Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday that House Republicans are still considering a repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate as part of their tax bill. "We have an active conversation with our members and a whole host of ideas on things to add to this bill. And that’s one of the things that’s being discussed," Ryan said on Fox News. President Trump touted the idea in a tweet last week, and Sens. Tom Cotton and Rand Paul have recently spoken in favor of using the tax bill to eliminate the mandate. The move would save the government $416 billion over 10 years as roughly 15 million people go without insurance due to lower spending on subsidies and health care services, according to the CBO. Those savings could be appealing as Republicans look for revenues in their revised tax bill. But if the controversial repeal of the mandate isn’t included in the tax bill, the White House is reportedly ready to roll out an executive order weakening the requirement that taxpayers provide proof of insurance to avoid paying a penalty.
The federal budget deficit rose by 16 percent in the first nine months of the 2018 fiscal year, which began last October. The shortfall came to $607 billion, compared to $523 billion in the same period the year before, according to a U.S. Treasury report released Thursday and reported by Bloomberg. Both revenue and spending rose, but spending rose faster. Revenues came to $2.54 trillion, up 1.3 percent from the same nine-month period in 2017, while spending came to $3.15 trillion, up 3.9 percent.
Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner sent a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma requesting that they “immediately release the funding details for the Navigator program for the upcoming open enrollment period for 2019.” Navigators are the state and local groups that help people sign up for Affordable Care Act plans.
“In years past, grant applications and new funding opportunities were released by CMS in April, CMS required Navigator organizations to apply by June and approved applications and new funding by late August,” Pennsylvania’s Jessica Altman wrote. “The current lack of guidance has put Navigator organizations – and states - far behind in their planning and creates an inability for the Navigator organizations to design a successful plan for helping people enroll during the 2019 open enrollment period.”
U.S. fertility rates have fallen to record lows for two straight years. “Because the fertility rate subtly shapes many major issues of the day — including immigration, education, housing, the labor supply, the social safety net and support for working families — there’s a lot of concern about why today’s young adults aren’t having as many children,” Claire Cain Miller explains at The New York Times’ Upshot. “So we asked them.”
Here are some results of the Times’ survey, conducted with Morning Consult. Read the full Times story for more details.
Gallup says that, for the first time in the 18 years it’s been asking U.S. adults how proud they are to be Americans, fewer than half say they are "extremely proud." Just 47 percent now say they’re extremely proud, down from 70 percent in 2003.
Another 25 percent say they’re “very proud” — but the combined 72 percent who say they’re extremely or very proud is also the lowest Gallup has recorded. Pride levels among liberals and Democrats have plunged since 2017. Overall, 74 percent of Republicans and just 32 percent of Democrats call themselves “extremely proud” to be American.