McConnell as a modern-day Lyndon Johnson, who has served as both Senate minority and majority leader, an old-school legislator who can twist arms and cut deals to bring his party together. They are confident that despite all the potential problems with this bill, McConnell must have enough tricks up his sleeve to defy conventional wisdom.
    But the truth is it’s nearly impossible to predict if McConnell will succeed. To many, he has defined his career as an obstructionist rather than as someone who creates new policies. The challenge he faces this week is fundamentally different than much of what he has confronted in his time as a party leader.
    Most of McConnell’s skills have come as a member of the congressional minority or as a majority leader facing a president from the other party. Under those conditions, McConnell could be brilliant and devastating. Shortly after President Obama’s inauguration, Utah Republican Bob Bennett recalled McConnell telling a retreat of Republicans: “We have a new president with an approval rating in the 70% area. We do not take him on frontally. We find issues where we can win, and we begin to take him down, one issue at a time.”
    His track record as an agent of obstruction is legendary. Throughout the Obama presidency, McConnell proved to be extremely effective at blocking many key legislative initiatives, from immigration reform to climate change regulations to criminal justice reform, that sometimes even commanded bipartisan support. The senator proved he knew how to whip up a no vote and to stand firm against intense political pressure to act.
    He demonstrated the same savvy with judicial and executive branch appointments. McConnell was more than willing to let seats remain empty. Never was his ability to hold the party together as clear as when Justice Antonin Scalia died during President Obama’s term. The Senate majority leader refused to even hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland, based on the spurious argument that the next president should have the right to decide on the appointment. The seat remained vacant until a Republican controlled the White House.
    As an obstructionist, McConnell demonstrated he was able to ignore the scrutiny of the media no matter how hot it became. When pundits and policymakers took to the airwaves to lambast the Republicans for failing to govern or for creating a constitutional crisis, McConnell didn’t flinch. The breaking news cycle didn’t faze him. He plays, as he titled his memoir, the “Long Game” with an eye on the needs of his party. Between 2009 and 2017, he kept up the pressure on his colleagues in the Senate to stick to their guns, and it worked.
    Now the situation is different. For the first time in his career as a party leader (other than the brief moment he was selected as Senate majority leader in 2006), the public will see just how well he can perform in making things happen rather than blocking progress.
    But the skills are different on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
    Part of the job of the majority leader in times of united government is to bring disparate parts of the party together around proposals to change the status quo. “Trumpcare” would do just that. This is legislation that will strip away the health care benefits for millions of Americans and create a period of great uncertainty for health care markets.
    Some conservatives want Congress to do much more in dismantling government. To them, the government would still be spending too much money subsidizing markets and leaving too many regulations in place. Others in the GOP are not willing to make such grandiose changes, realizing the effects it will have on their electorate. In particular, they fear the effects of the rollback of Medicaid on their populations as well as the higher deductibles that people with more illnesses will face.
    Can McConnell bring these sides together, and work with the intransigent Freedom Caucus in the House, around legislation that will change the status quo and where Republicans will likely be blamed for any negative outcome?
    In the modern era, part of the job of the majority leader has also been to sell ideas to the public. This is where the job of the obstructionist is very different than the job of the policy creator. Unlike some recent Senate majority leaders, McConnell doesn’t really like to be on television and he tends to avoid reporters whenever possible. In this case, that comes at a cost since the natural face of the party is not out there convincing Americans why this is a good idea. That task is left to others, and right now his fellow salesmen, as reflected in public opinion polls about the health care bills, are doing a poor job.
    Until now, President Trump has not tested McConnell, since he has focused almost exclusively on executive actions and avoided the legislative front on large-scale issues.
    It is worth noting that McConnell does not really have many legislative issues that he is known for, other than his fierce opposition in the 1990s to campaign finance reform. This week he is dealing with a major issue that would have his signature in the history books.

    Join us on Twitter and Facebook

    Can McConnell deliver on this controversial legislation? Can he play the part of leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, who delivered when Democrats controlled the White House and Congress in the mid-1960s? Or, is this problematic bill something that is just too hot for this legislative leader to deliver?
    This is a question that will be answered as the week unfolds.

    Read more:

    Sen. Murkowski on health care bill: ‘I don’t have enough information’

    Washington (CNN)Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Monday that she doesn’t “have enough information” to vote for on the Senate GOP’s health care bill.

