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National Govt & Politics
With late deals, House Republicans set Thursday vote on GOP health bill
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With late deals, House Republicans set Thursday vote on GOP health bill

With late deals, House Republicans set Thursday vote on GOP health bill
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

With late deals, House Republicans set Thursday vote on GOP health bill

After a flurry of negotiations that secured the support of key lawmakers, Republicans in the House declared Wednesday night that they had cobbled together just enough votes to pass a major health overhaul bill, as GOP leaders set a Thursday vote on the measure, aiming to deliver a legislative victory for their party and the White House.

"We will pass this," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, as he walked through a throng of reporters waiting outside the office of Speaker Paul Ryan, saying the votes would be there.

"I don't claim to be the best health care policy expert in the country," said Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA), "but I know that doing nothing is not acceptable."

The latest change was spurred by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), an influential moderate who had come out against the bill on Tuesday, but suddenly spun together a plan that drew the support of the White House, setting up an $8 billion fund to help bolster high risk pools - in states that get a waiver from current requirements under the Obama health law - to assist those with pre-existing conditions and other insurance troubles.

"It strengthens the American Health Care Act by reaffirming our commitment to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, something I've always cared about," Upton said late on Wednesday night.

But critics charged that the Upton plan was not focused solely on those with pre-existing conditions, as the $8 billion could be used to help people pay for health insurance for a variety of reasons.

The $8 billion for Upton's plan was the latest infusion of money into this GOP measure, along with $15 billion extra that was added last month, plus a $130 billion 'state stability fund' to help with insurance costs for consumers.

Democrats denounced the GOP changes to the bill, and the move for a quick vote on Thursday, saying there had been no hearings on the changes made to the plan, and pointing out there was no cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

"Republicans should just disband CBO," said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). "If you don't require a cost estimate on this monstrosity, what's the point of CBO?"

"Every Republican who votes for Trumpcare will have it tattooed on their forehead," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who vowed that GOP lawmakers "will be held accountable."

Other Democrats chimed in with their opposition on social media, while Republicans were nearly silent about the health care vote.

While some Republicans acknowledged that the GOP health plan might have some warts, they said it was the right move to make.

"Those people that say this is a good system - come to my state," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK). "We're down to a single provider," as Cole mocked the original claims of the Obama health law.

"I remember 'if you like your plan, you could keep it,'" Cole said. "Not true."

A vote is expected by early afternoon in the House.

If you are looking to "read the bill" - that is sort of hard to do, as the GOP has put out changes to the original plan, but has not published the amended version, as you can see from this posting on a House website that details some of the changes:

Jamie Dupree
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health115

Jamie Dupree

Here is the base text of the GOP health bill, before the additions of the last six weeks.

Among the major changes in the GOP bill:

+ The bill does *not* repeal the Obama health law; it is an overhaul of parts of the law.


+ Allows states to alter certain requirements of the Obama health law (essential health benefits, community rating) in the hopes of allowing the sale of insurance plans that are less robust, thus bringing down the cost of insurance policies


+ Allows states to set up high risk pools to help deal with higher premium costs for people with pre-existing conditions


+ Takes away the subsidies for people in the health care exchanges, and replaces that with a new refundable tax credit


+ Sets up various funds totaling over $150 billion to help states offset higher insurance costs


+ Eliminates penalties for not buying insurance (individual and employer mandate)


+ Reduces Medicaid spending in the Obama health law by $880 billion over 10 years


+ Eliminates about $1 trillion in a variety of taxes under the Obama health law

There is no cost estimate available for the bill from the Congressional Budget Office. It is not clear how much the plan would save in terms of the budget – maybe less than $100 billion over 10 years, when compared to current law.

