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In response to the Trump administration's plea to the Supreme Court to kill the Affordable Care Act, in the midst of a pandemic with no end in sight, the House of Representatives passed legislation expanding the law on Monday, the first significant expansion in the decade the law has been in effect. It will not, of course, become law because Mitch McConnell won't bring it to the floor and the White House has already promised a veto.

The bill would expand subsidies for people purchasing insurance through the ACA marketplaces, so that more people could qualify for coverage. It would put a financial squees on the last hold-out states that have refused the Medicaid expansion by reducing the traditional Medicaid payments they're receiving, but would also incentivize expansion by paying for the entire initial cost of the expansion. It would also allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, and end the Trump administration's expansion of short-term insurance plans, junk insurance, that don't have to meet all the demands of the ACA's protections and benefits. For example, the plans allowed under Trump's short-term plan expansion don't have to provide coverage for preexisting medical conditions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke about the importance of the law and her expansion of it Monday. "As lives are shattered by the coronavirus, the protections of the Affordable Care Act are more important now, more than ever," she said.  Noting that both Trump and congressional Republicans keep saying that they intend their as-of-yet totally absent replacement plan for the ACA to cover people with preexisting medical conditions, she said: "Oh really? Then why are you in the United States Supreme Court to overturn them?" She has a point.

This legislation would fix one of the biggest problems for people with higher incomes attempting to buy insurance the marketplace, the subsidy cliff that puts plans out of reach. It eliminates the existing income ceiling for subsidies, currently 400% of the federal poverty level, or about $51,000 annually for individuals and $105,000 for a family of four. Instead of that cap, the legislation stipulates that no one purchasing on the exchanges would have to pay more than 8.5% of their income to get a plan in the most popular tier. It expands Medicaid, as well, giving new mothers a full year of Medicaid coverage after they've given birth.

In Trump's veto statement, the White House said that the bill "attempts to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to resuscitate tired, partisan proposals." It also said that it would hamper development of new drugs in a way that is "imprudent given the current focus on developing vaccines and therapeutics rapidly to help America and the world combat the coronavirus." That exposes the real concern here: profits to the drug and health insurance industries.

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McConnell urges Trump to reconsider threat to veto bipartisan bill that would rename military bases 

Alex Henderson July 2, 2020 6:43PM (UTC)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

In an obvious rally-the-base move, President Donald Trump is threatening to veto a bipartisan defense policy bill that would rename military bases that are presently named after Confederate generals. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to The Hill's Alexander Bolton, is among the Republicans who is imploring Trump to reconsider.

The recent "Justice for George Floyd" protests have accelerated the movement to rename institutions, from high schools to military bases, that were named after pro-slavery generals who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War — such as Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Stonewall Jackson. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is among the Democrats who has asserted that men who fought to uphold slavery should not be honored in 2020; it was Warren who sponsored the provision in the $740.5 billion bill that calls for renaming military installations if they are presently named after Confederate generals.


The bill is a rare example of Warren and McConnell agreeing on anything. And McConnell obviously believes that being perceived as pro-Confederacy is not the type of publicity Republicans need during an election year — especially with the conversation on racism that Floyd's death has inspired.

The Senate majority leader told Fox News, "I would hope the president really wouldn't veto the bill over this issue. I hope the president will reconsider vetoing the entire defense bill, which includes pay raises for our troops, over a provision in there that could lead to changing the names."

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas is worried about having a racially charged debate as well. The Hill quotes Roberts as saying of the issue, "We are now in an era of live grenades lying around. Nobody wants to jump on them."


Another GOP senator, Oklahoma's James Inhofe, seems to be taking some comfort in knowing that the bill probably wouldn't reach Trump's desk until sometime in November after the presidential election. Inhofe, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, is quoted by The Hill as saying, "It will probably be November by the time it would be coming to his desk anyway. A lot can happen between now and then."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is vehemently critical of Trump for threatening to veto the bill.

"I dare President Trump to veto the bill over Confederate base naming," the New York Democrat asserted. "It's in the bill, it has bipartisan support, it will stay in the bill."

Alex Henderson

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