ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

clear-day
76°
Mostly Cloudy
H 89° L 69°
  • clear-day
    76°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 89° L 69°
  • cloudy-day
    86°
    Evening
    Mostly Cloudy. H 89° L 69°
  • cloudy-day
    70°
    Morning
    Mostly Cloudy. H 84° L 62°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
Senate Republicans release details of GOP health overhaul bill
Close

Senate Republicans release details of GOP health overhaul bill

Senate Republicans release details of GOP health overhaul bill
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Senate Republicans release details of GOP health overhaul bill

After weeks of closed door negotiations, Senate Republicans on Thursday released their plan to overhaul the Obama health law, as GOP leaders again signaled they are ready to push ahead with a vote in the full Senate as early as next week.

The 142 page bill - labeled a 'discussion draft' - was posted online by the GOP, as the Senate Majority Leader made clear he's ready to move forward.

(Here is a summary put out by the GOP on the new Senate bill.)

"Obamacare isn't working - by any nearly any measure it has failed," said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said action is needed now by the Congress.

Democrats immediately denounced the plan.

"It's every bit as bad a the House bill," said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. "In some ways, it's worse."

"I think it's a good proposal overall," said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), trailed by a pack of reporters as he left a closed door meeting of GOP Senators where the health plan was rolled out.

"It's the first time that we've really looked at it as far as the details are concerned," McCain added.

Like McCain, many other GOP Senators had little to say about the details of the plan, having just seen them a few minutes earlier in their meeting.

"The bill is on line for all of you to read," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who was mobbed by reporters for comment.

Jamie Dupree
Close

health104

Jamie Dupree

As for what's in the GOP plan - here are some of the emerging details:

1. The plan seems to mirror what's been approved in the House. Yes, there are differences in how Senate Republicans would change provisions of the Obama health law, but the basics of the Senate plan are familiar. "In broad strokes, the Senate bill is just like the House," said Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, who has been a critic of GOP efforts on health care.

2. List of "Essential health benefits" for Medicaid coverage would be phased out. This is part of a two pronged effort by Republicans to make it easier to offer health coverage that does not cover all ten of the "essential health benefits" under the Obama health law - policies that require insurance companies to offer health policies that cover ten different categories of coverage, from maternity care to lab services, hospitalization, emergency care, wellness and more. This provision would end those requirements after 2019, allowing states to determine what insurance companies should cover after that date. Backers argue that will allow less expensive plans to be sold to consumers, which don't cover as many items.

Jamie Dupree
Close

health106

Jamie Dupree

3. Individual mandate penalty set a $0, made retroactive for taxpayers. Like the House bill, the Senate GOP health plan effectively gets rid of the penalty for not having health insurance coverage, as it sets the penalty at $0. But the fine print also says that provision is effect after December 31, 2015 - which means it would cover the 2016 tax year. That would seem to mean that people who paid a fine associated with their 2016 taxes could get that fine refunded.

Jamie Dupree
Close

health107

Jamie Dupree

4. Senate GOP plan also repeals Obamacare taxes. The GOP plan repeals a battery of taxes associated with the Obama health law, repealing the tax on health savings accounts, a tax on medical devices, a Medicare tax increase for higher income earners, the so-called tanning tax, and more. Some of the repeal dates are different, depending on the tax involved - for example, the medical device tax would be ended and the end of 2017, the tanning tax would end September 30, 2017, the net investment tax would be gone as of the end of 2016. Democrats say it's nothing but a giant tax cut for the rich.

5. No, this is not a repeal of Obamacare. Because this health overhaul effort is being done through the expedited process known as "budget reconciliation," it is not possible for Republicans to simply repeal the entire Affordable Care Act. Instead, this plan uses the basic structures of the Obama health law, but makes some dramatic changes along the way. Because it is not a true repeal plan, there is some heartburn in conservative circles about the details of this. But it's really the best option that Republicans have at this point, since they do not have 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster on a regular piece of legislation.

6. The protests didn't take long to start. Opponents of the GOP plan were already making their voices heard on Capitol Hill, just minutes after the details were released of the Senate Republican plan. The outcome here hinges entirely on Republicans in the Senate - if they can hold 50 votes together, then the GOP will be able to get this approved as early as next week. But because their majority is only 52-48, it would only take three GOP Senators to hold things up. It promises to be a loud next week on Capitol Hill.

