Super Ugly Waiver (It’s back)

The AHCA is not yet dead. It was just resting for a bit before joining the choir invisible.

The New York Times reports that the White House and the House Freedom Caucus (the hard right flank of the House GOP) have been talking and thinking they have the contours of a deal.

The terms, described by Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the head of the Freedom Caucus, are something like this: States would have the option to jettison two major parts of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance regulations. They could decide to opt out of provisions that require insurers to cover a standard, minimum package of benefits, known as the essential health benefits. And they could decide to do away with a rule that requires insurance companies to charge the same price to everyone who is the same age, a provision called community rating…..

In simple terms, a carrier can’t deny a hemophiliac coverage but they can charge an actuarial fair premium of $90,000 per year. A carrier can’t deny a young woman who either is or intends to become pregnant. They just don’t have to cover the prenatal or labor and delivery costs.

It is effectively a slightly modified option 3 of Cassidy-Collins where states can return to the 2009 status quo if they so actively elect to do so. If we combine a single state choosing this route and sell across state lines, it would lead the entire country’s individual market back to 2009.

I may be reading too much into the conditional language but to me this is a SUPER (ugly) WAIVER provision. It modifies Section 1332 guard rails to basically meaninglessness. States could then choose to do whatever the hell that they want without concern for coverage requirements. Currently Section 1332 and other waivers in health policy have an equality clause where the states’ preferred options must be at least as good for beneficiaries. This rule would render that null. And I don’t think many/any states would actually take the Feds up on this option as the localized consequences are too immediate and real but if the goal was to design a bill that could get 12% support instead of 17% support, this would be it.

Update 1 This sounds about right to me:

I have no idea how the Tuesday Group stays on board. They were a sufficient blocking coalition under AHCA V1 once the flood gates were starting to open up. The politics of health reform are nasty in the best bills and this is a devolution of a very bad bill. The marginal members of a majority sitting in opposite party or break even districts are the first ones to get hit in a wave.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Keep Resisting

Bill Nye, star of the megahit “Science Guy” television show of the 90s, announced his public support of the March for Science in a blog post on Thursday. The April 22 march is billed as a call for the world to support and safeguard science in light of recent policy changes disrupting research at the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, NASA, and more. The event will include a teach-in and rally on the National Mall followed by a march through the streets of D.C.

Nye, whose new Netflix series will drop the day before (an air date set long before the march was planned, but presumably also intended to coincide with Earth Day, which is on April 22), will be at the event as a speaker and honorary co-chair. He explained his support for the march in a blog post for The Planetary Society, a science nonprofit of which he is currently the CEO…

What else is on the agenda as we start the new week?

Hearings on Merrick Garland’s SCOTUS seat are due to start again tomorrow…

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Hello I Must Be Going


Shamelessly stolen from Cole’s twitter feed. It was a lovely gathering last night, and I can’t thank Tom Levenson enough for organizing it, but my tolerance for meatspace interaction has been met for the next mumble-mumble. Apologies to anyone I missed greeting, while going up and down that long table!

Although commentor Flying Toaster and I agreed that we’re going to have to find some excuse to have a meetup at the Helmand… one of these days.

Apart from making plans for future meet-ups in your own locales (anyone can volunteer! show us cranky Bostonians how it should be done!), what’s on the agenda for the weekend?

Speaking of people who are SO OVER the jobs they willingly assumed, at least I’m not this putz…

Boston Meet-Up Hive Mind

Update: Resolution!

Asgard made it easy:  We’ve a reservation for 15-20 at 6 p.m. under my name.

Website.  Address:  350 Massachusetts Ave. Parking:  on street or various near-by municipal lots.  (Lot 6 on Bishop Allen is probably the closest muni one.)

Nearest public transport: Red Line T, Central Sq. Station.  Taking John’s location as the Greenwich Observatory of our new global map — with the Parker House at one’s back, turn left towards Boston Common on Tremont St.  Pick up the Red Line in the Alewife direction at the Park St. Station, on the corner of the Common — Park and Tremont Streets. Three stops to Central Sq. Sit near the rear of the train and take the exit nearest that end.  Asgard is on the corner of Mass. Ave and Sidney street, about 350 yards east (back towards Boston) from the subway stop.

See y’all there


Dear all,

We’re meeting up tonight with the Blogfather in attendence, weather be damned.

No details have yet been worked out, so here goes:

Unless howls of rage/despair suggest otherwise — 8 p.m. on the time?

Update: per John — timing is 6-9 —which probably makes the venue a little easier, as we’d sneak in ahead of the worst crush at more restaurant-y places.

Location…Been working on that this a.m., with some perplexity.  So a time-limited appeal to the hive mind (and/or those planning to come) seems in order.

Here are the criteria:

Has to be able to handle a party of up to 20 on a (snow-struck) Friday night.

Not disastrous parking.

Decent public transit access. (Pretty much Red Line, in my experience. Demur if you must.)

More or less central.  John’s staying downtown, right by the Common, so while there’s a reasonable circle of travel, not deep suburbs.

Not terrible:  decent food for those hungry, not too expensive, not pure bar focus given the range of folks that like adult beverages, those that don’t etc.  I don’t think we’re looking at a sit-down dinner thing for the whole gang, but could stand to be corrected.

