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House sets risky health care vote after Trump demands it

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:51:41 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a gamble with monumental political stakes, Republicans set course for a climactic House vote on their health care overhaul after President Donald Trump claimed he was finished negotiating with GOP holdouts and determined to pursue the rest of his agenda, win or lose. [...] they seemed to be calculating that at crunch time, enough dissidents would decide against sabotaging the bill, Trump's young presidency and the House GOP leadership's ability to set the agenda, with a single, crushing defeat. The GOP bill eliminates the Obama statute's unpopular fines on those who do not obtain coverage and the often generous subsidies for those who purchase insurance. In a bid to coax support from conservatives, House leaders proposed a fresh amendment — to be voted on Friday — repealing Obama's requirement that insurers cover 10 specified services like maternity and mental health care. Medical associations, consumer groups and hospitals are opposed or voicing misgivings, and some Republican governors say the bill cuts Medicaid too deeply and would leave many low-income people uncovered. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said changes Republican leaders had proposed before Thursday to win votes had cut the legislation's deficit reduction by more than half, to $150 billion over the next decade. Obama's law increased coverage through subsidized private insurance for people who don't have access to workplace plans, and a state option to expand Medicaid for low-income residents.



White House, in gamble, demands make-or-break health vote

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 03:12:15 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abandoning negotiations, President Donald Trump demanded a make-or-break vote on health care legislation in the House, threatening to leave "Obamacare" in place and move on to other issues if Friday's vote fails. The risky move, part gamble and part threat, was presented to GOP lawmakers behind closed doors Thursday night after a long and intense day that saw a planned vote on the health care bill scrapped as the legislation remained short of votes amid cascading negotiations among conservative lawmakers, moderates and others. "For seven and a half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it's collapsing and it's failing families, and tomorrow we're proceeding," House Speaker Paul Ryan said, then walked off without answering as reporters demanded to know whether the bill had the votes to pass. The Republican legislation would halt Obama's tax penalties against people who don't buy coverage and cut the federal-state Medicaid program for low earners, which the Obama statute had expanded. In a concession to the conservative House Freedom Caucus, many of whose members have withheld support, the legislation would repeal requirements for insurers to cover "essential health benefits" such as maternity care and substance abuse treatment. [...] medical professionals, doctors and hospitals — major employers in some districts — as well as the AARP and other influential consumer groups were nearly unanimously opposed. Moderates were given pause by projections of 24 million Americans losing coverage in a decade and higher out-of-pocket costs for many low-income and older people, as predicted by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.




Last-minutes changes to the GOP health care bill

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 01:23:20 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican leaders have proposed last-minute changes to the health care bill, which they've offered in hopes of winning over wavering lawmakers. —The earlier version of the GOP bill abolished an additional 0.9 percent tax Obama's law imposed on higher-income Americans to help pay for Medicare.



The Latest: White House tells House GOP, 'Let's vote'

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:01:14 UT

Republicans emerging from the closed-door meeting Thursday said they will vote Friday afternoon even though leadership is still trying to secure the votes. An official with the Congressional Leadership Fund says the political action committee backed by Ryan is withdrawing staff support from Rep. David Young. Congress' nonpartisan budget analysts say changes Republican leaders have proposed in their health care bill to win House votes have cut the measure's deficit reduction by more than half. The deficit reduction figures dropped mostly because the updated measure has additional tax breaks and makes Medicaid benefits more generous for some older and disabled people. House Republican leaders have postponed a vote on their health care bill in a setback for President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan. Prospects for the Republicans' showcase health care bill had looked grimmer by the minute Thursday despite Trump's personal lobbying of conservatives. White House press secretary Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump's meeting with the House Freedom Caucus was a "positive step" toward achieving the GOP's goal of driving down costs and increasing access to health care. The chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus says there's "no deal" on the GOP health care legislation after a meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump. Former President Barack Obama is celebrating the seventh anniversary of his landmark health care law, saying in a statement on Thursday that "America is stronger because of the Affordable Care Act." [...] Obama says, "we should start from the baseline that any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans." The GOP legislation was on the brink hours before Republican leaders planned to put it on the House floor for a showdown vote. The GOP's long-promised legislation to repeal and replace "Obamacare" stands on the brink, just hours be



Kentucky's abortion law faces attacks in court

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 22:31:50 UT

(AP) — Kentucky's new law requiring doctors to conduct an ultrasound exam before an abortion, and then try to show fetal images to the pregnant women, came under withering attack Thursday in federal court. An American Civil Liberties Union attorney referred to the 2-month-old law championed by Republican lawmakers as a "gross deviation" from medical ethics, bidding to block its enforcement. Steve Pitt, an attorney representing Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the law reflects the state's legitimate interests to protect the well-being of pregnant women and their fetuses. The procedure also seeks to detect the fetal heartbeat, but women can ask that the volume of the heartbeat be reduced or turned off. Besides Kentucky, three other states have laws requiring pre-abortion ultrasounds and a doctor then showing the women the image and describing it, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.



UN aims to immunize more than 115 million kids against polio

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:32:24 UT

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization says it's aiming to vaccinate more than 115 million children against polio across Africa next week, in its continuing bid to wipe out the crippling disease. Eradicating polio requires reaching more than 90 percent of vulnerable children and rigorous surveillance, tasks that have proven nearly impossible in war-torn areas.



Egypt suspends school lunches after mass food poisoning

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:46:14 UT

CAIRO (AP) — An outbreak of food poisoning has sickened thousands of Egyptian schoolchildren this month, figures showed Thursday, sending parents rushing to hospitals and leading the Education Ministry to temporarily suspend its school lunch program. Egypt saw 4,650 suspected food poisoning cases in schools nationwide in March alone, the Cabinet said in a statement carried by state-run news agency MENA, compared to some 300 cases previously reported since the beginning of the academic year in September.