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23 Million Fewer People Would Have Coverage Under Obamacare Repeal Bill, CBO Confirms

Twenty-three million fewer Americans would have insurance under legislation that House Republicans narrowly passed last month, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Wednesday.

The CBO also predicted that the deficit would come down by $119 billion over the next decade and that premiums for people buying insurance on their own would generally be lower for younger consumers and higher for older and sicker people than those premiums would be if the Affordable Care Act stays in place.

But the reasons why health insurance would be less expensive for some arent much to cheer about, the budget report makes clear. Prices would come down for healthy people because those who are sick or have illness in their medical histories would have less access to coverage and the policies available on the market would tend to be a lot less comprehensive.

In other words, the price for lower premiums would be some combination of higher out-of-pocket costs, fewer covered services, and coverage that would be harder to get for the people who need it most.

Insurance, on average, would pay for a smaller proportion of health care costs, the CBO report says. The budget office even predicts that several million people will opt to use the bills new tax credits to buy plans so bare-boned that they dont even qualify as health insurance.

The American Health Care Act the House bill to repeal most of Obamacare would take away $1.1 trillion from programs that help people get covered, including $834 billion in cuts to Medicaid, over the course of a decade.

The result would be 51 million Americans without health insurance by 2026, compared with 28 million under current law. The House-passed bill would effectively reverse all of the Affordable Care Acts coverage expansion, which pushed the uninsured rate to a historic low.

Coverage losses would begin soon, with 14 million more uninsured next year, 19 million more by 2020 and 23 million more by 2026, the report finds. The largest share of the lower coverage numbers would come from the 14 million fewer low-income people who qualify for Medicaid. The rise in the uninsured would fall hardest on low-income people aged 50 to 64, the CBO projected.

Health insurance premiums for young adults generally would come down, in part because policies would be less comprehensive. A 21-year-old could buy an unsubsidized policy for as little as $3,700 a year under the House bill, compared to $5,100 under the Affordable Care Act.

But the other side of that ledger reveals significantly higher costs for older people. A 64-year-olds annual unsubsidized premium would rise from $15,300 to as much as $21,000.

Wednesdays assessment of the American Health Care Act is relatively similar to the evaluations the budget office issued previously, when it studied earlier versions of the legislation.

In late April, House leaders rushed to vote on the bill less than 24 hours after making significant modifications, without waiting for the budget office to study how those changes to Obamacare might affect insurance coverage or the federal deficit.

One of those changes would have allow states to waive a rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people at greater risk of medical problems. Without that rule in place, insurers could jack up rates for people with pre-existing conditions, effectively making standard coverage unavailable and violating a key promise to guarantee insurance for everybody regardless of medical status, which most Republicans had endorsed.

In March, the House had failed to bring an earlier version of the legislation to the floor for a vote, embarrassing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and President Donald Trump, who were unable to pull together factions within the House Republican Conference. After that, conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus and more moderate lawmakers led by Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) negotiated a deal that enabled Republican leaders to cobble together just enough votes to pass the bill in the lower chamber. Trump held a celebration at the White House afterward.

The new language placated conservatives, who wanted to repeal more of the Affordable Care Acts consumer protections, and some moderates, who expressed concern about major coverage losses and about harming people with pre-existing conditions and who won additional funds meant to mitigate those problems.

Based on the CBO score, the moderates didnt actually get what they wanted.

The House-passed legislation would reduce the number of people with health coverage by just 1 million fewer than the earlier legislation.

And the bills ballyhooed waivers for states that want to curtail the Affordable Care Acts guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is the main reason that the CBO projected older and sicker people would have a harder time obtaining coverage. The money that moderate Republicans won to protect these people would help some but would be inadequate to maintain current levels of coverage and benefits, the budget office concluded.

Based mostly on states pre-Obamacare insurance regulations, the CBO made assumptions about how many would obtain those waivers. The report does not name the states.

One-sixth of Americans reside in states that would likely aggressively deregulate their insurance markets, allowing health insurers to charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions who experience a gap in coverage say,from a job loss that lasted more than 63 days. These states also are expected to seek waivers that would eliminate requirements to cover any type of medical care like prescriptions and would add annual and lifetime caps on coverage, according to the budget analysis.

Those state insurance markets would begin to destabilize for people with pre-existing conditions in 2020, the CBO predicted. People whose health status would pass muster with insurers would have access to less costly coverage than today, but those who were ill or had past health problems would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all, the report says.

About one-third of Americans live states that would likely make more modest changes to their insurance rules, such as excluding a few specific benefits that are mandatory under Obamacare or allowing insurers to charge consumers extra for riders to cover those benefits. A maternity coverage rider, for example, might increase premiums by more than $1,000 a month, the CBO estimated. Overall, prices in these states would be lower for younger people than for older ones. Policies in general would require more out-of-pocket spending on things like deductibles and copayments, and the cost of uncovered services would be borne entirely by patients.

For the remaining half of Americans, their states would be expected to retain most of the Affordable Care Acts insurance guarantees for people with pre-existing conditions and its required benefits, like hospitalizations, prescription drugs and maternity care. In those markets, premiums would come down for younger consumers and rise for older ones.

Theres no magic behind the bills effects on the budget deficit. The House approved a measure that would slash federal support for low- and middle-income families to obtain health coverage. Most of the money saved by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid and hundreds of billions more from financial assistance for those buying private health insurance would be transferred to wealthy households and health care companies in the form of tax cuts, with only a small amount left over for deficit reduction.

The Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obamas signature domestic policy achievement, provides tax credits for private insurance and expanded the Medicaid program, which offers government-sponsored insurance to low-income people.

The Affordable Care Act has also prohibited insurance practices like placing annual or lifetime limits on benefits that made it difficult for people with the most serious medical problems to pay their bills. And, crucially, the law includes an outright prohibition against insurers rejecting people with pre-existing conditions or charging them higher rates than healthy people.

But to finance the coverage expansion, the law raised taxes, predominantly on health care companies and the very wealthy. It also forced some people, particularly those whose relatively good health once gave them access to cheap coverage, to pay substantially higher premiums.

