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First Read is your briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter
Republican health care claims don’t hold up
On the Sunday shows yesterday, top Republicans — in the Trump administration and on Capitol Hill — made at least three assertions about the House health care bill (which cleared the chamber on Thursday) that don’t hold up under scrutiny.
Assertion #1: The House bill will be “more affordable” for those with pre-existing conditions: When NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked HHS Secretary Tom Price on “Meet the Press” yesterday if Americans with pre-existing conditions will be able to afford coverage under the House bill, Price responded, “Absolutely. We think it’s going to be more affordable as a matter of fact, Andrea.”
In fact: Those with pre-existing conditions who don’t maintain continuous health insurance could pay more.
As NBC's Maggie Fox wrote last week: "Health consultancy firm Avalere released an estimate Thursday showing that the $23 billion allocated by the new AHCA to help cover people with pre-existing conditions would only pay for 110,000 of them. "Approximately 2.2 million enrollees in the individual market today have some form of pre-existing chronic condition," Avalere says in its report."
And more: “States would have the option to get waivers from two of Obamacare’s requirements: that insurers cover ‘essential health benefits,’ and that they charge the same price to everyone regardless of their health history. That would get rid of a key protection for people with preexisting conditions. An amendment added to the AHCA in late April allows states to opt out of Obamacare’s ‘community rating’ requirement — which says that all people, healthy and sick, should be charged the same prices — for people who do not maintain continuous health insurance coverage,” Vox’s Sarah Kliff writes. House Republicans inserted an amendment into the legislation to spend $8 billion over five years to help those with pre-existing conditions, but experts and observers say that money isn’t enough.
Assertion #2: No one will be hurt by the House bill’s provision to cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid: When House Speaker Paul Ryan was asked if anyone will be hurt here, he answered, “No, no, I don't, because I think the micro-management of Medicaid by the federal government. The Medicaid system isn't working.”
In fact: Millions of Americans who got health insurance through expanded Medicaid would no longer have that insurance: “CBO estimates that several major provisions affecting Medicaid would decrease direct spending by $880 billion over the 2017-2026 period. That reduction would stem primarily from lower enrollment throughout the period, culminating in 14 million fewer Medicaid enrollees by 2026,” the Congressional Budget Office said in March about an earlier draft of the House bill. (A revised CBO score on the updated legislation is expected this week.)
Assertion #3: “I think everybody will have coverage that is better than what they had under Obamacare”: That’s what Trump OMB Director Mick Mulvaney told CBS yesterday when asked yesterday about the final legislative product from both the House and Senate.
In fact: Older Americans would have to pay more under the House bill than they do now: “Under current law, a 64-year-old can generally be charged premiums that cost up to three times as much as those offered to a 21-year-old. Under the legislation, that allowable difference would shift to five times as much unless a state chose otherwise. That change would tend to reduce premiums for younger people and increase premiums for older people,” the Congressional Budget Office said. “By 2026, CBO and JCT project, premiums in the nongroup market would be 20 percent to 25 percent lower for a 21-year-old and 8 percent to 10 percent lower for a 40-year-old—but 20 percent to 25 percent higher for a 64-year-old.”
As the New York Times’ Ross Douthat writes, Democrats paid a significant price for Barack Obama’s “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” promise, which turned out not to be true. But you can argue that all of those three assertions above about the House health-care bill — on pre-existing conditions, on Medicaid, and on the promise that everyone will have better coverage” — are just as big as Obama’s whopper. If not bigger…
Sally Yates’ testimony puts Russia and Michael Flynn back in the news
The other major political storyline today is former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. “Lawmakers want to question Yates about her conversation in January with White House counsel Donald McGahn regarding former national security adviser Michael Flynn,” the Washington Post reports. “People familiar with that conversation say she went to the White House days after the inauguration to tell officials that statements made by Vice President Pence and others about Flynn’s discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were wrong, and to warn them that those contradictions could expose Flynn or others to potential manipulation by the Russians.” The subcommittee hearing begins at 2:30 pm ET.
Kushner family in China: Invest in our properties and you’ll get an American visa
Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine the reaction from Breitbart, Steve Bannon, and top White House Stephen Miller if this took place under another administration. “The Kushner family came to the United States as refugees, worked hard and made it big — and if you invest in Kushner properties, so can you. That was the message delivered Saturday by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s sister Nicole Kushner Meyer to a ballroom full of wealthy Chinese investors in Beijing,” per the Washington Post. “Over several hours of slide shows and presentations, representatives from the Kushner family business urged Chinese citizens gathered at a Ritz-Carlton hotel to consider investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a New Jersey luxury apartment complex that would help them secure what’s known as an investor visa. The potential investors were advised to invest sooner rather than later in case visa rules change under the Trump administration. ‘Invest early, and you will invest under the old rules,’ one speaker said. The tagline on a brochure for the event: ‘Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.’” Just wow…
What Macron’s victory in France tells us
Finally, the world’s biggest political story is Emmanuel Macron’s victory over Marine Le Pen in France yesterday. NBC News: “The remarkable ascendancy of Emmanuel Macron — who has never held public office — has thrown a spotlight on centrist politics at a time of extreme polarization as well as the former teacher 24 years his senior who will be France's new first lady. The independent candidate comfortably won Sunday's presidential election. Macron caused a political earthquake by emerging as the top challenger to far-right populist Marine Le Pen, breaking the post-World War II stranglehold of the mainstream parties with his new ‘En Marche!’ movement.” Macron’s victory is worth pondering: In our current global politics, is the best way to beat back a nationalist via an independent candidate like Macron?
Of course, there was one significant difference between Le Pen in France and Trump in the United States. France’s center-right party worked to defeat Le Pen, while America’s center-right party overwhelmingly backed Trump. More from the New York Times: “The French presidential runoff transcended national politics. It was globalization against nationalism. It was the future versus the past. Open versus closed. But in his resounding victory on Sunday night, Emmanuel Macron, the centrist who has never held elected office, won because he was the beneficiary of a uniquely French historic and cultural legacy, where many voters wanted change but were appalled at the type of populist anger that had upturned politics in Britain and the United States.”
White House to unveil judicial nominees
Per NBC’s Kristen Welker, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer will announce new conservative federal court nominees at his briefing today. The New York Times was the first to report the story: “Having filled a Supreme Court vacancy, President Trump is turning his attention to the more than 120 openings on the lower federal courts. On Monday, he will announce a slate of 10 nominees to those courts, a senior White House official said, the first in what could be near monthly waves of nominations.”