Sen. Susan Collins Comes Out Against Health Care Bill

Sen.Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Monday she would vote against a motion to proceed on the Senates controversial health care bill, despite urging from fellow Republicans to pass the legislation as soon as this week.

In a series of tweets, Collins cited a Congressional Budget Office report released Monday that found the new bill would cause 22 million people to lose their insurance over the next 10 years. The Senates bill would also dramatically undercut federal funding for Medicaid and financial assistance for low- and middle-income people, all facts Collins said wouldnt fix ACA problems for rural Maine, referring to the Obama administrations Affordable Care Act.

The announcement is a significant blow to Senate Republicans, particularly Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has scrambled to garner support for the bill, which could come up for a vote as early as Thursday if the motion to proceed passes in the next day or two.

Collins is one of several senators who initially expressed skepticism about the hastily drawn legislation, which was crafted largely behind closed doors by Republican leaders. Last week, she told MSNBCs Chuck Todd shecould not support a bill that is going to result in tens of millions of people losing their health insurance.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) last week also announced he would not support the bill in its current form.

Those concerns have been echoed by several of their colleagues, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also expressed significant concern following the release of the CBO analysis. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told reporters he would vote noon the motion unless the legislation becomes more conservative. Last week he called for a plan that ismore like a repeal and less like keeping Obamacare.

Every Senate Democrat has declared opposition to the legislation, and the bill will not pass if three Republican senators oppose it. The House has passed its version of a health care bill, called the American Health Care Act.

The Senates bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, was unveiled by GOP leadership Thursday, drawing immediate dissent from a swath of health care and patient groups, including the American Medical Association and AARP.

Medicine has long operated under the precept of primum non nocere, or first, do no harm. The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels, AMA CEO James Madara wrote in a letter to McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday. We believe that Congress should be working to increase the number of Americans with access to quality, affordable health insurance instead of pursuing policies that have the opposite effect.

CLARIFICATION: This post has been updated to better reflect that Sen. Collins will vote against a motion to proceed on the bill, which would put it before the Senate for consideration.

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Saudi student now US fugitive after skipping on bail posted by government

A young Saudi national facing charges stemming from a fatal hit-and-run incident in Oregon in 2016 removed a court’s monitoring device last week and fled. 

Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, 21, was arrested last August and indicted for first-degree manslaughter, hit-and-run, reckless endangerment and reckless driving after allegedly killing 15-year-old Fallon Smart in Portland.

However, on Sept. 11, 2016 what would have marked Fallons 16th birthday Noorah’s $100,000 bond was posted by the consulate of Saudi Arabia, according to court records. Earlier this month, police say Noorah removed his monitoring device bracelet and his current whereabouts are now unknown.

He is depicted as being Saudi Arabian, 150 pounds and 6 feet tall and was last seen near the Southeast 106th Avenue and Division of Portland. Investigators are said to be concerned that Noorah poses mental health issues and are offering a reward for information leading to his whereabouts.

Noorah, a Saudi national who had been in Oregon since 2014 and enrolled at Portland Community College, was awaiting trial on charges that he struck and killed the young teenage girl while speeding down Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, before running and later returning to the scene. Her relatives have called the latest development in the case as having broken (their) hearts again.

Shane Smart, Fallon’s uncle, expressed his anger in a Facebook post.

“From Day 1, our family objected to a bail because of things known about Abdulrahman Noorah that made us believe he was a flight risk,” Shane Smart wrote on Facebook. “The deputy district attorney representing the state’s case against Abdulrahman Noorah expressed our objection of allowing a bail and house arrest to the presiding Judge.”



Local reports also unveiled last week that Noorah was already considered to be a high flight risk, but authorities had no power to prevent him from fleeing due to Oregon bail legislation and the entanglement of a foreign government.

The Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles, which reportedly paid the bail and hired two prominent criminal defense lawyers to represent him, has yet to comment on the matter.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has on several occasions made bail for its nationals including for a man accused of rape in Utah in 2015, who also fled and was subsequently convicted, and for a Missouri resident in 2013 who was accused but later acquitted of murdering a bar owner. That same year the government put up the $5 million bail for a Saudi princess charged with human trafficking in California, yet those charges, too, were let go.

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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.

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Hillary Clinton: GOP is ‘death party’ if health care bill passes

Washington (CNN)Hillary Clinton has a new name for the Republican Party if Congress manages to pass the Senate health care bill: “death party.”

The Democratic presidential nominee’s Twitter account shared a study Friday afternoon from a progressive think tank, the Center for American Progress, predicting that the Senate bill could lead to between 18,000 and 27,000 additional deaths in 2026 if those people have no coverage.
“Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party,” she tweeted.
    “Death panels” is a reference to a line of attack that that was used by some Republicans amid debate on the Affordable Care Act in 2009, suggesting that Obamacare would have the government determine whether elderly people or people with special needs “deserve” care.
    The discussion surrounded a provision that would have used Medicare funds to pay for doctors to discuss end-of-life options with patients — but that proposal did not end up becoming part of the ACA.
    This is Clinton’s fourth tweet about health care since the Senate bill was released Thursday morning. She encouraged people to call their senators about “Trumpcare,” and she retweeted a former adviser to her campaign who shared a graphic showing possible effects of proposed Medicaid cuts on children.
    Earlier Friday, her Twitter account shared a Facebook post from former President Barack Obama denouncing the bill.
    So far, Republicans in the Senate have expressed some reservations with the bill, and most of them are still reviewng the text, according to CNN’s whip count.
    But several have pointed out that the Republican bill improves on Obamacare, which they say was a large-government approach to health care that does not deliver the benefits it promised for patients.
    Sen. David Perdue of Georgia said: “After reviewing the initial working draft, I believe it includes many substantial fixes to our broken health care system…Obviously, this will not be the final bill, but I’m hopeful that we can resolve the remaining disagreements and deliver a consensus bill that is a vast improvement over Obamacare.”
    Former Vice President Joe Biden also tweeted criticism of the Senate measure.
    “The Senate health bill isn’t about health care at all — it’s a wealth transfer: slashes care to fund tax cuts for the wealthy & corporations.”
    His tweet echoed Obama’s message the day before: “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill,” Obama’s Facebook post read. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.”

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    Obama on Senate bill: It’s ‘not a health care bill’

    Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama on Thursday spoke out against a proposed GOP Senate bill that dismantles the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

    “I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party,” Obama wrote in a Facebook post. “Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.”
    The GOP-proposed bill would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, drastically cut back federal support of Medicaid, and eliminate Obamacare’s taxes on the wealthy, insurers and others.
      Senators are likely to have only a handful of days to decide whether to support or vote against the 142-page bill, which was unveiled on Thursday.
      In his statement, Obama said the Senate bill is “not a health care bill.”
      “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America,” he wrote. “It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.”
      The former President argued that he fought for the ACA “for more than a year” alongside “thousands upon thousands of Americans” because “we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.”
      He ended his Facebook post encouraging the public to call members of Congress, visit their offices, speak out and “let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.”
      “After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics,” he wrote. “It’s about the character of our country — who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.”
      The Senate bill is similar to the version of the House measure that passed last month. Trump has since called it “mean,” despite celebrating it at the Rose Garden with House Republicans.
      Democrats have blasted the Senate bill, with some calling it “meaner.”
      Four conservative Republican senators — Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee — said they opposed the current version. And key votes such as Sens. Dean Heller and Susan Collins have also withheld support.

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      Donald Trump says he doesn’t want a ‘poor person’ in cabinet roles

      President tells crowd during Iowa tour that economic adviser and commerce secretary had to give up a lot to work for him

      Donald Trump has said he doesnt want a poor person to hold economic roles in his administration as he used an Iowa rally to defend his decision to appoint the wealthy to his cabinet.

      The US president told a crowd on Wednesday night: Somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? No its true. And Wilburs [commerce secretary Wilbur Ross] a very rich person in charge of commerce. I said: Because thats the kind of thinking we want.

      The president explained that Ross and his economic adviser Gary Cohn had to give up a lot to take these jobs and that Cohn in particular, a former president of Goldman Sachs, went from massive pay days to peanuts.

      Trump added: And I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just dont want a poor person. Does that make sense?

      He made the comments as he toured the state with agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue and Ross partly to celebrate a Republican congressional victory in Georgia being seen as an early referendum on his presidency.

      Trump touched down Wednesday evening in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and headed to a local community college and then to a campaign rally where he reveled in Karen Handels victory.

      Were 5-0 in special elections, said Trump in front of a boisterous crowd that packed a downtown arena. The truth is, people love us … they havent figured it out yet.

      Supporters at a Donald Trump in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

      He also applauded Republican Ralph Norman, who notched a slimmer-than-expected win in a special election to fill the South Carolina congressional seat vacated by Mick Mulvaney, and mocked Handels challenger, Jon Ossoff, saying the Democrats spent $30m on this kid who forgot to live in the district.

      Trump, no stranger to victory laps, turned his visit to a battleground state he captured in November into a celebration of his resilience despite the cloud of investigations that has enveloped his administration and sent his poll numbers tumbling.

      With the appearance in Cedar Rapids, he will have held five rallies in the first five months in office.

      The event underscores Trumps comfort in a campaign setting. He laughed off the occasional heckler, repeated riffs from last year and appeared far more at ease when going after Democrats in front of adoring crowds than trying to push through his own legislative agenda from the confines of the White House.

      Trumps aides are making a renewed push to get the president out of Washington. The capital is consumed with the investigation into Russian meddling in last years election and Trumps firing of his FBI director, James Comey.

      Iowa, with its large share of independent voters, could be a proving ground for whether Trump can count on the support of voters beyond his base. Unaffiliated voters, or no party voters as they are known in Iowa, make up 36% of the electorate, compared with 33% who registered as Republican and 31% registered as Democrat.

      Self-identified independents in Iowa voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton by a margin of 13 percentage points last year, according to exit polls conducted for the Associated Press and television networks. That margin helped Trump take the state by nearly nine points after Barack Obama won it the previous two elections.

      Trump held a Des Moines rally in December as part of his transition-era thank you tour of states he had won, but has not been back to Iowa since.

      At the rally, he touted his administrations efforts to roll back regulations, mused about putting solar panels on a Mexican border wall, derided wind power for killing birds in a state that uses a lot of it and revealed that he urged the Senate to create a health care plan with heart. Add some money to it!

      He avoided any discussion of the scandals surrounding his presidency, other than one brief reference to the witch hunt, his term for the inquiries into his campaigns ties to Russia.

      Associated Press contributed to this report

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      Conservatives on Capitol Hill anxiously await health care bill

      Washington (CNN)Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might be on the verge of releasing a bill to repeal Obamacare, but he’s got conservatives to convince before he can be sure he has the votes to pass it.

