The New Yorker Magazine had an article on how and why U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was fired because of his investigation into Secretary Price. Bharara met with Trump at Trump Tower.  When Bharara left the meeting, he informed reporters that the president-elect had asked if he were willing to remain in his post, and that he had answered in the affirmative.  Then suddenly Trump asked Bharara and 45 other U.S. Attorneys to resign. Bharara refused to tender his resignation. He was then fired.

Bharara announced his unemployment on Twitter, and then posted this enigmatic remark:

Bharara’s implication, then, was that his office was investigating something that the White House preferred to keep quiet. The former U.S. Attorney was overseeing an investigation of Health Secretary Tom Price’s stock trades prior to his firing, according to a source who spoke with ProPublica.

In December, the The Wall Street Journal reported that the former congressman had traded more than $300,000 worth of stock in health companies over a four-year period — during which he pushed legislation that could have benefited those companies.

Since then, three of Price’s trades have drawn heightened scrutiny:

(1) In March 2016, Price bought $15,000 worth of stock in Zimmer Biomet, a medical-device company. Two days later, the congressman introduced a bill that would have protected that company from a cut in its Medicare reimbursement rate. Zimmer Biomet then put money in his campaign coffers.

(2) That same month, Price purchased thousands of dollars worth of stock in six pharmaceutical companies — and then led a legislative and public-relations effort to defeat regulations that would have (almost certainly) hurt those companies’s profits.

(3) Last summer, Price made a bulk purchase of discounted shares in Innate Immuno, an Australian biotechnology company. Shortly thereafter, he helped push through legislation that expedites the FDA’s approval process — a reform that directly benefits Innate Immuno, which is working to get its wares onto the U.S. market. Price has already enjoyed a 400 percent paper gain on his investment in the company.

The Wall Street Journal found that “the cabinet nominee was one of fewer than 20 U.S. investors who were invited last year to buy discounted shares of the company — an opportunity that, for Mr. Price, arose from an invitation from a company director and fellow congressman.”

In January, Democratic Representative Louise Slaughter asked the SEC to investigate Price’s trades, arguing that there was reason to suspect that he had violated the STOCK Act — a 2012 law that bars members of Congress from using nonpublic information for personal profit.

Bharara’s office was also reportedly investigating Fox News for an array of potential crimes, including whether the network’s executives committed wire fraud by allegedly hiding financial settlements paid to women who had accused Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.

Margaret Hartmann wrote an excellent article in New Yorker Magazine about the search for a scapegoat for Trumpcare now that the Congressional Budget Office states that 24 million people will lose health coverage by 2026 under the Republican health-care. More and more Republicans are coming out against the current version of the legislation — and pointing fingers at each other.  The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that at least a dozen Senate Republicans, “including some who had previously kept a low profile in the health debate,” have expressed serious doubts about the legislation making its way through the House. The report poured cold water on the theory that passage in the House would build enough momentum to get the AHCA though the Senate.

The most obvious target is the man behind the bill; Breitbart’s escalating attacks on House Speaker Paul Ryan have added fuel to suspicions that chief strategist Steve Bannon hasn’t given up on his goal of ending Ryan’s career.

Breitbart is far from the only conservative outlet bashing “Ryancare.” Newsmax chief executive Christopher Ruddy even published a piece urging President Trump to abandon the current bill.

According to the Huffington Post, Republicans may already be giving up on getting AHCA passed in the Senate.

“The focus of House leadership has been more about getting a bill out of the House that is unchanged and in keeping with the Better Way plan, instead of truly seeing to potential roadblocks that exist in the House and Senate,” said a Republican House member.

“The question people should be looking at is whether Republican senators like Tom Cotton and Rand Paul are actually interested in repealing Obamacare, or whether they’re sabotaging this to preserve the Medicaid expansion in their states,” said the aide. “These senators masquerading with conservative objections are too afraid to admit they want to keep Obamacare.”

Of course, as President Trump has stated several times, the Republicans’ preferred “Plan B” is to keep blaming Senate Democrats. As the Huffington Post notes, there’s a major flaw in that strategy:

If Trump and some Republicans now think their best course of action is to do nothing and continue blaming problems with the health-care system on Democrats, then perhaps the best cover they can offer their members is to move a GOP bill out of the House, watch it die in the Senate, and then spend the next two years blaming Senate Democrats in states that Trump won.

In that scenario, voters fail to recognize that Republicans have the power to pass this bill without a single Democratic vote, and the ire over Obamacare doesn’t dissipate even though voters have seen the GOP alternative.

Will voters remember that Trump promised an Obamacare replacement “that’s going to be better health care for more people at a lesser cost,” then failed to put much energy into crafting that plan? Maybe, but blaming other people for his mistakes happens to be one of his strong suits.

A new poll released yesterday brought more bad news for GOP leaders trying to garner enough Republican support to pass the American Health Care Act.

Just 17% of voters support the AHCA, according to the Quinnipiac University poll, while 56% disapprove of the proposal.

White voters without college degrees disapprove of the AHCA by a stunning 26-point margin. Just 22% of those voters support the bill, compared to 48% who oppose the legislation.

The AHCA doesn’t even garner a majority support from Republican voters, with just 41% saying they support the law.

Overall, nearly two-thirds of voters — or 61% — disapprove of the way Trump is handling health care, according to the poll.

46% of voters said they’d be less likely to vote for a representative who supported the AHCA.

The New Yorker Magazine had a cynical yet plausible explanation of Trump’s hot and cold support of Trumpcare.  Republicans have made two promises that can’t be reconciled. They promised to repeal Obamacare, and to replace it with a terrific law that would take care of everybody. As the House Republican ad put it, they promised, “more choices and better care, at lower costs. … peace of mind to people with preexisting conditions … without disrupting existing coverage.” Those things cannot be reconciled. If Republicans repeal Obamacare, they will put in place something that not only fails to provide the better, cheaper care they have promised the country, but does not meet even the minimal threshold of access to basic care for people who currently receive it.

Politico and CNN reported that Trump has a fallback plan: Let Obamacare fail on its own, blame the Democrats , and push another Republican health-care plan two years from now.

In remarks at the Republican retreat CPAC, and on Twitter, Trump mentioned that the smartest political move would be to do nothing to improve the health-care system. Apparently that is his plan based on Trumpcare.

“I actually talked with Paul [Ryan] and the group about just doing nothing for two years, and the Dems would come begging to do something because ’17 is going to be catastrophic price increases, your deductibles are through the roof, you can’t use them, and they will come to us,” Trump said at the annual GOP retreat in Philadelphia.

 “I’m serious if we waited two years it’s going to explode like you’ve never seen an explosion,” he said. “That’s politically what we should do but we don’t want to do that.”

So Trump is betting that after promising to repeal and replace Obamacare immediately, backing a bill everyone hates, failing to make members of his own party pass it, then doing nothing for two years as Americans go broke and even die, the country is going to blame Democrats for failing to fix the health-care system.

From that standpoint, the winning play for the GOP might be to try to repeal and replace Obamacare but fail. If they are seen trying and failing to repeal the law, it might upset the base, but most Republican lawmakers will have their opposition to Obamacare on the record. And if it is to fail, it should fail quickly, so they can move on to increasing the deficit by cutting taxes.

Bob Doherty, senior vice president for government affairs at the American College of Physicians, the trade group for internists and the second-largest association of doctors in America, is taking a different approach on Twitter, blasting the bill as the worst measure he’s seen in nearly 40 years of advocacy work.

Doherty warns of “thousands of preventable deaths” if the bill passes (which checks out), as 28 million people lose coverage. He also makes the point that the long-term health consequences of the bill could be even more severe, as older people who lose insurance coverage due to skyrocketing premiums “will put off getting care until diseases are at more advanced, less treatable, & costly stage.”

In 38 years advocating for doctors, patients I’ve never seen a bill that will do more harm to health than bill being voted on Thursday

It will take coverage from millions of most vulnerable: the poor,sick & old. It will raise premiums & deductibles by thousands of $.

It will make the opioid epidemic worse by ending requirement that Medicaid cover substance use treatment.

It cuts Medicaid funding by 25%; states will have no choice but to cut coverage & benefits and/or raise taxes, cut provider pay.

It cuts funding to @CDC to prevent spread of infectious diseases like flu and Zika.

Proposed work requirement for Medicaid punishes those who can’t work because they are sick, have mental health conditions, are caregivers

Or because there are no jobs.

It will cause people to forgo doctor visits, and prevention /screening tests and not keep up with medications.

They will put off getting care until diseases are at more advanced, less treatable & more costly stage.

Lives are at stake: loss of coverage associated with thousands of preventable deaths.

This bill has to be stopped. Call Congress today. 2022243121. Urge them to vote against . Don’t wait. Vote is on Thursday.

Trumpcare Facts:

The plan would hit older and rural Americans hardest because it wouldn’t provide a larger tax credit to people with more expensive plans.

The plan would reduce Medicaid spending by $880 billion, though Trump repeatedly promised no cuts to the program when battling his primary opponents.