    “I don’t have enough data in terms of the impact to my state to be able to vote in the affirmative,” the Alaska lawmaker told CNN’s Dana Bash. “So I’m trying to get the information. … This is big stuff, and so making sure that we get it right is something that I have said is an imperative.”
    Murkowski’s comments come just hours after the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the Senate bill’s impact, prompting multiple Republicans to express doubts about the legislation or reiterate that they would not vote for the bill in its current form.
      The report determined the Senate Republican health care bill would leave 22 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than under the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. The Senate proposal would reduce deficits by $321 billion over the next decade. By comparison, the CBO said that the House’s bill to “repeal and replace” Obama’s health care law, which passed in May, would leave 23 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than under Obamacare.
      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pressing for a vote this week before lawmakers leave town for the July 4 recess. There are 52 Republican senators, and the bill needs 50 “yes” votes to move through Senate.
      Republican senators, many of whom are still undecided on whether to vote for the bill later this week, struggled to defend the legislation.
      Murkowski, a key player in deciding the fate of health care, argued senators should have time to look over the CBO numbers.
      “I don’t think it’s asking too much to say give us the time to fairly and critically analyze these numbers,” Murkowski told Bash. “And if you say, well, CBO numbers don’t matter, let’s look at the numbers that you don’t think matter. But it really does make a difference. And these numbers that we’re talking about, these are men and women, these are our families that are being impacted. So let’s please get it right.”

      Read more:

      Pharmacist linked to fungal meningitis outbreak gets 9 years in prison

      (CNN)Pharmacist Barry Cadden was sentenced to nine years in prison Monday after his facility caused at least 76 deaths in a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak.

      The US Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts said Cadden authorized the shipping of drugs that weren’t confirmed to be sterile and used expired ingredients. It added that Cadden’s facility did not comply with cleaning, sterilization and other safety regulations — and that many who worked there, from its owners to pharmacists, actively lied about it.
      More than 700 people in 20 states were diagnosed with fungal meningitis and other infections after receiving contaminated medication from Cadden’s facility in 2012. The outbreak was the largest public health crisis caused by a pharmaceutical product, according to a statement from acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb.
        In a filing on June 22, the prosecution placed the number of deaths caused by Cadden at 76, making it the deadliest meningitis outbreak in US history. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had officially announced 64 deaths, but “they stopped counting a year after the outbreak,” said Christina Sterling, acting US Attorney spokeswoman.
        The deaths were allegedly caused by contaminated vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate, a steroid manufactured by the compounding pharmacy.
        Though Cadden was acquitted of 25 counts of second-degree murder after a 10-week trial, federal prosecutors asked the judge for a 35-year sentence for his other convictions; his attorney recommended three years.

        See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

        “Today, Barry Cadden was held responsible for one of the worst public health crises in this country’s history, and the lives of those impacted because of his greed will never be the same,” said Harold H. Shaw, FBI special agent in charge, Boston Field Division, in a statement. “This deadly outbreak was truly a life-changing event for hundreds of victims, and the FBI is grateful to have played a role, alongside our law enforcement partners, in bringing this man to justice.”
        Judge Richard Stearns sentenced the pharmacist to nine years behind bars and three years of supervised release.
        “The only thing I would say is our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the outbreak at this time, and I have nothing more to say,” Cadden’s attorney Bruce Singal told CNN.

        Read more:

        Church leaders in power-sharing plea to NI politicians – BBC News

        Image copyright Reuters
        Image caption Northern Ireland has been without a power-sharing executive since March

        Church leaders have urged Northern Ireland’s politicians that “the most vulnerable are at greater risk” if they cannot strike a power-sharing deal.

        The parties have until 29 June to reach agreement.

        The deadline was set by Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

        Talks aimed at restoring the Northern Ireland Executive are due to take place at Stormont on Monday.

        The parties have been warned that if they cannot reach agreement, direct rule could follow.

        The appeal is made in a letter signed by Church of Ireland Primate Richard Clarke, the Catholic Primate of All-Ireland Eamon Martin, Laurence Graham, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Bishop John McDowell, President of the Irish Council of Churches and Noble McNeely, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

        The letter was sent to DUP leader Arlene Foster, Sinn Fin’s leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Ulster Unionist Robin Swann, as well as Mr Brokenshire and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

        The church leaders said they pray and hope that all political leaders will do what is necessary to end uncertainty.

        ‘Continued concern’

        They encourage all the political leaders involved in the talks to “go the extra mile” to reach an accommodation “which establishes a sustainable administration that will work for the common good of all in our society”.

        “While we acknowledge the complexities involved in reaching an agreement, we want to express our continued concern that without an agreed budget and with no executive ministers in place, the most vulnerable are at greater risk, while crucial decisions on education, health and welfare are not being taken,” they wrote.

        “At the same time, I am sure you are aware that small voluntary and community groups – who play such a vital role at the heart of our villages, towns and cities – face mounting uncertainty and are finding it increasingly difficult to support those most in need.