7. No immediate Congressional Budget Office cost estimate. While there had been talk that the CBO would weigh in on the new Senate GOP health plan as early as tomorrow, the CBO announced early this afternoon that nothing should be expected until "early next week." That's important, because under Senate rules, there must be a CBO cost estimate before a vote on a reconciliation bill.

Already a handful of Republicans are not on board with the plan, as Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) have put out a statement indicating they don't like the GOP plan - on the other end of the spectrum, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) don't like provisions dealing with Planned Parenthood.

Still, Republicans I've talked to who support the bill feel like momentum is with them; we'll see in coming days.

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he is running for president. >> PREVIOUS STORY: Joe Biden to announce 2020 presidential bid Thursday, reports say The Delaware Democrat made his candidacy official in an online campaign video Thursday morning.  >> Watch the video here “The core values of this nation … our standing in the world … our very democracy ... everything that has made America – America – is at stake,” Biden tweeted at 6 a.m. Thursday. “That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.” >> See the tweet here Biden also unveiled his campaign website. Check it out here.  Here are the latest updates: Update 8:24 a.m. EDT April 25: President Donald Trump responded to Biden’s announcement in a tweet Thursday morning. “Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe,” Trump tweeted. “I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty – you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!” >> See the tweet here Update 7:07 a.m. EDT April 25: Former President Barack Obama’s spokeswoman released a statement early Thursday following Biden’s announcement. “President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said. “He relied on the Vice President’s knowledge, insight and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.” >> See the statement here Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., endorsed Biden in a statement. “We are at a crucial moment in our history,” Coons’ statement read. “We need leaders who will bring us together instead of tearing us apart, who will focus on the real issues facing American families, and who will restore the United States’ role in the world as a force for stability, freedom and human rights. Joe Biden is that leader, and I’m proud to endorse him for President of the United States.” >> Read the statement here U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., also endorsed Biden. “At this make-or-break moment for our middle class, our children and our workers, America needs Vice President Joe Biden to be its next President,” the statement read. “Joe Biden has spent a lifetime fighting battles on behalf of hardworking Americans while ensuring America’s values and interests are represented abroad. As both a U.S. Senator and our Vice President, he has delivered results for the middle class, kept our country safe and strengthened our standing in the world.” >> Read the full statement here Original story: A fundraiser for Biden, who is originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania, also is scheduled Thursday evening in Philadelphia, Politico reported Tuesday.  On Monday, Biden, 76, will make an appearance at a Pittsburgh union hall for his first campaign event, NBC News reported. >> Is Joe Biden running for president in 2020? Biden, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1988 and 2008. This time, he joins a packed field of 20 Democratic candidates vying to take on Republican President Donald Trump. Biden consistently has performed well in recent polls. In a national survey of Democrats released by Monmouth University this week, Biden led the field with 27% support, The Hill reported. He's also leading the Democratic pack in the RealClearPolitics polling average, with 29% support.  >> Read more trending news  But the Monmouth poll found that Biden's favorability rating dropped from 76% in March to to 72% this month, according to The Hill. The drop came as multiple women came forward to accuse him of inappropriate contact. >> Joe Biden responds after multiple women accuse him of inappropriate behavior 'I will be more mindful and respectful of people's personal space, and that's a good thing, that's a good thing,” he said earlier this month. “I’ve worked my whole life to empower women. I've worked my whole life to prevent abuse, I've written, and so the idea that I can't adjust to the fact that personal space is important – more important than it's ever been – is just not thinkable. I will. I will.”
  • Several mail bins filled with packs of playing cards were stacked in the office of the Washington state senator who made comments about nurses playing cards on the job. According to a news release, about 1,700 decks of cards from nurses across the country were delivered to Sen. Maureen Walsh's office. Last week, Walsh, a Republican representing College Place, Washington, made the comments while debating a Senate bill that would require uninterrupted meal and rest breaks for nurses. Related: Sen. Maureen Walsh apologizes for remarks about nurses in rural hospitals 'playing cards' On Wednesday, House Bill 1155 passed the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Walsh apologized for her comments.  >> Read more trending news  “I wish I could take my words back, but the issue remains important,” she said. “Our critical access hospitals serve an important role in smaller communities across the state. Many already are operating in the red, and this could put them under.” Walsh’s office has received 10,000 emails and more than 35,000 phone calls since last Friday. More than 650,000 people signed online petitions demanding Walsh shadow a nurse for a 12-hour shift. – The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
  • Highway workers on State Road 29 near Interstate 75, in LaBelle spotted an endangered Florida panther trapped on the wrong side of the highway fence Monday. It happened near the LaBelle Nature Park.  A team of Florida Fish and Wildlife officers responded to get the big cat back to safety. Luckily the panther responded to claps and whistles from FWC Officer Rubenstein and a helpful motorist. The officers  body camera caught the whole thing on video. App users click here to watch the video. The effort was a success and the panther eventually ran through an open gate back to safety.  MYFWC posted the video on their Facebook page and one interesting response came from a Titusville man who said he saw a panther in his neighborhood  Robert Colbert said his 110 pound doberman could smell the cat and was pacing his fence line.  Colbert lives on Fox Lake rd in Titusville.
  • Supported by both President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, HB 527 passed through the house Wednesday and is now up for debate in the Senate. The legislation would crackdown on cities and counties for non-cooperation with federal immigration authorities in arresting and detaining known undocumented immigrants. State officials could fine offenders up to $5,000 a day.  It is now up to the Senate to send the legislation onto the Governor’s desk. Florida’s Senate is a more moderate chamber and opponents who believe only undocumented violent offenders should be detained are expected to voice their opinions. Regardless, Republican leaders believe they have the votes to pass the law which, if signed  by  Governor DeSantis,  would take effect July 1, 2019.