Some of these people have decided not to get insurance altogether, making it harder for insurers to balance their books to the point where many insurers have raised rates considerably or abandoned some local markets entirely. Nevertheless, the new CBO analysis projects that most of these markets would remain stable over time under current law.

Democrats have generally called for bolstering the Affordable Care Act by making tax credits more generous, for example, or using government bargaining power to drive down drug prices while leaving in place the expansions of Medicaid and all the new insurance rules.

Republicans, by contrast, have sought to weaken or eliminate those rules and to ratchet back spending on tax credits and Medicaid all while rolling back Obamacares taxes, giving relief to the corporations and wealthy people who pay them.

The House bill would do that, and now its up to the Senateto consider, modify or rewrite that legislation. Even before the House bill passed, a number of Senate Republicans were raising objections about the number of people who might lose coverage as a result. Nevertheless, the Senate GOP is on track to put together legislation of their own that would massively cut back the Medicaid program and provide far less help for those who buy private insurance.

Republicans face a backlash from some voters for undoing the Affordable Care Acts most popular provisions, and the bill violates Trumps oft-stated promise that he would replace the law with something better that covered everyone with lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs.

But Republicans also fear the wrath of their core supporters, who strongly support the GOP keeping its years-old vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Republican leaders in the Senate have said they hope to vote on a bill before adjourning for the August recess.

Just over one-quarter of Americans say they support the House-passed bill, according to aHuffPost/YouGov pollpublished Wednesday. Forty-four percent oppose it, while 31 percent said they were unsure. Views of the Affordable Care Act remain almost evenly divided, but 42 percent said the Republican bill would be worse,while only 23 percent said it would be an improvement.

This article has been updated with additional details, including from the Congressional Budget Office report and the findings of a HuffPost/YouGov survey.

CORRECTION: The CBO predicted that under the House-passed bill, there would be 23 million additional uninsured Americans by 2026, not 2016.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gop-health-care-bill-congressional-budget-office_us_5924e896e4b00c8df29feb68

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Trump Threatened To Let Obamacare ‘Implode.’ That’s One Promise He’s Keeping.

President Donald Trump has been telling us all along that he believes his best course politically is to do what he can to ensure that Obamacare breaks. What you may not have noticed is that hes actually been executing that plan.

The Affordable Care Act has had its share of problems, some them serious like health insurance premiums that middle-class families cant afford, and swaths of the country with little to no competition among insurers.

Since the beginning of the year, the actions of Trump and his team have exacerbated those problems. And unless they start doing something different, much of what some consumers dont like about Obamacare is going to be even worse next year.

Premiums will be higher than they would have been. Fewer insurance companies will sell policies to people who buy their coverage directly or through an exchange like HealthCare.gov (as opposed to people who get health benefits at work or from a government program like Medicare or Medicaid).

We could see less progress in covering the uninsured, or possibly even some areas of the country could see increases in the uninsured rate with people being priced out, said Cynthia Cox, an associate director at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

And this is only tangentially related to the push from Trump and the Republican-led Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a new bill that would covermillions fewer Americans, weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions and severely cut back on aid for low-income households.

When Trump became president, he took stewardship of the federal government and all the programs it runs. When it came to the Affordable Care Act a law the GOP has vowed to kill for over seven years Trump faced a choice: Manage it as best as he could while Congress debated what would come after it, or deliberately mismanage it. He has chosen the latter.

This all fits a pattern dating back to the ACAs enactmentin 2010.

Republicans in 19 states have refused to expand Medicaid, leaving millions uninsured. GOP-led states put roadblocks in front of insurance enrollment counselors tasked with assisting people shopping for coverage. The Republican Congress cut funding for insurance companies that greatly contributed to their financial difficulties with the exchanges, and to the closure of many nonprofit co-op insurers created under the law. And Republicans have led or championed a slew of legal challenges to the law, including two cases that went to the Supreme Court and a cost-sharing lawsuit still causing uncertainty.

Rather than take steps to mitigate premium increases and insurers exiting the exchanges, Trump and the GOP have cheered them along. Rather than reassure insurance companies that the federal government will honor its agreements with them, Trump is going out of his way to make them believe it wont. Rather than consider the millions of people who rely on this coverage, Trump declares Obamacare dead and washes his hands of it.

Governors, state insurance regulators, insurance companies, health care providers and the business community are pleading with the Trump administration (and Congress) to provide some clarity about whats going to happen next year. They arent getting it. State insurance commissioners and companies are saying they dont even know who to talk to, and cant get straight answers from anyone in the administration.

Health insurance companies have already started hitting deadlines with state governmentsto state their intentions for next year about whether theyll participate in these markets and how much theyll charge.

More deadlines are looming in the coming weeks with state and federal regulators. Unless Trump changes course, its looking more and more likely that everyone will assume the worst, and either abandon the health insurance exchanges orjack up prices even more to protect themselves.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters
Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price testifies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 29, 2017.

Trump told us he was going to do this

Trump warned everyone about this. At a January news conference nine days before his inauguration, Trump articulated his thinking on this very clearly. Standing by and doing nothing to make the health insurance exchanges function better would help him politically, in his view, because Democrats many of whom were actually concerned about the welfare of people covered under the Affordable Care Act would flock to him and agree to his plan to repeal the law.

The easiest thing would be to let it implode in 17, Trump said at the time. They would come, begging to us please, we have to do something about Obamacare.

When the House failed at its first attempt to pass a health care reform bill in March, Trump talked about this some more. Ive been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode, he said.

Statements like these are echoed by GOPlawmakers, and by the two officials chiefly in charge of Affordable Care Act programs Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. It therefore seems clear that the political leaders of the health care bureaucracy arent spending a lot of time worrying about the Obamacare marketplaces or the people currently using them to get covered.

The damage done

Actions, of course, speak louder than words, and the Trump administrations actions have caused real harm to this part of the health insurance system. The reckoning will come in autumn, when consumers set out to shop for next years policies.

On his first day as president, Trump issued an executive order instructing the agencies responsible for the Affordable Care Act to relax regulations and enforcement of its rules.

The IRS responded by announcing it wouldnt reject tax returns that left the part about health coverage a key enforcement mechanism for the laws individual mandate blank. That was merely a continuation of the agencys previous policy, which the IRS had planned to change this year. But it signaled to insurers, tax preparers and consumers that Trump wouldnt enforce the mandate, which functions as a way to nudge healthy people into the insurance pool lest they pay a fine for being uninsured.

Most of our CEOs and plans, based on communication from the IRS, are doubtful about enforcement, said Ceci Connolly, CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, a trade group representing insurers including Kaiser Permanente and Geisinger Health Plan.

Also in January, the administration canceled advertising intended to promote the end of the sign-up period on the health insurance exchanges, for which President Barack Obamas administration had already paid. When the final enrollment numbers came in, they were lower than for 2016, an outcome partially attributable to lost sign-ups during the final days, which had proved busier during the first three annual enrollment campaigns.

Most damaging has been Trumps cavalier attitude toward paying health insurance companies that serve the lowest-income exchange customers money theyre owed. Anthem, a big Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer with a major presence on the exchanges, has said it plans to keep selling policies on these marketplaces unless these payments go away, which could make the company reconsider.

Raymond Boyd via Getty Images
The Blue Cross Blue Shield building in Detroit, on July 21, 2012.

We remain pretty confused as to what the administrations position on cost-sharing reductions is, exactly, Connolly said. The messages have been so radically different from day to day and hour to hour that its nearly impossible for any responsible business to make plans for the future based on the commentary.

Because of a lawsuit that House Republicans brought in 2014 and won in lower court last year against the Obama administration, Trump has the powerto unilaterally make or refuse to make these payments, which totaled $7 billion in 2016. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must reduce out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copayments for poor enrollees, and the federal government is supposed to reimburse them for the expense. Almost 60 percent of exchange customers, or about 7 million people, qualified for these cost-sharing reductions this year.

So far, Trump has kept the money flowing but he keeps threatening not to. And even though Trump and House Republicans requested a delay in the lawsuit proceedings from a federal appeals court Monday instead of agreeing to halt the payments, all this uncertainty is making health insurance companies very nervous. Theres a good chance that will lead them to price next years coverage under the assumption they wont get paid for the cost-sharing reductions.

Health plans in the rest of the nation are sitting on edge of their seats waiting to see what the federal government is going to do, said Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, the Golden States health insurance exchange. A decision [to stop paying] CSRs is an early indicator that the federal government is maybe ready to walk away from the individual markets.

Amid all this, the administration has taken a few positive steps with respect to the exchanges, such as issuing an insurer-friendly regulation that, among other things, make it harder for consumers to cancel insurance policies right after receiving costly treatments. But those efforts havent balanced out the administrations other actions, and have even contributed to the confusion about how Trump and his team will run these programs.

Obamacare versus Trumpcare

Whatever Trumps actions and statements, the health insurance exchanges struggled before he took office. Rate increases for 2017 were substantial. Analyses from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Standard & Poors, the Congressional Budget Office and others have concluded the financial performance of these marketplaces and the insurers that use them are improving this year, in part because insurers have priced their policies more in line with their customers medical costs.

On Tuesday, for example, Health Care Service Corp., which runs Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in five states, announced it had reversed its losses on the exchange markets andearned a profit during the first quarter of this year.

The messages have been so radically different from day to day and hour to hour that its nearly impossible for any responsible business to make plans for the future based on the commentary. Ceci Connolly, CEO, Alliance of Community Health Plans

Theres a bit of irony here in that the individual market was starting to stabilize, Connolly said, even though it remains far from perfect.

Insurers in some regionsare still losing money and fleeing the markets, and more premium increases would have arrived next year, regardless. The question is, how much of this is attributable to Obamacares lingering problems and how much is because of the way Trump has overseen it (or failed to)?

We dont know what the premium increases wouldve been in Earth 2, Cox said. But it seems fair to say that some portion of these premium increases and some portion of the insurers decision to leave is because of the uncertainty theyre facing for next year.

Accurately quantifying what share of rate hikes is because of the law itself, and what share is because of Trump, would be hard, if not outright impossible.

But one at least one insurance company tried. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield asked Maryland regulators for a huge average premium increase next year 52 percent and said 15 percentage points of that is related to fear that Trump wont make the cost-sharing reduction payments. In other words, what was going to be bad will probably be worse as a direct result of the administrations posture.

Most premiums wont go up as high as CareFirst is requesting and its a good bet Maryland will squeeze the company to accept less.

But considering just the cost-sharing reduction payments issue, the Kaiser Family Foundation projects that would force insurers to raise premiums by an average of 19 percent above and beyond what they wouldve done next year if Trump stops reimbursing them.

And, ironically, ending the payments would increase total federal spending, because the higher insurance prices would entitle qualified consumers to larger tax credits to defray their monthly premiums, the foundation also found.

Not too late

Theres still time, although not much, for Trump or even Congress to intervene and reassure health insurance companies and consumers that the federal government will resume active stewardship of the exchanges.

It can still be salvaged, said Christina Pearson, a senior vice president at the consulting firm Avalere Health.

Making clear that the cost-sharing reduction payments will be made through the end of next year, and that the IRS will enforce the individual mandate, would go a long way toward making 2018 better for insurance companies and their customers.

But if Trump doesnt change his mind about all this, it will lead to to a health insurance market that simply doesnt work as well as it could. And that will be a result of the administration caring more about highlighting the markets failures than trying to make it as good as possible for the millions of people who use it.

The consequences, Cox said, are straightforward: We could see less progress in covering the uninsured, or possibly even some areas of the country could see increases in the uninsured rate with people being priced out.

Jonathan Cohn contributed reporting.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-obamacare-implode_us_5924494ae4b03b485cb53746

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Trump’s Budget Would Cut Planned Parenthood Out Of All Federal Programs

Andrew Cullen / Reuters
The White House budget plan’s exclusion of Planned Parenthood would be the first time a specific health care provider was locked out of participating in any federal programs.

The Trump administrations proposed budget specifically excludes Planned Parenthood from all Department of Health and Human Services programs, apparently the first time a presidents budget has done so, according to the leaked executive summary of the plan.