        “Furthermore, with no executive there has been comparatively little co-ordinated local input into the Brexit discussions and even less detailed preparation for what lies ahead for Northern Ireland and the island as a whole.”

        Northern Ireland has been without a power-sharing executive since March and without a first and deputy first minister since January.

        The institutions collapsed amid a bitter row between the DUP and Sinn Fin about a botched green energy scheme.

        The late deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, stood down, in a move that triggered a snap election.

        Read more:

        People are trolling the Obamacare repeal hashtag #HellerVoteYes

        Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is a no on the Senate's healthcare bill.
        Image: Monsivais/AP/REX/Shutterstock

        Nevada Sen. Dean Heller became the first Republican on Friday to say he wouldn’t vote for the Senate’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act because of its cuts to healthcare benefits for low-income Americans.

        Naturally, a conservative, pro-Trump interest group is lobbying the senator to change his mind about the GOP effort to replace Obamacare. One of them promoted a trending hashtag on Twitter: “HellerVoteYes.”

        Well, since the Republicans’ bill would eliminate most health services provided to the poor through Medicaid and raise costs for millions of Americans, people quickly seized on the hashtag to lobby Heller in the other directionand criticize Twitter for promoting the pro-repeal hashtag in the first place.

        Four other Republicans are set to vote no on the bill, but only because they don’t think it goes far enough. Maybe #HellerVoteNo will start trending too.

        Read more:

        The teenagers growing up with cancer – BBC News

        Every day in the UK seven teenagers find out they have cancer. At the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, the Teenage Cancer Trust has set up a specially-designed “teen-only” unit.

        The unit brings together young people from all over Scotland who are dealing with cancer, so they don’t have to face it alone.

        Natasha – aged 15

        Natasha has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, and comes to the unit five times a week for chemotherapy.

        She told BBC documentary Growing Up With Cancer: “When someone says to you the word ‘cancer’, you just go blank.”

        “It started sinking in when my hair started falling out. That’s when it properly sunk in.”

        For Natasha, and for all patients undergoing chemotherapy, going bald changes the way they see themselves and how other people view them.

        She says: “It is so confusing because I miss the old self.

        “Before I thought I’m never going to walk out bald, I’ll always have my wigs on every time I walk out of the house.

        “But now I don’t care if people are looking at me because it’s not their life.”

        She says the wigs are hot and heavy and sometimes hurt her ears and give her a sore head.

        Image caption Natasha says she tries to have “positive thoughts”

        But she says “positive thinking” gets her through.

        “It’s hard with something like this at the beginning when you get told but when you get into it there’s nothing else you can do,” she says.

        “You’ve got it, deal with it – and that’s it.”

        The 15-year-old says she wants to be a lawyer one day.

        She says: “After this I’d never take health for granted.

        “When I get married and have kids that’ll be my main priority – my health, because anything could happen at any point.

        “I’ll just focus on my health and my education now, that’s it.”

        Nairn – aged 14

        Image caption Nairn was worried about losing his hair

        Nairn, who is 14, says: “I started getting unwell about January time. I thought it was a chest infection.

        “Then I started to get a bit sicker, coughing and things like that. It was bringing my mood down. I lost a lot of energy and I just felt horrible.

        “I was going straight home to my bed. I was crying a lot, the emotions were building up in me so much I didn’t know what to think.”

        He allowed the cameras to film him and his parents as he got his diagnosis from consultant haematologist Dr Nick Heaney.

        He faces treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the same cancer as Natasha.

        When he gets his diagnosis, he is worried about falling behind with his school work and he is also concerned about the affect on his family.

        Nairn says: “I don’t want my mum and dad to be worried and I wouldn’t want anyone else to be.

        “The smile on my face helps them to cope I feel.

        “Obviously as a teenager you’re going to get grumpy so I’ve tried to maintain a good behaviour with them and it has kind of worked but it’s difficult.

        “Sometimes I want to be a bit grumpy but I need to keep that smile on because I know it is helping them through it.”

        And as he tries to stay positive he says he does not like other people saying “I’m so sorry”.

        “It just brings down the mood,” he says. “I’d much rather everyone acts as normal.”

        Nairn says the treatment is “tough, tiring and simply quite boring”.

        He says: “I just wish I could wake up and it was just a dream but it’s not and I have to deal with it.”

        As his chemo progresses his skin breaks out and he suffers mouth ulcers and cracked lips.

        And, like Natasha, losing his hair is a major moment.

        Nairn tells Natasha he loves his hair and would spend ages getting it just right.

        She is three months ahead of him in her chemo treatment and offers support, telling him to “embrace” the baldness.