      On Tuesday, McConnell announced there would be a “discussion draft” unveiled Thursday on health care, but some in the right flank of his conference are already voicing skepticism for what’s coming.
      “I think they’ve forgotten all the rallies where we said we’re going to repeal it. We had thousands of people standing up and cheering us on, saying we’re going to repeal it and now they’ve gotten pretty weak-kneed and I think they want to keep it,” Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, told reporters Tuesday. “Conservatives who are in the know are going to know that this isn’t repeal.”
        Most members haven’t seen legislative texts of the bill, but the process itself has been deeply frustrating for some of the conservatives who McConnell may need to convince to pass his bill.
        Tuesday afternoon Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah took to Facebook Live to tell constituents, “if you’re frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process, I share your frustration. I share it wholeheartedly.”
        “It’s not being written by us,” Lee said, noting he was a member of the so-called working group. “It’s apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership in the Senate.”
        On policy, Paul has raised problems with voting for anything that included robust tax credits to help people buy insurance. And conservatives both on and off the Hill warn that they won’t support any bill that doesn’t lower premiums. Conservatives believe that in order to do that, Senate Republicans need to repeal many of the Obamacare regulations including community rating, which bars insurers from charging people with pre-existing conditions more for their health care coverage. The problem is that Senate leaders have been clear with the conference that they prefer not to repeal the community rating provision.
        Sen. Ted Cruz, a conservative member of the Senate’s working group, said Tuesday — just days before a bill is expected to be released — that the Senate was “nowhere near resolving the issues that are needed.”
        “It depends what’s in the bill,” Cruz said when asked if he could support it. “There are many issues that are active topics of discussion. We are making steady progress, but we’re nowhere near resolving the issues that are needed. The most important issue is we have to drive down the cost of premiums. We have to make health insurance more affordable for families who are struggling. That is my number one priority.”
        Across Capitol Hill, House conservatives are also growing a bit nervous with the lack of clarity on what’s about to come out of the Senate.
        House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows told CNN Tuesday in a phone call that he continues to have discussions with senators, but that no one seems to know what’s about to be released.
        “I think there is a whole lot of ambiguity, which gives everyone some concern that there isn’t enough time to review,” Meadows said. “We have articulated some of the have-tos and nice to haves on multiple occasions with a variety of senators.”
        McConnell can only lose two Republican senators — any more than that and Senate leaders will fail to repeal Obamacare. That means McConnell can’t afford to lose all three of his most conservative members. And conservatives are just part of the problem.
        Moderates also have deep concerns about what McConnell is about to release. Senators from Medicaid expansion states senators have been especially vocal against reports that Senate leaders may change the growth rate of Medicaid to standard inflation after 2025. That would put a significantly larger burden on states to finance their Medicaid programs.

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        Michelle Obama’s Instagram post inspires us to get fit with our friends

        Michelle Obama inspires us all to stay healthy once again.
        Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

        Shoutout to former First Lady Michelle Obama for continuing to inspire us to keep up with our #HealthGoals.

        On Monday, Obama shared on Instagram that she frequently hosted workout bootcamps with her friends while she was in the White House. Even though she’s no longer living on Pennsylvania Avenue, she decided to continue the tradition.

        “Our bootcamp weekends were a reminder that if we want to keep taking care of others, we need to take care of ourselves first,” she wrote in the post.

        The real Squad Goal is finding friends who will wipe your tears away when that bootcamp becomes too real.

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        Taylor Swift’s Stalker Claims He Works For Katy Perry

        Well this is an… interesting… development.

        Mohammed Jaffar, the 29-year-old obsessed fan who is accused of stalking

        Court documents are coming out now from one of Jaffar’s arrests, and it turns out that

        Jaffar is accused of sneaking onto the roof of Swift’s $20 million penthouse in New York, and he allegedly called her management company at least 59 times, leaving her “messages about business deals.”

        Sounds more like a delusional, scarily-obsessed fan, and less like a man with “ties to the industry.”


        [Image via Judy Eddy/WENN.]

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        Sen. Ben Sasse keeps getting signed up for Nickelback newslettershere was his reaction

        What’s arguably worse than seeing Nickelback live in concert? Getting multiple promotional fan and newsletters due to an undesired subscription.

        The nightmare-turned-reality was bestowed upon Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse by an anonymous entity Friday, described bythe Republican as “Not. Funny” via his Twitter account.

        Sasse has openly expressed his dismay about the Canadian rock band in the past, often posting his disapproving views and trolling Nickelbackon social media. This is the second time so far this year that Sasse has found himself on the receiving end of an unwanted subscription.

        Though Sasse ensured the world that he does not think it’s funny (especially not for a second time), many on the Twittersphere are smug with the wonderful evil that is the mailing list:

        But hours later, Sasse tweeted that he received an apology from prankster Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Though no official statement has been released by Hatch’s office, he’s undoubtedly commencing with more online trolling himself:

        Some on Twitter howevertook the banter as an opportunity to ask more serious questions about the GOP healthcare reform:

        Sasse, you will never forget this. It’ll be ingrained into your memory. Like a photograph.

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