Washington Insider

  • As President Donald Trump on Wednesday once more called for Congress to change America's laws dealing with illegal immigration, threatening again to close part of the Mexican border, and vowing to send more armed soldiers to help stop illegal immigrants trying to enter the United States, there was no evidence that Republicans in the Senate - or Democrats in the House - were ready to launch any legislative drive to help deal with the tide of migrants. In a speech at an opioids conference in Atlanta on Tuesday, the President again appealed for action to change what he said were 'horrible, obsolete, weak, pathetic, immigration laws.' 'And that's why I've declared a national emergency, which is exactly what it is,' Mr. Trump added. 'Our facilities are at full capacity,' Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said earlier this week, as he echoed the President's call for lawmakers to help deal with those coming across the border illegally. 'Congress must act with additional authorities, resources & tools in order to accomplish our humanitarian & security mission,' the new DHS chief tweeted. Earlier this week, the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said he was putting the final touches on an immigration package to be presented to his father in coming days. But there was no indication of whether that plan would be presented to Congress for action, of it would serve as only a partial guide for lawmakers on the politically sensitive subject. “We desperately need some immigration legislation,' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Fox News earlier this month.  'It is finally time for us to step up and not only solve the crisis at the border, but do some changes to immigration laws that are sensible,' the Kentucky Republican added, saying it's time to end 'years of gridlock' on immigration matters. At this point though in the halls of the Congress, there is no indication that lawmakers will be voting on any immigration plan anytime soon. For obvious reasons, Democrats aren't interested in taking the lead for the President on immigration legislation, pointing back to early 2018, when a bipartisan Senate group seemingly reached an immigration deal which was acceptable to President Trump - only to watch him quickly tack away. 'The President put forth his criteria. He had the Senate Republicans and Democrats come together, proposed something to him and then he walked away from it,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Back in February 2018, the President's preferred immigration plan garnered only 39 votes, with 13 GOP Senators refusing to support Mr. Trump's nearly $100 billion package. That plan featured money to build a border wall, an end to chain migration, stopping a visa lottery, and a number of other immigration law changes desired by the President. But it won the votes of only three Democrats, mainly because it did not do enough to help younger illegal immigrant 'Dreamers' in the country under the DACA program. The House and Senate are currently out on a two week break for Easter; immigration legislation is not on the agenda in either legislative body at this point.