        Nairn says: “Natasha was really supportive and I think it was really helpful talking to her about what kind of symptoms she had.

        “I think she helped me embrace what was wrong with me a bit more.

        “I think I’m just going to continue life as it was before and I hope everyone can do the same.”

        Declan – aged 14

        Image caption Declan was back in hospital after a relapse

        Declan was in the unit for a stem cell transplant after a relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, an aggressive form of cancer.

        For the first month or more he was placed in isolation while his immune system was shut down in preparation.

        He said: “I started my treatment almost two years ago and I was doing fine. I was on a maintenance part of treatment but then I relapsed.

        “They took me for a bone marrow and they found out the chemo hadn’t worked, which was horrible news.

        “I was just transitioning from child to teenager. I had to grow up pretty fast.”

        After seven weeks in isolation, Declan’s stem cell transplant is working and he’s back in the teenage ward.

        He says the thought of going home got him through it.

        “The thought of going home and being normal again.”

        Growing up with cancer is on BBC One on Monday 26 June at 19:30.

        Read more:

        Man Cited For Driving Motorcycle Through Crowd Of Trumpcare Protestors

        A man was detained by police Wednesday after allegedly driving his motorcycle through a crowd blocking a San Francisco street in protest of the recently-revealed GOP healthcare bill, also known as Trumpcare.

        Around 20 protestors, including seniors and people with disabilities, were staging a die-in by lying on the street outside of the San Francisco Federal Building on Wednesday afternoon, CBS San Francisco reported. The man rode his motorcycle down the wrong way on Seventh Street, through the crowd, then turned and drove through the crowd again, activist Emily Lee told KRON4.

        As seen in the video above, the man, identified by local media as Jeffrey Dillon, revved his engine as he drove through the activists who quickly jumped out of his way. He appeared to get very close to some individuals, but no one was injured in the incident.

        San Francisco police surrounded Dillon with their guns drawn, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, before citing himfor reckless driving and releasing him.

        At some point, it became clear he was going to come through the crowd and people jumped out of the way, said Lee, a spokeswoman for Bay Resistance, one of the organizations that planned the protest.

        He was definitely targeting us, she added.It was unclear if it was for political reasons or if he was just mentally unstable or what, but it was terrifying.

        According to multiple reports, Dillon was the administrator of a Facebook group named White Privilege Club, where he reportedly posted pictures of himself with the motorcycle.

        This isnt a racist site/group, it is the exact opposite. It is a celebration of our culture and who we are I am proud of who I am and my people,Dillon wrote to the groupbefore the page was deleted on Thursday night, according to Asian-American news blog Next Shark.

        Yell White Pride and people look at you like ive [sic] got a clan outfit on, another post by Dillon read. I married a slant eye import, so you know i aint [sic] racist.

        Bruce Allison, a protestor who dodged Dillons motorcycle, told the Chronicle that Dillon had yelled during the incident, If you want to go to the hospital, here you go, and You will have health care if you people stop protesting.

        Read more:

        ObamaCare Battle: Pro-Trump group previewing attack ads on GOP Senator Heller

        The pro-Trump super PAC that vowed an ad campaign against Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller within hours of him on Friday opposing the GOPs ObamaCare overhaul bill previewed its attack Saturday on social media.

        Why did @SenDeanHeller lie to voters about #RepealAndReplace? Hes now with @NancyPelosi. NOT GOOD! #HellerVotesYes, tweeted America First Policies, run by former President Trump and Vice President Pence campaign staffers.

        The group has bought $1 million worth of traditional ads (typically TV and radio) and is expected to start running them next week in Nevada, in addition to a digital ad campaign.

        Heller is one of five GOP senators opposing the bill. The chamber has 52 GOP senators. Leaders of the GOP-controlled chamber need 51 votes to pass their ObamaCare bill. That means a maximum of two can defect, and that would require Pence to cast the deciding vote in what would be a 50-50 tie with Senate Democrats.  

        Heller is up for re-election in 2018 and is considered one of the most vulnerable GOP senators.  

        “Obamacare is collapsing. This is a crisis for the American people. There is no excuse for any Republican or Democrat to oppose the Senate health care bill outright,” group President Brian Walsh said Friday. “Senator Heller … appears to be heading down a path with Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the radical left.” 

        The other GOP senators who oppose the bill are Sens. Ted Cruz, Texas; Ron Johnson, Wisconsin; Mike Lee, Utah; and Rand Paul, Kentucky.

        Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., released the bill Thursday, which awaits a financial analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and a floor vote by as early as next week.

        This bill currently in front of the United States Senate is not the answer. Heller said Friday. In this form, I will not support it.

        Read more: