Senate Republicans failed to pass a scaled-down Obamacare repeal bill early Friday with a vote of 49-51. The failed voted derailed the GOP’s seven-year campaign to dismantle the legacy of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act—dealing a major political setback for President Trump.
Three Republican senators — John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins—and all Democrats voted against the bill—culminating in a major defeat for Republicans and President Donald Trump who made the repeal of Obamacare a focal point of his campaign.
The late-night debate leading into the early hours of Friday morning put to rest the GOP’s relentless mission to fulfill a seven-year promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
After the vote was final, President Trump tweeted:
3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
The Senate attempted to pass multiple versions of repeal—repeal and replace a straight repeal and Friday’s slimmed-down (skinny) repeal, but none garnered the support of 50 Republicans.
Joining two other Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Arizona Senator John McCain’s trip to Washington a week after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer, cast the decisive vote to defeat the proposal. It was his vote — the 50th — that allowed Republicans begin debating the measure.
McCain denounced the rise of partisanship upon his return to the Senate on Tuesday with a passionate speech. It was McCain’s no vote that would sink the GOP’s “Skinny Repeal’ plan—putting an end to the partisan repeal effort.
Trump spoke to McCain on the phone Thursday night according to a White House spokesperson with direct knowledge of the call. The president urged McCain to vote to for the “skinny repeal” bill — assuring him it wouldn’t end up passing into law.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY), said after the 1:40 a.m. vote—Republicans remained committed to repealing the Obama-era health law.
“We told our constituents we would vote that way and when the moment came, the moment came, most of us did,” he added.
“This is clearly a disappointment,” McConnell added. “It’s time to move on.”
Vice President Mike Pence, reportedly arrived in the chamber with the hopes of rescuing the bill by casting a deciding vote.
John McCain voted against the Health Care Freedom Act on Friday morning, handing Republicans a stinging defeat. (Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0)
Several Republicans said they were unsure of how McCain would vote. When McCain turned down his thumb to indicate his decision, audible gasps broke the silence in the chamber.
Senator McCain “The Renown Maverick,” had set into motion a vote that some would perceive as defying his party and the president—on the one issue that had been a thorn in the side of Republicans for seven years—to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Sending off a strong message of ‘bipartianship’ McCain walked off the Senate floor with few words, “I thought it was the right vote,” he said a short time later while getting into his car.
Senator McCain’s office put out a more detailed statement later:
“I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote. We should not make the mistakes of the past that have led to Obamacare’s collapse, including in my home state of Arizona where premiums are skyrocketing, and health care providers are fleeing the marketplace.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-AL), stood against every version of the legislation despite the immense pressure coming from many within the GOP. The Trump administration threatened to withhold federal resources from Alaska because of Murkowski’s opposition, according to the Alaska Daily News. Murkowski said that she would not characterize the White House response as a “threat.”
“I sat there with Senator McCain. I think both of us recognize that it’s very hard to disappoint your colleagues,” Murkowski told NBC News after the vote. “And I know that there is disappointment because it was the three votes that Senator McCain, Senator Collins, and I cast that did not allow this bill to move forward. And that is difficult.”
“But I believe each of us stood up for the reasons that we felt were right,” she added.
The failed vote occurred about three hours after the text of the latest version was released, and the slimmed-down version, designed specifically to get the 50 votes needed. It wasn’t enough to garner the necessary support.
Democrats were consistent in sustaining pressure against Republicans by slowing down not only the health care debate on the floor but all Senate activity. Activists held daily protests on Capitol Hill—targeting certain senators’ offices. Those protests continued until the vote occurred Friday morning with health care activists gathered outside the Capitol.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), told reporters that he knew McCain was going to vote against his own party’s bill by around 10 p.m., three hours before the vote. He said he had talked to his colleague four or five times per day over the last three days.
“John McCain is a hero and has courage and does the right thing,” Schumer said.
Schumer would later tweet,
We are not celebrating; we are relieved–for the Americans who can now keep their #healthcare. We must work together to improve the law.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 28, 2017
The passage on the Health Care Freedom Act—the “skinny” repeal, was never certain. Even Republicans who voted for it disliked the bill.
“The skinny bill as policy is a disaster. The skinny bill as a replacement for Obamacare is a fraud. The skinny bill is a vehicle to getting conference to find a replacement,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), said at a Thursday evening news conference hours before the vote alongside fellow Republicans McCain, Ron Johnson and Bill Cassidy, before the details were released.
The “skinny” repeal was far from Republicans’ campaign promise of also rolling back Medicaid expansion, insurance subsidies, Obamacare taxes, and insurance regulations.
Many Republicans who did vote for it said they were holding their nose to vote for it just to advance the process into negotiations with the House of Representatives.
The legislation included a repeal of the individual mandate to purchase insurance, a repeal of the employer mandate to provide insurance, a one-year defunding of Planned Parenthood, a provision giving states more flexibility to opt out of insurance regulations, and a three-year repeal of the medical device tax. It also would have increased the amount that people can contribute to Health Savings Accounts.
