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Trump threatens to end insurance payments ‘very soon’ in Twitter rant

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President Donald Trump threatened on Saturday to end government payments to health insurers if Congress does not pass a healthcare bill.

In a Twitter message on Saturday, Trump said “if a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

Trump’s comment came after Senate Republicans failed to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare bill, on Friday.

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The first part of Trump’s tweet appeared to be referring to the approximately $8 billion in cost-sharing reduction subsidies paid by the federal government to insurers to lower the price of health coverage for low-income individuals.

The second part of the tweet appeared to be a threat to end the employer contribution for members of Congress and their staffs who were moved from the normal federal employee healthcare benefits program onto the Obamacare insurance exchanges as part of the 2010 healthcare law.

The Obama administration had ruled that these contributions could continue, flowing through the District of Columbia insurance exchange.

Many insurers have been waiting for an answer from Trump or lawmakers on whether they will continue to fund the annual government subsidies. Without assurances, many insurers plan to raise rates an additional 20 percent by an Aug. 16 deadline for premium prices.

With Republican efforts to dismantle Obamacare in disarray, hundreds of U.S. counties are at risk of losing access to private health coverage in 2018 as insurers consider pulling out of those markets.

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In response, Trump on Friday again suggested that his administration would let the Obamacare program “implode.” He has weakened enforcement of the law’s requirement for individuals to buy insurance, threatened to cut off funding and sought to change plan benefits through regulations.

Meanwhile, some congressional Republicans were still trying to find a way forward on healthcare reform.

Senator Lindsey Graham said in a statement issued late on Friday that he and two other Republican senators, Dean Heller and Bill Cassidy, met with Trump after the defeat to discuss Graham’s proposal to take tax money raised by Obamacare and send it back to the states in the form of healthcare block grants.

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Graham said the move would end Democrats’ drive for a national single-payer healthcare system by putting states in charge.

“President Trump was optimistic about the Graham-Cassidy-Heller proposal,” Graham added. “I will continue to work with President Trump and his team to move the idea forward.”

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(Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)


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2020 Election

Trump and the GOP have become the party of the dead

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There are few morbid topics subject to greater speculation than the religious loyalty of President Donald Trump's "base." Why an alarmingly large amount of Americans refuse even to entertain any criticism of Trump deserves scrutiny from political scientists, psychologists and perhaps horror novelists working in the school of Edgar Allan Poe.

This article first appeared in Salon.

What is abundantly clear is that no matter who votes for Trump, he and the Republican Party on the national level have no interest in governing on the behalf of living human beings — with the exception of ensuring that a tiny minority of billionaires and multimillionaires enlarge their investment portfolios. Trump evinces no concern for Americans dying of the coronavirus, racist violence or any other malady or injustice. He demonstrates no regard for health care professionals courageously trying to save their patients from dying, and appears cruelly indifferent to the struggles of millions of workers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by COVID-19. Needless to say, Trump also shows contempt for Black Lives Matter, immigrants and anyone who opposes his re-election, which at this moment (and throughout his presidency) is more than half of the American public.

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As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode

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As Florida experiences a surge in coronavirus cases, the residents of the state are facing obstacles like overwhelmed hospitals and a looming shortage in beds.

This article first appeared in Salon.

There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)

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2020 Election

The GOP is a suicide cult

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Back in March, we argued that Donald Trump had become the charismatic leader of the dumbest suicide cult ever. There were fewer than 500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the time, but it wasn't difficult to see the trajectory we were on at even that early date. At the time, we were commenting on the President's* repeated claims that the whole thing was a big hoax and polls showing that Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans to say they were taking steps to avoid becoming infected.

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