I’ve been looking at the Cambridge axis from Kendall Sq. to Harvard Sq. and at some Boston venues — but I’m sufficiently house-bound these days to be a little unsure of some of the more recent options. (For the olds out there — I still miss Cronins.)

So some options:

Dive bar, often with reasonable space betw. Central and Harvard Square:  People’s Republik (how not, for this gang). Cons: dive bar, could be crowded, probably too bar like.

Asgard, near Kendal Sq. — bland, generic Irish-ish bar-restaurant, but very spacious.

Russell House Tavern, Harvard Sq. — Friday night problem, but it’s a big place and very easy to get to.  Again, nothing special on the food, more a convenience choice.

Mead Hall, Kendall Sq. — great beer list (epic); crowded, loud.  I could show up somewhat early and try to colonize space, but it can be a zoo. (It is spring break at MIT, which might help, but still).

Za in Kendall Sq. — they could accomodate us in a standing/high top area.  Not ideal, and constrained to Za’s mostly pizza menu.

In Boston, a BJ tweep has suggested Brandy Pete’s, which I don’t know; business district joint; parking issues, possible Friday night terrors.


I’m looking at some other stuff, but figured that the jackals may have a much better idea — so vote on the above and/or come up w. something better.  I’ll check in on the comments and try to make a consensus or a command decision w/in the hour.


Yr feckless social secretary.

Image: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin Rouge, 1892

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Stee-RIKE!


Apart from booing the Coward-in-Chief, what’s on the agenda for the day?

A trip to the mound for Donald J. Trump in the near future would be anything but ceremonial. It would mark the first time our president, who ran on the platform of American Toughness, showed his face in public since his inauguration. Over the last three months, Trump has been safely chauffeured from the White House to one of his hotels to his campaign rallies to his private club and back again, insulated by a gauzy cocoon of yes-men who tell him that any polls that show him to be unpopular are fake, and any people protesting against his agenda are paid. In the early days of his own presidency, Barack Obama participated in town halls, appeared on The Tonight Show, and sat courtside at an NBA game between the Wizards and the Bulls. Trump on the other hand was forced to cancel his only public appearance yet, a friendly trip to a Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee, out of fear that protesters would steal his headlines and undercut his populist narrative.

Potential booing aside, Trump would surely welcome a chance to show off his athletic prowess and Adonis-like physical form. After all, according to his personal physician, the soon-to-be-71-year-old is the “healthiest individual ever elected president”—George W. Bush’s six-minute miles and Barack Obama’s visible abdominal muscles be damned.

Trump has actually already thrown out a ceremonial first pitch once, as a civilian back in 2006 in honor of the Jimmy Fund (see photographic evidence here), so I know it’s possible. And with the baseball season rapidly approaching, I decided to sleuth it out myself….

[NSFB Warning: Do *not* click on that link during breakfast or while consuming fluids]

Open Thread: Gimme Sanctuary

Cue the Malevolent Leprechaun, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III :

Read more

Monday Morning Open Thread: The End of the Beginning

A BFD win, if we can keep it — and for once, it looks like we just might. Per the NYTimes, “Democrats, Buoyed by G.O.P. Health Defeat, See No Need to Offer Hand”:

Invigorated by the Republican dysfunction that led to a stunningly swift collapse of the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and relieved that President Barack Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment remains intact, Democrats are in their best position since their embarrassing loss in the November election.

While it is far too soon to suggest that the House Republican majority may be imperiled, Democrats are newly optimistic about picking up seats in 2018, hoping to ride a backlash against Mr. Trump. Seeing an opportunity, they say they will not throw Mr. Trump a political life preserver at what they sense could be the first turns of a downward spiral.

The president’s approval rating was already mired below 40 percent in some surveys, and is likely to remain low after the health bill’s failure. He has no prospects for legislative victories on the immediate horizon, given how complicated and time-consuming his next priority, an overhaul of the tax code, would be even for a more unified party.

And while his electoral success in states represented by Democrats in Congress had been thought to put such lawmakers in a vise between their party and their president, Mr. Trump demonstrated no ability to pick off centrist Democrats in his first significant legislative push. Democrats — red-state moderates and blue-state liberals alike — formed an unbroken front of opposition to the repeal-and-replace campaign…

Though the ability of Democrats to do much more than say no remains limited, their success in helping to thwart Mr. Trump will not only embolden them to confront him again — it will also inspire activists to push them to do whatever it takes to block his path.

“Having tasted victory, the resistance forces will feel even more empowered to insist that Democrats continue withholding any cooperation and not granting Trump any victories when he is so wounded,” said Brian Fallon, a Democratic strategist…

Cult-of-the-Savvy high priest and Politico founder Mike Allen, at his new brand Axios:

It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the Day 64 defeat. President Trump, who made repeal-and-replace a central theme of his campaign, and House Republicans, who made it the central theme of every campaign since 2010, lost in a publicly humiliating way despite controlling every branch of government and enjoying margins in the House rarely seen in the past century.

This virtually guarantees no substantive legislative achievements in the first 100 days. And it creates rifts and suspicions and second-guessing that make governing much harder.

What’s on the agenda as we start the new week?