In the hurried process of trying to come up with legislation, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released an analysis late on Thursday night that found that 16 million people would lose their health insurance in 2018 under the latest plan. Premiums would have risen 20 percent each year over the next decade, the analysis found
By LeNora Millen 07-29-17
Simple Solutions to Combat Winter Skin Sensitivity
The winter season is here, and it’s important to get in the habit of taking care of your skin. Cold weather brings low humidity levels and dry air, which can suck the moisture from your skin, and without proper care, skin can become dry, cracked and irritated, causing discomfort.
This winter, focus on a regimen that helps protect and hydrate skin so you can spend time enjoying the benefits of winter like family game night, snow days and snuggling by the fire.
Prepare your family for cold weather with these simple tips that can be easily incorporated into your family’s daily routine, keeping skin feeling soft and healthy all winter long.
Hydrate Inside and Out. Staying hydrated during the hot, summer months is a given, but it is also important to remember that cold winter air can leave your skin parched. Use a humidifier to keep skin hydrated during the dry months and be sure to lather on moisturizer. Natural moisturizers like coconut oil and shea butter can act as protective barriers against harsh elements, sealing in moisture. In addition to hydrating on the outside, it is just as important to stay hydrated on the inside. By drinking water throughout the day, your skin can stay healthy and moisturized.
Switch to a Mild Laundry Detergent. Many common detergents can be abrasive to sensitive skin, especially when it is more vulnerable to irritation during the harsh winter months. Wash bed linens, towels and clothes with a mild detergent like all Free Clear year-round, especially during the winter months. As the No. 1 recommended detergent brand by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin, all Free Clear includes no dyes, fragrances or irritating residues. Using the power of stainlifters to fight tough stains, it is also safe for the whole family to use, keeping laundry clean while being gentle on skin.
Avoid Toxins, Specifically Allergens, and Irritants. Products that contain toxins, allergens and irritants should be avoided during months when skin is most sensitive. Choose moisturizers and skin care products that don’t contain common irritants, and opt for mild cleansers and moisturizers that are specifically labeled for sensitive skin. Castor oil is another moisturizer alternative that is natural and can be used on both the face and body.
Layer Up. Lock in moisture and protect your skin from wind, rain, and snow by wearing layers whenever you venture outside. The skin on your neck, face and hands is thinner than other areas of the body and therefore more sensitive to the effects of winter weather. Thermals, scarves and gloves can keep you warm and protect your skin from the cold, dry air. For those with sensitive skin, avoid synthetic fabrics and itchy materials like wool, and wash clothes with a dermatologist-recommended detergent like all Free Clear.
By implementing these best practices for skin sensitivity, you can minimize redness, dryness and discomfort to help skin stay healthy and glowing throughout the winter season. Visit all-laundry.com to learn more.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Tire Safety Tips for Winter When Temperatures Drop
The same temperature you can begin to see your breath at 45 F—is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.
As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.
Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.
To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts on tires and winter driving recommend following these four tire safety tips:
- Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
- Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow, and salt during the winter months.
- Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire.
- Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.
Your safety is important, that’s why drivers should make it a point to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.
Photo: Getty Images
Source: Discount Tire
Medicare Takes Aim at Medical Identity Theft: Protecting Seniors From Fraud
Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for personal identity theft. In 2014 alone, there were 2.6 million such incidents among seniors, according to the Department of Justice.
A growing offshoot of identity theft is healthcare fraud, which can result when someone unlawfully uses another person’s Medicare number. Medical identity theft can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which in turn can result in delayed care, denied services and costly false claims.
That’s why Medicare works with the Department of Justice, taking aim squarely at would-be thieves. In the largest law enforcement action against criminals fraudulently targeting the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare programs, 412 people around the country, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were charged in 2017 with bilking U.S. taxpayers out of $1.3 billion.
New Medicare Card for 2018. (Video Courtesy of YouTube)
The next big fraud-fighting push is well underway — and its focus is protecting the personal information of senior citizens by removing their Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.
People with Medicare don’t need to take any action to get a new Medicare card. Beginning in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out newly designed Medicare cards to the 58 million Americans with Medicare. The cards will have a new number that will be unique for each card recipient. This will help protect personal identity and prevent fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. To help with a seamless transition to the new cards, providers will be able to use secure lookup tools that will support quick access to the new card numbers when needed.
Healthcare fraud drives up costs for everyone, but healthcare consumers can be an effective first line of defense against fraud. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:
- Treat your Medicare number like a credit card.
- When the new card comes in the mail next year, destroy your old card and make sure you bring your new one to your doctors’ appointments.
- Be suspicious of anyone offering early bird discounts, limited time offers or encouraging you to act now for the best deal. That’s an indicator of potential fraud because Medicare plans are forbidden from offering incentives.
- Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.
- Only give your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
- Report suspected instances of fraud.
- Check your Medicare statements to make sure the charges are accurate.
- Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and request your Medicare number or other personal information.
- Don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
- Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
- Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.
- Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman.
Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance.
With a common sense approach to protecting health information, senior citizens can be effective partners in fighting Medicare fraud.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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