Senators Deal to Save Obamacare Subsidies
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Senators Deal to Save Obamacare Subsidies

But Congress and the White House Send Mixed Signals on Support

Affordable Care Act inaction. Yet another last-ditch effort to tackle the nation’s health-care system stalled within hours of its release Tuesday, with President Trump sending mixed signals and Republicans either declining to endorse the proposal or outright opposing it. The proposal would extend payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act that Trump said he is ending. It was put together by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Their deal would restore $106 million in outreach funding that was cut by Trump and give states more flexibility to change rules with waivers. It also would allow people to buy cheaper plans with fewer benefits.

Billionaire (mostly) boys club. Trump’s riches are now only a mere $3.1 billion, according to Forbes. He dropped from #156 on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans last year to #248.

The magazine said Trump’s fortune fell by $600 million because of a tough New York real estate market, a lawsuit and the presidential campaign. Trump, who frequently claims his net worth is $10 billion, reached a $25 million settlement in a lawsuit over claims that students were defrauded in Trump University real estate seminars.

Among those with the greatest stakes in  Republican plans to repeal estate taxes, there are seven Wal-Mart Waltons on the list with a combined wealth of $145 billion. According to Forbes, there are 14 billionaires whose wealth comes from the Cargill agribusiness giant. Six Mars candy heirs make the list along with eight Pritzkers (Hyatt hotels).

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross dropped off the Forbes list this year. Forbes reported that Ross transferred more than $2 billion in assets into trusts for family members between Trump’s election and his inauguration. Forbes estimated his net worth to be about $700 million. 

Some other political notables on the list: Right-wing sugar daddies Charles and David Koch (tied at No. 6 with $48.5 billion each), former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (No. 8 with $46.8 billion), liberal funder George Soros (No. 20) and Richard DeVos (father-in-law of Education Sec. Betsy DeVos at No. 107).

Drug czar dropout. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) is withdrawing from being considered for the job as the nation’s drug czar after an investigative report detailing how he helped pass legislation weakening the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to go after drug distributors. The bill passed last year with no opposition. A joint Washington Post/60 Minutes investigation explained how lobbying helped pass the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act. The law makes it harder for the DEA to act against giant drug distributors. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) plans to introduce a measure to repeal the law.

Travel ban partially reinstated. A federal judge in Hawaii partially blocked Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban. Judge Derrick K. Watson issued a temporary restraining order that will keep the ban from being enforced in six of the eight countries. The ban was scheduled to go into effect Wednesday. The Department of Justice plans to appeal. The revised ban targets Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, Venezuela and North Korea. Hawaii didn’t challenge the ban on Venezuela and North Korea so that part of the ban will go into effect.

Underused hospital ship. Only 33 of the 250 beds on the Navy’s USNA Comfort hospital ship near Puerto Rico are being used. The process laid out by FEMA for admitting patients to the ship doesn’t seem clear to local health-care providers. Puerto Rico’s Department of Health has to decide which patients can get care on the ship, and referrals have been few.


October 18, 2017