Tucker Carlson raised this point with President Trump during a Fox News interview. “I know that, I know,” the president said, as the host cited Bloomberg’s finding that Trump-supporting counties would be hammered. “It’s very preliminary.”

“This isn’t consistent with the message of the last election,” Carlson said. “No, a lot of things aren’t consistent,” Trump acknowledged.

Eugene Robinson wrote a great article for PennLive about the myth of Republicans as the party of fiscal responsibility. The Republican Congress is pushing Trumpcare before the Congressional Budget Office has had a chance to estimate how much the measure will cost.

“It’s time to put an end to the myth that Republicans believe in fiscal responsibility. Saving taxpayer dollars takes a back seat to the ideological imperative of blaming and shaming the poor.”

“When you ask Republicans what they’re going to cut, they mention foreign aid — which totals about $35 billion, or slightly less than 1 percent of federal spending.

They threaten to eviscerate smaller agencies by cutting $6 billion here or $8 billion there — but at the same time, they applaud Trump’s pledge to increase the $600 billion defense budget by an incredible 10 percent.

They’re going to end up spending more — perhaps lots more — and collecting less in tax revenue. And this is the party that claims to care about deficits and debt?

But wait, Republicans say, we’re going to “save” the big entitlement programs by trimming benefits. Yeah, sure. I’m not holding my breath.

The problem is that Medicare and Social Security serve middle-class and upper-crust taxpayers, including many who share the GOP’s punish-the-poor belief system. If you think these ACA-focused town halls are hostile, just you wait.

The fact is that among recent administrations, at least, Democratic presidents have been the relative skinflints. Bill Clinton, you will recall, actually balanced the budget — and yes, he had help from Republicans in Congress.

Barack Obama spent heavily at first to save the economy, which was teetering on the edge of a dreadful abyss, but he ended up slashing the deficit in half and presiding over years of uninterrupted economic growth.

George W. Bush, on the other hand, fought hugely expensive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without accounting for them in his budgets.

He also convinced Congress to expand Medicare to cover prescription drugs, which was compassionate but costly.

Trump promises to be even more of a big spender. Among other things, he promises a trillion-dollar program to renew the nation’s infrastructure. Imagine the Republican howling if Obama had suggested such a thing.

The GOP will surely persist in its sanctimony about balanced budgets, but no one should pay any attention. Republicans, we see what you’re doing.”

According to a report in Politico, the number of GOP governors who have “expressed strong support” for their party’s plan is exactly zero, while 15 have voiced varying concerns.  Republican governors object to Medicaid federal allotments to the states limited by a per capita cap. Unfortunately, Trumpcare has the spending cuts without the flexibility.

 As Health Affairs notes, AHCA may actually be more prescriptive than the status quo, micromanaging several types of beneficiaries the authors do not want to receive coverage (e.g., lottery winners, the undocumented, those with home equity over a certain amount), without some general grant of flexibility.

The sought-after flexibility isn’t there:

The combination of federal funding reductions and the retention of the program’s comprehensive legal requirements would, in effect, create a perfect storm for states. While it is possible that some of these requirements could be eased by the Trump Administration using its section 1115 waiver authority, section 1115 is actually a limited research and demonstration statute, not a tool for wholesale statutory re-design simply to create new state flexibility. Furthermore, certain Medicaid provisions, such as premium and cost-sharing rules, are by and large excluded from the scope of 1115.

The GOP governors have noticed this disrespect from the authors of AHCA:

“Flexibility” has become a buzzword among governors critical of the bill. Baker, Snyder, Arizona’s Doug Ducey, Tennessee’s Bill Haslam, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Nevada’s Brian Sandoval say there is work to be done on the bill to ensure it grants the states the flexibility they need.

“The plan that was released doesn’t reflect what the governors want, which is flexibility,” Ducey told a local radio station in Phoenix. “I want flexibility at the state level to improve our health care system, to make these reforms. This is still prescriptive from Washington, D.C.”

Meanwhile, the Republican governors of Ohio, Nevada, Michigan, and Arkansas jointly declared their opposition to the bill, in a letter to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Like the Senate moderates, John Kasich and company want to preserve the increased level of federal funding that Obamacare provides Medicaid recipients — and, if cutbacks are needed, to limit eligibility rather than reducing reimbursements.

In other words: The governors don’t want Paul Ryan to take away the free money that’s keeping their low-income residents insured and their hospitals paid.

While governors, obviously, won’t get a vote on the AHCA, Republican senators from expansion states are subject to similar pressures. And on Friday afternoon, Nevada’s Dean Heller said he stands with his governor.