clock menu more-arrow no yes

Vox Sentences: Pretty much no one likes the GOP’s health care bill

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Wow, is this a disappointing Republican health care bill.


AHCA? More like eh-HCA.

HHS Secretary Tom Price Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • The American Health Care Act — House Republicans' proposal to overhaul Obamacare — was released Monday night, in preparation for simultaneous markups (scheduled for Wednesday) of different parts of the plan in two different House committees.
  • The House plan gets rid of the individual mandate for health insurance, but does allow insurers to charge a 30 percent higher premium for one year for people who come back into the health care market after having been uninsured. It also restructures the tax credits for people to purchase health insurance — so that they're most generous to older Americans, not poorer ones — while making it easier for insurers to charge older customers higher rates. Vox's Sarah Kliff (of course) has the guide you need. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • The weird thing about the bill is that it isn't yet clear how much it costs, or how many people it will insure. Pushing the bill forward without that information makes it really unclear what problem the GOP plan is actually trying to solve, other than "House Republicans needed to come up with an 'Obamacare replacement,'" which is not a problem afflicting anyone but House Republicans. [Reason / Peter Suderman]
  • That's not to say the bill is pointless. It could be actively damaging. Replacing the mandate with a "continuous coverage" penalty could accelerate the much-dreaded "death spiral," in which only the sickest Americans bother to purchase insurance (and have to pay an arm and a leg to do it). [Vox / Alvin Chang]
  • The changes to Medicaid, meanwhile, spook free market critics of Obamacare, who warn that the GOP plan could end up pushing more states to expand Medicaid coverage in the next few years. [Cato Institute / Michael F. Cannon]
  • And analysts such as Standard & Poor's estimate that the age-based tax credits won't be enough to help many elderly Americans buy insurance that's getting more expensive for them, and that the Medicaid changes will shrink the rolls — which could leave 6 million to 10 million more people uninsured. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
  • So: Liberal wonks don't like it. Libertarian and conservative wonks don't like it. Conservative pressure groups (including the Heritage Foundation) don't like it and are already attacking it (although the Chamber of Commerce is supportive). [Politico / Louis Nelson]
  • Even Breitbart doesn't like it, in part because it doesn't go far enough but largely because it gets rid of an existing check to ensure that unauthorized immigrants with fake Social Security numbers aren't given health care credits on the taxes they're using those fake Social Security numbers to pay. [Breitbart News / Katie McHugh]
  • But House Speaker Paul Ryan guarantees there will be votes for it when it gets to the floor. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hinting he might not even let a Senate committee take a crack at amending the bill after it passes the House. [Politico / Burgess Everett]
  • McConnell could end up facing an extremely tough decision. Only some parts of the AHCA are likely eligible to be passed through the Senate's 50-vote "reconciliation" process — the rest would require a regular process, which could meet a filibuster and a 60-vote threshold. McConnell would have to break longstanding reconciliation norms to muscle the AHCA through — when many members of his caucus don't like the bill at all. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]

THAAD, the controversial new kid* on the block (*missile defense system)

Part for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system arrive at the Osan base, South Korea NurPhoto / GettyImages
  • On Monday, the US delivered the first components of its THAAD missile defense system to South Korea, to protect it from missile attacks (nuclear or otherwise) from North Korea. [WSJ / Jonathan Cheng]
  • (THAAD stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense — it's a system that destroys incoming missiles on their way down toward Earth, by monitoring them with a radar-based system.) [The Diplomat / Ankit Panda]
  • The THAAD deployment to South Korea has been in the works for months. But it just happened to start right after North Korea conducted another missile test — one it said was supposed to simulate targeting US military bases in Japan. [Washington Post / Anna Fifeld]
  • The problem for THAAD is that China really doesn't like it. Like, really doesn't like it. (It's concerned that the US will use Japan and South Korea to hem in Chinese influence — and it probably isn't pleased that the THAAD radar that's pointed toward North Korea could intercept a Chinese missile too.) [Washington Post / Adam Taylor]
  • Indeed, China has already shut down nearly two dozen stores owned by a Korean company that gave land to the South Korean government last week for THAAD. [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
  • Complicating all of this further: South Korea's president might be removed from office soon in the wake of her influence-peddling scandal. And it's not clear that her successor will be as keen to deploy THAAD quickly as she was. [NYT / Gerry Mullany and Chris Buckley]

WikiLeaks says the CIA is up in your base

CIA HQ Charles Ommanney/Getty Images
  • WikiLeaks published a cache of documents that it claims are hacking tools used by the CIA — and that demonstrate a wide array of capabilities to hack into individual devices and monitor communications. [Washington Post / Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima]
  • It's hard to overstate just how wary the government is of revealing to the public what its hacking capacities are. The Department of Justice literally just dropped a child pornography prosecution because it wasn't willing to agree to a judge's demand to reveal how it had gotten through the defendant's browser encryption. [Ars Technica / Cyrus Farivar]
  • The new documents make it clear that once the CIA has installed malware on a device, it can access information on that device even when the information is on encrypted apps like Signal. [NYT / Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti, and Matthew Rosenberg]
  • (This doesn't mean that Signal, or other apps like it, are compromised — it means that phones can be compromised, and people should be careful with their phones in addition to encrypting their communications.) [The Intercept / Sam Biddle and Micah Lee]
  • The WikiLeaks cache also reveals the CIA can do something security experts have warned about for a while: turn Samsung smart TVs into remote spy devices that record all conversations around them (something that's possible, because the Samsung TV's voice activation requires the device to always be "listening"). [The Verge / Russell Brandom]

Miscellaneous

  • How a British priest figured out a method for weighing Earth — in the 1780s. [Nautilus / Marcia Bartusiak]
  • The scientific reason Peeps-flavored Oreos turn your poop pink. [LiveScience / Sara G. Miller]
  • Scientists at MIT and Berkeley jointly claim the patent for CRISPR, but MIT won the court battle. So when MIT's Feng Zhang visited Berkeley to give a talk about the technology, there were almost mass protests. [Wired / Anna Vlasits]
  • Against Hamilton (both Alexander and the musical). [The Baffler / Matthew Stoller]
  • Ann Arbor is using new traffic management software, which knows exactly how many vehicles are stopped where and how many are coming, to control its traffic lights. The result is an astonishing reduction in traffic and travel times. [Wired / Aarian Marshall]

Verbatim

  • "Delgado agitated the temporal lobe of a young epileptic woman while she calmly played the guitar, prompting her to react by violently smashing the guitar against the wall in rage." [Gizmodo / Kristen Brown]
  • "Kat Palmer learned in grade nine biology that two blue-eyed parents can’t have a brown-eyed child. She thought that was curious, because she had brown eyes and both her parents had blue. But when she joked about it at home, she got a shock: her mother told her she’d been conceived at a fertility clinic, using sperm from an anonymous donor." [Hazlitt / Alison Motluk]
  • "My thought is that injecting a 10-month-old child with the AIDS virus really puts you in the same category as a war criminal." [GQ / Justin Heckert]
  • "According to the Guinness Book of World Records, these are the roundest objects ever made. The Stanford team that worked on the spheres says only neutron stars are more spherical." [Nautilus / Rose Eveleth]
  • "The world’s richest doctor had just made a $12 million gift to the University of Utah. Members of the university community were urged to come thank him. … Not mentioned in any of the tributes: $10 million of his donation would be sent right back to one of his companies." [STAT / Rebecca Robbins]

Watch this: The Doomsday Clock, explained

The clock is ticking. [YouTube / Nicholas Garbaty]