Trumps proposed fiscal 2018 budget follows through on a campaign promise and prohibits any funding in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill for certain entities that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood, the executive summary says. This prohibition applies toall funds in the bill,including Medicaid.

The freeze-out apparently goes beyond the House GOPs plan, which excludes Planned Parenthood only from Medicaid reimbursements.Trumps budget proposal bars the nations largest family planning provider from participating in any federal program, including cancer screening programs funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika virus prevention, HIV/AIDS testing and prevention, Violence Against Women Act grants to prevent sexual assault, maternal and child health programs and sexually transmitted disease and infertility prevention grants. No president has ever attempted to exclude a specific health provider from the entire federal budget.

Trumps proposed budget also includes $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid, which women disproportionately rely on,as well as massive cuts to food stamps anda supplemental nutrition programfor low-income women and infants. Ivanka Trump reportedly managed to include a paid family leave program in the plan, but that relatively small consolation prize does not seem to be appeasing womens health groups.

This is the worst budget for women and womens health in a generation, said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement Monday. It guts programs designed to help women and their families put food on the table, get the medical care they need, and make ends meet.Gimmicks and misdirection cannot cover up a deadly agenda that would hurt women and prevent access to basic health care in the U.S. and across the globe.

Planned Parenthood receives roughly half a billion dollars a year from the government, which it uses for preventative health services such as contraception, cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment. Federal law already prevents any taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortions.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/planned-parenthood-trump-budget_us_59237da5e4b03b485cb454ab

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‘Mom’ ditches Emmy campaign to donate to Planned Parenthood

(CNN)CBS’s “Mom” put its plans for an Emmy campaign on hold in support of Planned Parenthood.

Explaining their decision, star Allison Janney told “Access Hollywood”: “It just seems like now is a time to do something like this — as the House of Representatives voted to defund Planned Parenthood.”
Janney, who plays Bonnie on the series, is a long-time advocate for the organization. Janney said her great-grandmother worked with Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and her mother once sat on the board of an affiliate organization.
    Planned Parenthood has been a frequent target of GOP initiatives.
    In April, President Donald Trump signed a bill that allows states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, like Planned Parenthood.
    The majority of federal money given to the organization funds preventive health care, birth control, pregnancy tests and other women’s health services, according to information on Planned Parenthood’s website.
    “It’s been part of my family,” Janney said. “It’s an organization that’s important and needs to be here.”
    Janney has won two Emmys for her work on “Mom” and seven Emmys total.
    “Mom” has been praised during its four seasons for tackling issues like addiction, breast cancer and adoption.
    “I’m proud of all of us at ‘Mom’ for making that decision,” she said.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/19/entertainment/mom-emmys-planned-parenthood/index.html

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    Tips for dealing with a toddler and also Donald Trump


    President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
    Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

    Donald Trump is a man whose behavior follows the whim of his impulses and tantrums, much like a toddler, and the world is scrambling to accommodate it.

    Officials in the White House and from governments around the globe have tailored aspects of governance to the new president to fit his notoriously short attention span and need for praise.

    While most toddlers don’t have access to the nuclear codes, the advice for dealing with the president can also work for your kids at home.

    Please keep your speeches really brief

    Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

    The president’s attention span is not known for being long, and NATO officials are telling leaders around the globe to tighten their speeches to 2-4 minutes, lest the president’s mind wander, according to Foreign Policy.

    Make sure you tell him how well he’s doing

    hahaha

    Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

    As president, Trump is often briefed on matters of national security. But Trump doesn’t much like to read, so National Security Council folks have had to take creative approaches to getting Trump to finish their briefings.

    Something they’ve found that works? Mentioning his name in “as many paragraphs as we can,” one source told Reuters.

    Remember, he doesn’t understand some things

    Image: Peter Brooker/REX/Shutterstock

    White House officials have tried many times and in many different ways to defend the president’s disclosure of classified information to Russian politicians during a meeting at the White House earlier this month.

    What several of them did not say publicly but did anonymously tell The New York Times is that Trump couldn’t have divulged the ways and means of the U.S. intelligence-gathering processes because the president never bothered to learn them.

    Just keep him happy with ice cream

    Image: andrew Gombert/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

    When desert is some pie with a side of ice cream, everyone gets a single scoop. Unless you’re the president, in which case you get twice as many scoops.

    Remember, if the worst capitulation you agree to is ice cream, you’re probably doing fine.

    Speak soothingly

    Image: Jim Cole/AP/REX/Shutterstock

    When Trump is upset, he has his friends speak soothing sounds to him over the phone. Those friends include Fox News Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and a few billionaires. Richer friends/parents than a toddler is likely to have, but you get the idea.

    Bonus: Truck photos

    Remember that time Trump hopped inside a truck and smushed his face “into an excited scream” for the cameras?

    Trump gets in the driver’s seat of an 18-wheeler while meeting with truck drivers and trucking CEOs.

    Image: jim LO SCALZO/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

    Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/20/donald-trump-toddler/

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    Who gets hurt by GOP’s ‘pro-life’ hypocrisy

    (CNN)What does it mean to be pro-life? In today’s GOP, one thing: restricting access to safe abortion.

    Even if this doesn’t actually decrease the number of abortions, but just makes them more dangerous. Even if it means women and their children remain poor and vulnerable. Even if it means cutting off other necessary health care and aid. Even if it means women are injured. Even if it means women and babies die.
    It’s the “pro-life” performance that matters more than actual lives.
      Case in point: Republicans in Texas are now begging for the Medicaid dollars they gave up in order to defund Planned Parenthood four years ago.
      Should the Trump administration give Texas the Medicaid money it wants, it will open the door for other states to defund Planned Parenthood, too, a favorite cause of the anti-abortion right.
      Never mind that Planned Parenthood primarily prevents the unintended pregnancies that often end in abortion by providing affordable (and often free) contraception to women in need. Never mind the HIV and STI tests and the cancer screenings Planned Parenthood provides, and that there are many women for whom Planned Parenthood is the closest high-quality provider of health care.

        Women of faith and their abortions

      In the name of being “pro-life,” Texas Republicans cut those women off from the care they trust. And not just them — to punish Planned Parenthood for offering a legal medical procedure (and not a dollar of Medicaid or other federal funds pays for elective abortions), Texas Republicans were happy to refuse millions of Medicaid dollars to care for the poorest women in their state.
      This is in a state where 27% of births are funded by Medicaid — a number that rose after Texas defunded Planned Parenthood and poor women found it more challenging to access contraception and legal abortion.
      This bizarre definition of “pro-life” extends overseas, too. In what is largely seen as a gift to his anti-abortion base, Trump expanded the Gag Rule, and this week his State Department broadened the order, which strips US funds from any organization abroad that so much as mentions abortion as an option for women — even groups that don’t provide abortions at all but simply tell women their legal rights.
      Under previous Republican presidents, the Gag Rule applied only to family planning funds (about $600 million under George W. Bush). Now it applies to $8.8 billion in US global health funding, including programs for HIV and malaria. Because American dollars have been barred from funding abortions since the 1970s, none of the funding subject to this rule was paying for abortions in the first place.
      Studies of the Gag Rule have shown that it doesn’t actually decrease abortions, but because it does cut off access to contraception, it actually makes abortion rates go up. Who knows what will happen when the rule cuts off access to HIV drugs or vaccines.
      I’ve reported on the Global Gag Rule from Ghana, one of the countries hit hardest by Bush’s version of the rule. What most pro-lifers in America don’t seem to realize — or don’t care about — is that the health systems in developing countries are fragile and still being built, often in places that have seen recent conflict, and where there are low levels of public trust and long histories of trauma.

        Donald Trump’s evolving stance on abortion

      Many millions of people still lack access to basic health care, usually because of poverty or lack of proximity to a clinic. Health providers have done their best to centralize care, so a person can get contraception, HIV treatment, malaria pills and vaccinations from a single clinic or a mobile midwife going door to door in the village. And they’ve tried to build trust in that system. The Gag Rule undermines all of that.
      Trump also froze funding to UNFPA, a group that doesn’t provide abortions but does provide education and contraception. In Niger, where women have an average of seven children apiece, UNFPA works where few others do: The group runs “husband schools” to help educate men about getting their children in school, being respectful of their wives and spacing pregnancies so their wives and babies don’t die.
      In Nigeria, UNFPA is in refugee camps, tending to girls who have been kidnapped, raped and often impregnated by Boko Haram militants. But despite caring for so many rape victims, a UNFPA spokeswoman told me last year, they don’t offer abortions.

      Join us on Twitter and Facebook

      Women around the world, from Texas to Tanzania, being cut off from modern family-planning tools. Children in some of the world’s poorest corners losing their vaccinations and malaria medicine. People with HIV finding that the local NGO delivering their medicine must shutter for lack of funds. Health care providers forced to lie to their patients, and women doing what desperate women have always done — taking matters in to their own hands, and sometimes not living to tell about it.
      This is pro-life?

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/19/opinions/gop-pro-life-hypocrisy-filipovic/index.html

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      China’s ‘war on law’: victims’ wives tell US Congress of torture and trauma

      Women whose husbands were targets of Communist party crackdown on human rights lawyers call for US sanctions

      The wives of some of the most prominent victims of Xi Jinpings crackdown on civil society have stepped up their campaign for justice, backing calls for US sanctions against Chinese officials involved in allegedly barbaric cases of torture and abuse.

      Addressing a congressional hearing in Washington on Thursday, the women, whose husbands were among the key targets of a Communist party offensive against human rights lawyers, detailed the physical and psychological trauma inflicted by Chinas so-called war on law.

      Chen Guiqiu, who fled to the United States in March, told of how her husband, the attorney Xie Yang, had been imprisoned and brutally tortured because of his work defending victims of land grabs, religious persecution and dissidents.

      She described her husbands ordeal as an example of Chinas lawlessness and claimed that at his recent trial Xie had been forced to refute detailed claims that he had been the victim of sustained and brutal campaign of torture.

      Wang Yanfeng, the wife of Tang Jingling, a lawyer and democracy activist who was jailed in 2016 in what campaigners described as a gross injustice, said her husband had suffered repeated spells of abuse, threats and torture. Today other [lawyers and political prisoners] are still suffering from such torture, Wang said, calling on US president Donald Trump to challenge China over such abuses.

      In a video message, Li Wenzu, the wife of lawyer Wang Quanzhang, said she had heard nothing from him since he was seized by police at the start of the campaign against lawyers in July 2015. I am deeply concerned about my husbands safety. I dont know how his health is. I dont know whether he has been left disabled by the torture. I dont even know whether he is alive.

      Wang Qiaoling, whose husband, Li Heping, recently emerged from a 22-month stint in custody, said he returned home looking 20 years older and had told of being forced to sit for hours in stress positions and being shackled with chains. He suffered from very cruel and sick torture, Wang added.

      Also giving testimony was Lee Chin-yu, whose husband, the Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che, vanished into Chinese custody in March after travelling to the mainland. I stand alone before you today to plead for your help for my husband, Lee said, calling on Washington to pressure China to end her husbands illegitimate detention.

      Since Chinas crackdown on lawyers began almost two years ago, its victims wives have emerged as a relentless and forceful voice of opposition, often using humorous online videos and public performances to champion their cause. They say they have done so in defiance of a campaign of state-sponsored intimidation that has seen them trailed by undercover agents, struggle to enrol their children into schools or be evicted from their homes.

      Terry Halliday, the author of a book about Chinas human rights lawyers, said the lawyers wives had opened up a new line of struggle that we have not seen before in China.

      These women have become a very powerful and visible public presence both of criticism of the government, of appeals for the release of their loved-ones but also impugning China in the eyes of the world. It is remarkable.

      Its a whole new front, Halliday added. It is not so easy for the government to silence wives and daughters.

      Thursdays hearing was part of a push by human rights groups to convince the Trump administration to use a law called the Magnitsky Act to bring sanctions such as travel bans or property seizures against Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses.

      We should be seeking to hold accountable any Chinese officials complicit in torture, human rights abuses and illegal detentions, said Chris Smith, the Republican congressman who chaired the session and said he was compiling a list of potential targets.

      Smith said he hoped such action could help end the shocking, offensive, immoral, barbaric and inhumane treatment of Chinese activists that has accelerated since Xi Jinping took power in 2012.

      While President Xi Jinping feels feted at Davos and lauded in national capitals for his public commitments to openness, his government is torturing and abusing those seeking rights guaranteed by Chinas own constitution, Smith said.

      China has rejected claims of torture against the human rights lawyers it has imprisoned, dismissing such allegations as fake news.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/19/chinas-war-on-law-victims-wives-tell-us-congress-of-torture-and-trauma

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      How to bring humanity and tech together: Innovators and advocates on hope for the future

      Image: Shutterstock / whiteMocca

      The headlines are everywhere.

      Social media makes us narcissists. Screen time atrophies the brain. Work is inescapable. We sleep less, weigh more, and report higher levels of depression all thanks to the onslaught of tech.

      On the other hand, many of technologys benefits are undeniable: longer life spans, reduced poverty, and the democratization of both knowledge and opportunity.

      The question is: Can we bring humanity and tech into harmony?

      To find an answer, I connected with some of techs biggest names executives at places like Dropbox, Deloitte, Canon, Polycom, and more as well as a few of techs lesser-known stars. Their answers point toward hope in our work, commerce, and connections.

      Humanizing the tech we work with

      Workplace communication is often lamented as the very antithesis of humanity.

      Memo-driven hierarchies, reply-all email chains, and new cover sheets on your TPS reports are partly to blame. But the real disease lies deeper: namely, control, our desire to solidify tools and processes from the top down.

      Ironically, the antidote comes from a relationship to tech that unshackles tools and processes, instead, from the bottom up.

      Technology should work for people, not the other way around. It succeeds when it fits seamlessly into our lives and solves real problems. Too often, it forces us to change our behavior to fit its own limitations. Think about how painful it can be to file an expense report compared to how easy it is to pay a friend with Venmo.

      Increasingly the question of whether technology helps us or hurts us is our decision people will choose the products they love. The way to make tech more human is to listen.


      The future of work will be driven by technology, but technology at home and at work is and always will be bound by the desires, wants, passions, and needs of human beings. In enterprises, its a trend known as the consumerization of IT. More and more, the tools we use at work are being driven by consumers, instead of management. The professional rise of text and video, for instance, is a direct reflection of that same rise in our day to day lives.

      The key, however, is to prioritize bandwidth for infrastructure and freedom for personal choice.


      Technology should be viewed as a way to better connect, rather than divide, human interactions. For example, AV/VR technologies combined with ubiquitous, broadband capabilities could enhance the collaborations of workers in remote locations.

      Regarding intelligent automation, we dont foresee a quick, wholesale pivot to robotics but rather humans staying in the loop to perform the higher value work of making decisions and taking actions based on insights produced by machines.

      So with the right mindset, technology can enrich work rather than impoverish it. It can accentuate our humanity and maximize our potential.


      At its core, work is about communication. It’s about people sharing work, ideas, and opinions. Productivity suites were built to facilitate this but that was a long time ago. The way we communicate has shifted dramatically since then, and we need not a better but an entirely new way to work together.

      If we redesigned productivity software around the way people work today connected, mobile, and social how would it work? Wed elevate the fundamentals of human communication over esoteric features that most people dont even use anymore and unify content and communication. Its a next-generation way to work together.


      Making commerce relevant and inclusive

      To say the Internet fundamentally changed commerce is an understatement. However, the gulf between physical and digital products as well as the gulf between the haves and have-nots has been a bane since its inception.

      For consumers, more automation often means less individuality. Especially when it comes to irrelevant marketing and the disenfranchised. Can technology bridge these worlds?

      The lines between ecommerce and commerce are blurring as more and more brands look to experiment with traditional retail models. Pop-up shops for product drops and digital showrooms where people can co-create through VR, AR, and 3D are just two examples.

      Whether in-person, online, or blended, these experiences should integrate with purchase history, browsing behavior, and geolocation. Bringing those pieces together creates the kind of deep personalization we naturally crave.


      Paradoxically, I think machines are going to help us make our relationships with our customers more human.

      With advances in machine learning, digital assistants will be able to understand customer history and context and handle repetitive tasks much better.

      This will free humans to focus more on the relationship instead of rote tasks.


      The key is to remember that technology even AI and cognitive serves at the pleasure of the people. Its easy to be seduced by the multitude of magic wands at our disposal, but it’s always about the wizard.

      The best way to bring humanity back to tech is to force yourself to be surrounded by people. Sitting in an office, spitting out reports, and using them to infer customer needs and desires is shortsighted. And that robs us of what is really lacking in much of technology today: empathy.

      Start with requiring the makers of technology to spend two hours per week with real customers, observing how they use it.


      Theres a misunderstanding that technology is somehow neutral or unbiased, which is simply not true: anything made by humans is going to be biased, so we need to have a bias for inclusion.”

      It might seem counterintuitive, but we can make financial services more human by servicing the underserved via a smartphone app versus a traditional bank. Many of our customers call us family; they think of us as a friend or a partner.

      Were able to include people who are excluded from traditional finance. Women, for example, often encounter discrimination in a face-to-face interaction with a male lender; being able to access credit from the palm of their hand is liberating. Even men tell us they are afraid to face more formal lenders sometimes for fear of rejection and the shame that might bring them. Having a private, personal relationship with your financial services validates our customers humanity, and reminds them that someone out there believes in them.


      Fostering connections that dont add to the noise

      Perhaps the most daunting challenge is how tech affects relationships. Study after study not only documents the increasing time we spend behind screens but also their interpersonal dark side.

      Of course, how we use technology is far more important than what and when. Setting aside its abuses and, in some cases, combating them means leveraging our new-found interconnectedness for the good.

      We need to remember why technology is evolving in the first place: it solves real problems and connects people.

      One example includes using the latest imaging technology to help find missing children or prevent the exploitation of children. Canon has partnered for the last 20 years with The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children by providing the latest state-of-the-art technology which allows law enforcement to quickly disseminate photos across the U.S., not just to law-enforcement, but through social media as well.


      We released a feature called Content Suggestions in 2014, and there was a substantial bump in platform use. Many users loved it. However, we noticed that some were sharing identical posts without reading them.

      Essentially, we were contributing to spam, which was not great for content creators and also not great for Buffer as a product. We believe in creating authentic voices on social media, and this broke down that trust users had in us.

      Even though this feature had lots of traction we ultimately decided to shut it down. At the time, we had our values of Listen First and Do the right thing top of mind.


      With the rise of chatbots and voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home, talking to computers is becoming the norm. The challenge at this point is how to personalize interactions, and connect humans and computers on a more intimate level.

      Brands are already taking the lead in engaging conversational experiences are tailoring their bot personas to directly reflect their target audience for the best chance of retention and engagement. In messaging platforms planning a personality that informs the dialogue and entire interaction with consumers is critical. These authentic brand experiences wont be led by engineers but rather writers and designers, who can connect humans to technology through storytelling.


      Technology has the ability to connect people across the artificial lines in the sand we call nation-state borders. At BITNATION we’re using the blockchain technology to help people create their own nations, based on their beliefs and desires, rather than on where they were arbitrarily born.

      Using the blockchain we’ve helped refugees. People have used our technology to get married, to title their land, to write birth certificates and wills, and much more.

      Make technology about people and not about technology

      Writing about the patron saint of innovation, columnist Jason Hiner explained, Steve Jobss most important contribution will be that he made technology about people and not about technology.

      Is there hope for the future of humanity and tech? Certainly. This doesnt mean the pitfalls are easy to avoid, but it does mean theyre far from inevitable.

      Tangible buying experiences, serving the underserved, the consumerization of IT, and crossing traditional borders all point to the power of tech to reinforce our humanity rather than undercut it.

      After all, humans arent merely dominated by tech. We are its creators and hope lies in the image of ourselves we stamp upon it.


      Aaron Orendorff is the founder of iconiContent and a regular contributor at Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Fast Company, Business Insider and more. Connect with him about content marketing (and bunnies) on Facebook or Twitter.

      Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/17/how-to-bring-tech-and-humanity-together/

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      White House struggles to answer GOP questions on Capitol Hill

      Washington (CNN)As the White House rushed to contain the fallout on Capitol Hill during a head-spinning week of controversies, one senator resorted to mime to describe his reaction.

      He mimicked a cat, claws out, hanging on for dear life by clinging to a tree.
      “We’re all just like this,” the senator told CNN, shaking his head.
        “It’s crazy,” another senator whispered after giving a more diplomatic response about how lawmakers were handling the overwhelming pace of seemingly daily bombshell news developments. “Just crazy.”
        On Monday, The Washington Post reported he shared highly classified intelligence with Russian officials. A day later, the White House sought to push back against those reports, dispatching high-ranking administration officials to try containing the fallout.
        Before dinnertime on Tuesday, the subject in Washington had changed yet again. But Trump’s advisers could hardly call it a success, with the West Wing suddenly grappling with another firestorm: Whether the President asked FBI Director James Comey to close the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
        The back-to-back controversies threatened to further erode the credibility of the White House, which was already diminishing. The prospect of more drama — Comey being called to testify, along with confirmation hearings for a new FBI director — could fill the air for weeks or months.
        “This weekly scandal, weekly controversy is unhealthy for the country,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Florida, told reporters Tuesday night. “It’s a major distraction for the Congress and it’s just bad for the psyche of every American.”

          Chaffetz: I’m ready to subpoena for Comey memo

        ‘Wholly appropriate’

        The White House started the day hoping to “calm Republicans on the Hill,” one administration official said, with national security adviser H.R. McMaster coming to the White House briefing room to repeatedly say the President’s actions were “wholly appropriate.”
        Other high-ranking administration officials were assigned specific members of Congress to reach out to, offering individual explanations of the story.
        One official described it to CNN as an “all-hands-on-deck” push to correct the record and add context to the latest Trump administration bombshell. Another official describes the full-court press as an example of lessons learned from the firing of Comey, with an effort to swiftly answer as many questions as possible for members of Congress.
        The White House calls also extended to other influential voices across Washington, with an urgent mission to try and turn around the story in hopes of minimizing fallout before the President leaves the country on Friday.
        But once again, Washington whiplash. The day ended with even more questions about the ability of the President and his advisers to rise above another cloud.
        “We have not done ourselves any favors by picking those earlier fights with the intelligence agencies,” one administration official acknowledged to CNN, crestfallen at the seemingly endless controversies facing the White House.

          Senator: Trump’s request impeachable, if true

        ‘What more will there be?’

        The feedback from Capitol Hill has been brutal, two officials said, with several members of Congress and staffers bluntly offering concern at the notion Trump may have shared classified information. Even before the latest Comey fallout, one administration official described a common refrain from lawmakers as: “Good Lord, it’s one more thing. What more will there be?”
        There is rising agitation inside the White House at Thomas Bossert, the President’s homeland security adviser, who was not in the meeting last week with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister. One official said Trump and other senior staffers did not plan to “publicly throw him under the bus,” but there is a sense of deep frustration at him for sounding the alarm and “freelancing,” as one official described it, by alerting national security officials to the President’s message to the Russians.
        But for all of the finger-pointing and blame-placing inside the White House, the common factor in all of the controversies is the man in the Oval Office. Senior Republicans on Tuesday evening conceded that cracks were beginning to form in the party, with an uncertain path ahead.
        The President’s decision to tweet on Tuesday morning, effectively undermining McMaster, took many West Wing advisers by surprise, two officials said, and complicated the explanation process. In hindsight, one official said, McMaster should have taken questions Monday night after his brief statement.
        “It would have helped contain the Republican fallout right away,” one official said.
        For lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the repercussions from the delayed outreach were apparent Tuesday morning.
        Republican senators spent the early part of their day expressing views that ranged from disbelief to annoyance, not solely because of the issue itself and the national security implications, but because they were simply out of the loop, which several made clear.
        It wasn’t just rank-and-file Republican senators who hadn’t heard from the White House in the more than 15 hours since story broke. It was committee chairs, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, and perhaps most surprisingly, Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and other more senior members of the conference.
        It was the second time in as many weeks, multiple aides told CNN, where communications staffers were calling between offices trying to figure out who, if anyone, had accurate information, and more importantly, if anyone had an idea of how exactly to respond.
        Sen. Marco Rubio, among those who did hear from administration officials on Monday night, answered plainly when he was asked if he’d received any more clarity on what actually occurred in the meeting between Trump and Russian officials.
        “No,” Rubio told CNN on Tuesday morning. “We need to talk today — and we will.”
        Rubio said he had confidence the administration would eventually provide him with the answers he was seeking, adding: “We’ll see what happens after that.”
        The ramifications, as one senior Republican aide described, are that of a domino effect.
        Whatever the Trump administration does — whatever the latest crisis, manufactured or otherwise — will immediately be placed on the laps of GOP lawmakers. Every time they walk out of their office they will be met by reporters. Each time they go to vote on the Senate floor or file into a committee hearing, the questions will be lobbed their way.

          Sources: Trump asked to end Flynn investigation

        Zero guidance

        Yet, this marked another week where there was zero guidance on what exactly was happening — or any ideas on how to respond — from the administration.
        As a result, frustrated senators had little incentive to defend an administration that has caused far more headaches than it has cured. And that only serves to create more negative headlines for the administration.
        “It’s the equivalent of hanging our guys out to dry,” the aide said, noting that once McMaster took questions just a few hours later, several senators tempered their public concern and criticism.
        The lack of ready information, combined with the administration’s inability to move past issues, has led some to raise serious long-term questions about the administration.
        “Exhaustion. Frustration. It’s the distinct feeling that they’ll never get their shit together,” another aide said, describing the mood of he sensed from many of his colleagues.
        But beyond the simple day-to-day frustration sits a broader, and substantially more significant problem: Republicans are staring at control of both chambers of Congress and White House, with an ambitious agenda conservatives have waited for years to try and implement.
        Each day spent answering questions is about the FBI director, or a meeting with Russian officials, or the firing of Michael Flynn, is a day not spent on tax reform, or health care, or remaking the judiciary with new appointments.
        Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, never one to speak without keenly weighing his words, made the same statement twice on Tuesday: “I think it would be helpful to have less drama emanating from the White House,” he told reporters.
        McConnell batted away questions about whether he had lost confidence in the President or whether he could no longer trust the President in handling intelligence with the same clear “No.”
        But his overarching point was an understated, yet notable statement being repeated in one iteration or another by lawmakers and aides alike — an ambitious agenda will, at some point, depend on the President to pull it across the finish line, with help from the White House welcome.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/16/politics/white-house-trump-gop-capitol-hill/index.html

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        Nancy Pelosi: Trump sharing classified info would be ‘very, very damaging’

        Washington (CNN)House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said if President Donald Trump revealed intelligence from a US ally to Russian officials, it would be “very, very damaging.”

        Pelosi made her comments at a CNN town hall Monday evening moderated by anchor Chris Cuomo in the wake of a Washington Post report citing current and former US officials saying Trump revealed highly classified information in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last week.
        “It undermines the trust that we would have with our allies,” Pelosi said.
          National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster pushed back on the report from the White House Monday evening, saying, “I was in the room. It didn’t happen.”
          Pelosi said McMaster’s response was not satisfactory.
          “I thought that the statement of McMaster’s was sad for him, for him to be able to come out and speak in that way,” Pelosi said.
          She also knocked Trump for his “messy” approach to secret government information.
          “We cannot have the President of the United States being casually loose-lipped about confirming something, even if it’s in the public domain, to an adversarial nation,” Pelosi said. “This is dangerous.”

          Russia questions

          Pelosi said the news of Trump sharing classified information with Russian officials was just the latest story that made her demand more information about any connections between the President and Russia.
          “As Yogi Berra said, ‘It’s too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence,'” Pelosi said. “You have to be careful because this is its own incident, but it’s about Russia.”
          She said there needed to be an independent investigation to look into questions of financial, political and personal connections between Trump and Russia.
          “Every day I ask the question: What do the Russians have on Donald Trump?” Pelosi said. “He’s always catering to them.”
          The US intelligence community said Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election to hurt Hillary Clinton and boost Trump’s candidacy. Former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired last week, said in March that the bureau was investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
          Trump and those associated with his campaign have denied any collusion.
          Pelosi also warned her fellow Democrats against promoting hearsay on this matter, and said Democrats discussing impeachment were doing so without any case to make.
          “I don’t subscribe to that,” Pelosi said of impeachment. “What are the facts? … If you don’t have that case, you’re just participating in more hearsay.”

          Health care

          A 26-year-old member of the audience, Kati McFarland, said she was diagnosed with a incurable genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and could die if the protections of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, were repealed and replaced with the American Health Care Act, the bill Trump endorsed and the House passed earlier this month.
          McFarland asked Pelosi what she would do to protect health care access for those with pre-existing conditions and others who had received health care under Obamacare.
          Pelosi lambasted the GOP health care bill in response.
          “The whole point right now is to defeat that bill,” Pelosi said. “This is a death panel bill because people will die.”
          The Congressional Budget Office said it will have an assessment later this month of the version of the AHCA passed by the House.
          Its assessment of an earlier version of the bill said that by 2026, 52 million people would be uninsured. The CBO said 28 million would be uninsured by 2026 if Obamacare remained the law of the land.
          Pelosi said Obamacare had “good bones,” meaning structurally the law was sound, though she admitted it could still be improved.

          War on drugs

          Norman Brown, who served 20 years in prison for drug crimes before former President Barack Obama commuted his sentence, asked Pelosi what she would do to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from rolling back Obama-era reforms to the Department of Justice.
          Pelosi cited previous bills to reduce disparities between crack and powder cocaine sentences, which critics said unfairly targeted people of color. She said those kind of past experiences indicated bipartisan opposition to hard-line sentencing for non-violent drug crimes.
          “I think that we will work together in a bipartisan way,” Pelosi said.
          Last week, Sessions issued a memorandum directing federal prosecutors to seek the toughest possible sentences in drug cases.
          “What the attorney general did was irresponsible,” Pelosi said.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/15/politics/nancy-pelosi-cnn-town-hall/index.html