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Local News

  • Georgia’s first lady Marty Kemp toured the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at the University of Georgia on Feb. 18, along with her daughter Lucy Kemp, UGA President Jere W. Morehead and several others. Kemp, who has loved animals ever since getting her first horse, Flare, at a young age, is no stranger to the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine hospital. In 2006, she brought in a foal named Loula, who had reared up, fallen back and broken her tailbone. “It made her drag her left back leg,” recalled Kemp. “The vet came and said you need to get this foal to the vet school immediately or she’s going to die.” They brought her in and she was there for five or six weeks. Kemp would come and see her every day. During her stay at the teaching hospital, her care team discovered that the foal had a blood disorder, one that would have killed her if she hadn’t been brought in for the tailbone. Today, Loula is alive and well on the Kemps’ farm. Horses are her therapy, said Kemp. “I can tell them things and they won’t tell anyone,” she laughed. “I certainly wouldn’t have made it through politics without them. Anybody who loves horses knows exactly what I’m talking about. Whatever stress you have, they take care of it. That’s the beauty of them.” Kemp has also brought two animals to zoological medicine: a bunny she rescued from the mouth of one of the family’s Labradors, and a duck that had died. The tour led Kemp through the small animal teaching hospital, where she got to meet a puppy about to undergo surgery, and the zoological medicine area, where a giant anaconda was being treated. It also included the parts of the hospital used for diagnostic imaging, the food animal treatment center, and the equine performance arena, where horses are checked for lameness and other ailments. Kemp was impressed by how the teaching hospital has grown since her tenure as a student at UGA. “It’s ramped up about 100 times since I was here,” she said. “What’s going on here, is just awesome.” Currently, the Kemps have three dogs, a barn cat, two sheep, a goat, four horses and two chickens. “I’ve been kind of low on animals recently, though Brian would say no, but we used to have a lot more.” One her daughter Lucy recalled with particular fondness is a goat named Kenny Chesney. When the human Chesney was in town, Lucy and her mother saw the tour bus downtown and relayed the fact of their goat’s name to Chesney’s people. They asked her to bring the goat to them, so they did, and Chesney himself got off the tour bus to meet the goat and Lucy Kemp. Lucy, a senior in high school and also a lover of animals, is interested in UGA’s veterinary medicine program. Kemp is still in the process of working out what she wants to focus on during her tenure as first lady of Georgia, though she is certain animal welfare will play a role because it is a cause so dear to her heart.     
  • Mississippi State scratched out the win at Georgia on Wednesday night in the battle of Bulldogs by a 68-67 count at Stegeman Coliseum. Mississippi State won the game at the free-throw line within the final second. Quinndary Weatherspoon made one of three free-throw attempts with 0.5 seconds left after he was fouled by Jordan Harris on his shot attempt. Weatherspoon was granted an extra free-throw attempt via a technical called on UGA because a fan threw an item on the court. Mississippi State used a 19-0 run to pull away in the final stages of the first half and opening minutes of the second half before the crowd of 7,153. Coach Ben Howland’s team came from 25-23 down to take a commanding 42-25 lead on Weatherspoon’s drive at the 18:31 mark. Georgia (10-16, 1-12 SEC) roared back, tying the game 67-67 on Tyree Crump's 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds left.  UGA couldn't finish the job, dropping its seventh consecutive, dating to the 98-88 win over Texas on Jan. 26. Weatherspoon scored a career-high 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting for Mississippi State (19-7, 7-6 SEC), including a pair of free throws with 15.6 seconds left to give his team a 67-64 cushion. UGA star Nicolas Claxton, who entered the night one of five Division I players leading his team in all five major statistical categories, finished with nine points and nine rebounds. Claxton didn’t score his first points until the 3:54 mark, giving Georgia a 24-20 lead. Moments later, Claxton committed his second foul, and coach Tom Crean made what proved to be a critical decision to take him out of the game, contributing to the key MSU run. Mississippi State held a 36-25 lead at halftime, breaking away with the 16-1, including 13-0, run the final 3:16. Weatherspoon led the charge, scoring 12 of those 16 points as Mississippi State made its final seven shots of the first half. Georgia committed four of its seven opening-half turnovers in the final 3 1/2 minutes. Georgia returns to action at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Ole Miss (TV: SEC Network). The Rebels beat the Bulldogs by an 80-64 count in Athens earlier this month, on Feb. 9. It’s the first of five regular-season games remaining for Georgia, which returns to the Classic City for a home game against Auburn at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
  • The Jefferson-based Jackson EMC sent upwards of three dozen workers to northwest Georgia Wednesday, helping with electrical restoration in the wake of Tuesday thunderstorms that caused more than 4,100 power outages. From Jackson EMC…   Jackson EMC sent 10 linemen and released 24 contractors to assist with power restoration efforts at Amicalola EMC in northwest Georgia. Tuesday brought heavy rain, strong wind gusts and severe thunderstorms to the region, resulting in widespread power outages for several north Georgia counties — including members of Amicalola EMC.    As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, Amicalola EMC reported 122 outages in Bartow, Cherokee, Gilmer, Gordon and Pickens counties, affecting 4,140 members — roughly 8.5 percent of the co-op’s membership.   A principle of co-ops is cooperation among cooperatives. Keeping with that principle, when asked, Jackson EMC provides fellow co-ops assistance with power restoration efforts following major outages. Jackson EMC linemen will work alongside Amicalola EMC line crews to safely restore power to the co-op’s members. 
  • Proposed revisions to the Athens-Clarke County Stormwater Management Plan are up for discussion in an open house forum that takes place this evening in Winterville: it gets underway at 6:30 at the Winterville Depot. The Northeast Georgia Regional Commission meets this afternoon in Athens: it is a 12 o’clock session at the Downtown Holiday Inn.  There is an evening meeting of the Athens-Clarke County Historic Preservation Commission: it’s a 6:30 session at the Government Building on Dougherty Street. The Board of the University of Georgia Foundation holds its winter meeting today.  The talk in Elberton is said to be still in the preliminary stages, but there are ongoing School Board discussions about building a new central office for the Elbert County School District.  Gainesville City Councilwoman Ruth Bruner says she will not be a candidate for reelection in November. Bruner was first elected to the Gainesville Council in 2003.
  • Residents of a Statham home awoke this morning to the smell of smoke, and were forced to quickly evacuate themselves and their pets.   Barrow County Emergency Services communications officers were alerted to the report of a residential structure fire in the 2400 block of Peace Circle around 2:00am this morning. The first arriving fire units reported that the attic of the home was heavily involved in fire and that the roof was starting to collapse. The residents on scene immediately met fire crews and notified them that everyone was out of the home. No injuries were reported, but the home’s occupants were placed inside of an ambulance to protect them from the cold and rainy weather.    Smoke detectors were reportedly not operating at the time of the fire. “We’d like to remind everyone of the importance of working smoke detectors. Today’s modern homes and furnishings burn much quicker than in the past, and produce toxic smoke that can quickly incapacitate sleeping occupants. Fortunately the occupants this morning were able to get out in time,” said Public Information Officer Steve Rose.    Crews from Stations 1, 6, and 7 responded. Truck 7 was on scene and the aerial ladder was extended to aid in fighting the fire. Once the bulk of the fire was controlled, crews made entry to fully extinguish the remaining fire with an interior attack.    Barrow County Fire Investigations were requested and determined that the fire originated in the area of the fireplace and chimney, and spread up thru the wall into the attic. Barrow County Fire Marshal Capt. Glen Cain said, “The National Fire Protection Association recommends annual fireplace and chimney inspections by a certified chimney professional.”    The home and its contents were heavily damaged, but firefighters were able to salvage some important personal items from inside the home and return them to the owners. Two adult residents were displaced and the American Red Cross was notified to assist them.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia football has scheduling twists that seem to have some fans twisting in the wind. Here’s the thing: Coach Kirby Smart is on board with the changes, and they would’t be happening if he wasn’t. “I’d just make the statement that if there are any issues that our staff has, we’d voice that,” UGA athletic director Greg McGarity told DawgNation. “But I think Kirby will be very comfortable with the schedule that you’ll see in 2020.” So Georgia is switching the order of games with rivals Auburn and Tennessee, the matchup with the Tigers moving to October, and the Vols’ series moving to November. It would certainly be easier if Smart were to speak for himself on the issue. But Smart has chosen to strategically stay silent since the 28-21 Sugar Bowl loss to Texas on Jan. 1. Smart did, however, choose to issue a statement making it clear he’s very supportive of McGarity — a narrative that somehow some have gotten confused in the past: “Greg’s been a great resource for me since coming to Georgia and has always been supportive and energetic about all the things that are necessary to develop and maintain a successful football program,’’ Smart said in a UGA release. “I’m especially appreciative of his commitment to facilities. Greg is loyal to the University and has what is best for Georgia as his top priority.’’ It’s hard to imagine how the Bulldogs head coach could be any clearer. Smart also made his feelings known on the Auburn scheduling at the SEC Spring Meetings last May in Destin, Fla. Smart said he would be all for it if Auburn were to play two consecutive games in Athens. “Absolutely, if we can get a chance to fix it, and (they) return the favor that we paid to them,” Smart said, asked if he would be on board with the Tigers playing consecutive years in Athens. “I hear about that a lot, obviously I wasn’t there, but if you can make it more consistent and balance it out, it would help in the long run.” UGA played two straight   games in Auburn, in 2012-2013, as the SEC adjusted its schedule to include Missouri and Texas A&M. The unintended consequence of Georgia changing up its odd/even years and home/away with Auburn is that the Bulldogs fell into playing both Georgia Tech and the Tigers on the road in November every other year. Smart didn’t like that, either, and he said so. “I feel like if we could fix it, it would help to not have two road games back to back for us, like the situation we had last year (2017) with Auburn and Georgia Tech back to back,” Smart said. “I understand there are problems and difficulties trying to appease everyone.” So while the opportunity for Auburn to play at Georgia two years in a row wasn’t on the table, the chance to move up the Auburn game to October was, and Smart and UGA took advantage of that. Some have pointed out that Tennessee is also a rivalry game. Now, it’s a matter of having to travel to Knoxville and Atlanta (to play Tech) in the same month. But what won’t happen is the possibility of facing Auburn in a rematch just a few short weeks after facing that program in the regular season — something Smart alluded to in Destin last May. Smart had many other things to say that offered a great deal of insight into his feelings of what was to come with transfers and quarterback situations that are worth looking back on: Kirby Smart, SEC Spring Meetings The post WATCH: What Kirby Smart said about Auburn scheduling twist, Greg McGarity appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia is moving quickly to make improvements in every phase of its football program, and apparently that extends to the Bulldogs’ relatively new “Light Up Sanford” tradition. While the plans to transition from the old metal halide lighting system to a modern LED “Lumadapt” system installed by Ephesus Lighting. In addition to being more energy efficient and brighter, the lights also can be digitally adjusted, synchronized to music and produce special effects. Which is where Georgia’s Light Up Sanford tradition comes in. “Think about the creativity to we can bring to the games,” deputy athletic director Josh Brook said during his presentation to the board. “We can celebrate a touchdown, there are all kinds of things we can do. We’re planning on a few things. There’s a certain fourth-quarter tradition we have that might come into play. We’re working on some things I don’t want to reveal right now. But this should add to the game-day experience and the things we can do for fans.” Back in 2015, members of Georgia’s Redcoat Marching Band started a fourth-quarter tradition that has gained considerable momentum the last two seasons. After the third quarter ends, the band plays a song called Krypton. That’s alerts Georgia fans to pull out their cell phones and activate their flashlight apps and wave them up and down to the music toward the team on the field. The Bulldogs respond as well, holding up four fingers and acknowledging the crowd’s belief that the fourth quarter belongs to them. The synchronicity creates quite the scene and even has inspired video documentaries. The tradition has really taken off the last two seasons as the Bulldogs made runs to the SEC Championship and National Championship game. With the capability of the new LED lights, Sanford Stadium might be able to play along as well. Brooks said Georgia is one of the first NCAA stadiums to utilize the systems installed by Ephesus. The arena lighting specialists have done installations for the last three Super Bowl venues and will for next year’s game in Miami as well. “We can take lighting effects to the next level,” Brooks said. UGA DEPUTY AD JOSH BROOKS The post WATCH: Georgia aims to take its 4th-quarter, ‘Light Up Sanford’ tradition to a new level appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — It was just a statement buried within a UGA press release on Wednesday’s athletic board meeting, but it happened to be Kirby Smart, from whom we’ve heard very little over the last 51 days and nothing directly. Georgia’s football coach was commenting on Wednesday’s news that Greg McGarity had received a contract extension to continue as the Bulldogs’ athletic director. “Greg’s been a great resource for me since coming to Georgia and has always been supportive and energetic about all the things that are necessary to develop and maintain a successful football program,’’ Smart said in the release prepared by UGA sports communications staff. “I’m especially appreciative of his commitment to facilities. Greg is loyal to the University and has what is best for Georgia as his top priority.’’ McGarity certainly has been a strong supporter of Smart and the football program. Since taking over as the Bulldogs’ head coach, McGarity has seen that Smart’s requests for facility improvements got approved and completed fast. Upon Smart’s appointment in December of 2015, the Bulldogs were in the process of breaking ground on a $31 million indoor practice facility. That building was dedicated as the William & Porter Payne Indoor Athletic Center in January of 2017. After that, McGarity filled Smart’s request for a new locker room and recruiting lounge to be constructed in the West End of Sanford Stadium. That $63 million dollar project was completed and dedicated before the 2018 season. Meanwhile, Smart’s latest request seems to be coming on line quickly. UGA already is raising funds and drawing up plans for a new football-dedicated building to be added to the Butts-Mehre Complex on South Campus. Architectural design concepts are due to be submitted to the athletic board by the time it meets again in May. At that time, the size, layout and cost of the new addition will be revealed. The multi-million dollar project could commence as early as 2020. Georgia teams have won eight national championships since McGarity’s arrival in August of 2010. The latest came last week when the women’s team won the NCAA Indoor Championship. “Greg’s leadership and continued support instill confidence in our coaches, student-athletes, and sports programs in general,’’ said Lu Harris-Champer who just began her 19th season as head coach of the UGA softball team.  ‘’He is totally committed to providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes to be successful in competition and in the classroom.  Greg is a great facilitator of success.’’ McGarity’s extension was the only personnel news to come out of the board’s winter meeting. The group also voted unanimously to allocate $8.5 million toward the new grandstand at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The post Georgia coach Kirby Smart thanks Greg McGarity for unwavering support of football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — A   stuffed miniature bulldog made for a controversial ending at Georgia on Wednesday night in Mississippi State’s 68-67 victory. UGA rallied from 17 points down to tie the game at 67-67 before State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon was fouled with 0.5 seconds remaining and went to the free-throw line for two shots. As Weatherspoon’s first free-throw attempt rattled out, a small stuffed bulldog landed on the court behind him inside the 3-point arc. WATCH: Stuffed bulldog tossed on Georgia court, officials call technical UGA coach Tom Crean went to the scorer’s table and got on the microphone, urging fans not to throw anything else on the court. But seconds later, without any more fan interaction, official Steven Anderson assessed Georgia a technical. Weatherspoon, knowing he had an extra shot coming, sank the technical free-throw attempt for the game-winning margin. “I’ve never seen that, not without a warning, and certainly not without an explanation,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said, clearly baffled by the technical foul. “The rule says you’ve got to be able to know who did it.” There were some Mississippi State fans in attendance, but the referees did not identify the fan who threw the stuffed bulldog at the time of the infraction. UGA athletic director Greg McGarity conceded it’s a judgement call, but not one he had seen applied in that situation. There hadn’t been any prior fan issues out of the crowd of 7,153, some of whom had left after UGA appeared hopelessly behind. Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said he was just happy to get out of Athens with a win and protect his Bulldogs’ NCAA Tournament resume. “Well I feel very fortunate to sneak out of here with a win tonight,” said Howland, whose team has won three straight to improve to 19-7 and 7-6 in the SEC. “That’s a huge play, someone throwing a little bulldog. “I don’t know who did that, but man I would be so frustrated if I were his team, the University of Georgia, to have that happen. That was crazy.” The timing of the technical foul seemed all the more odd, as the officials did not call a technical immediately after the object was thrown. It wasn’t until after Crean grabbed the microphone and asked the crowd not to throw any more items on the court that the technical foul was called, and the extra free-throw awarded. Did the stuffed baby bulldog decide the game? “It’s the whole woulda coulda shoulda, but you miss the first, maybe you miss the second and go into overtime, but we’re never going to know,” said Crean, whose team dropped its seventh straight game to fall to 10-16 and 1-12 in SEC play. “I’m just perplexed that no one out there would tell me what’s going on. It makes zero sense to me. “We’ll deal with it behind the scenes.” Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean Mississippi State coach Ben Howland   The post WATCH: Stuffed baby bulldog triggers decisive technical in Georgia’s 68-67 loss appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS —Mississippi State scratched out a win over Georgia on Wednesday night, winning the battle of Bulldogs by a 68-67 count at Stegeman Coliseum. Mississippi State won the game at the free-throw line in the final second. Quinndary Weatherspoon hit one of three free-throw attempts with 0.5 seconds left after being fouled by Jordan Harris on a shot attempt. Weatherspoon was granted an extra free-throw attempt via a technical called on UGA because a fan threw an item on the court. State had used a 19-0 run to pull away in the final stages of the first half and opening minutes of the second half before the crowd of 7,153. Coach Ben Howland’s team came from 25-23 down to take a commanding 42-25 lead on Weatherspoon’s drive at the 18:31 mark. Georgia (10-16, 1-12) roared back, tying the game 67-67 on Tyree Crump’s 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds left. UGA, however, couldn’t finish the job, dropping its seventh straight dating back to the 98-88 win over Texas on Jan. 26. Weatherspoon(10-16, 1-12) scored a career-high 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting for Mississippi State (19-7, 7-6 SEC), including a pair of free throws with 15.6 seconds left to give his team a 67-64 cushion. UGA star Nicolas Claxton, who entered the night one of five Division I players leading his team in all five major statistical categories, finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds. Claxton didn’t score his first points until the 3:54 mark, giving Georgia a 24-20 lead. Moments later, Claxton committed his second foul, and Coach Tom Crean made what proved to be a critical decision to take him out of the game, likely contributing to the key MSU run. Mississippi State held a 36-25 lead at halftime, breaking away with the   16-1 (and 13-0) run the final 3:16. Weatherspoon led the charge, scoring 12 of those 16 points as State hit on its final seven shots of the first half. Georgia, meanwhile, committed four of its seven opening half turnovers in the final 3 1/2   minutes. Mississippi State firmed up its NCAA Tournament resume with the victory, its third in a row. Georgia returns to action at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Ole Miss (TV: SEC Network). The Rebels beat the Bulldogs by an 80-64 count in Athens earlier this month, on Feb. 9. It’s the first of five regular season games remaining for Georgia, which returns to the Classic City for a home game against Auburn at 9 p.m. next Wednesday. UGA finishes with games at Florida (March 2), at home against Missouri (March 6) and at South Carolina (March 9) before traveling to Nashville for the SEC Tournament (March 13-17). The post Mississippi State claws out 68-67, last-second win over Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.