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Opinion | New Trumpcare Deserves a Quick Death

The bill, known as Cassidy-Graham, would take away health insurance from millions, and it’s blocking bipartisan efforts to fix Obamacare.

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To paraphrase Ronald Reagan: There they go again.

On Wednesday, a group of Republican senators plan to release a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It comes from Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and they will market it as a bill that gives states the flexibility to create the system that they want.

But that’s deeply misleading. While it would theoretically give states more flexibility, the bill would mostly rob states of money to pay for health insurance — and millions of Americans would lose coverage as a result. Think of it this way: Every reader of this newsletter has the theoretical flexibility to buy a private jet.

Cassidy-Graham, as the bill is known, ends up looking remarkably similar to previous repeal attempts. It would likely result in 15 million Americans losing their insurance next year and more than 30 million losing it a decade from now (based on analyses of an early version of the bill, which was similar to previous Republican health bills). “The similarities are more striking than the differences,” Aviva Aron-Dine of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities told me.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in Washington, in July. Justin Gilliland/The New York Times

Right now, the bill looks unlikely to pass, because several Republicans, including Rand Paul, sound unenthusiastic, and it faces a Sept. 30 deadline, as a result of Senate rules. But I still take the bill seriously. President Trump supports it, as apparently do many Senate Republicans.

The lesson of the last year has been that Republican health plans can quickly change from long shots to near passage. They often benefit from a lack of attention. When the subject moves out of the spotlight, members of Congress feel more comfortable with the notion of taking health care away from millions of people. When people pay attention — and get mad — Congress steps back.

There is also good reason to hope that Cassidy-Graham dies quickly. Members of both parties — like Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican — now seem open to a bipartisan bill to fix some of Obamacare’s problems. A Senate committee held a hearing on the subject yesterday. But it was clear at the hearing that Republicans have a hard time talking publicly about bipartisan compromise so long as the fantasy of a beneficial repeal bill remains alive.

“It is because we need bipartisanship that I want this to fail,” Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicare and Medicaid in the Obama administration, tweeted, referring to the Cassidy-Graham bill.

For more on this, read Bill Frist (the former Republican Senate leader) and Slavitt in The Washington Post on the bipartisan steps Congress should take. To understand the damage that Cassidy-Graham would do, read Sarah Kliff or Dylan Scott of Vox, Jordan Weissmann of Slate or an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Climate realism. I’ve criticized journalists for being afraid to talk about the overwhelming likelihood that climate change is affecting weather and storms. A recent exception is CNN’s Daniella Diaz, whose interview with the E.P.A.’s Scott Pruitt led to his much-cited comments this week. I hope Diaz becomes a trend setter.

In The Times today, Tom Friedman writes: “The climate has always changed by itself through its own natural variability. But that doesn’t mean that humans can’t exacerbate or disrupt this natural variability by warming the planet even more and, by doing so, making the hots hotter, the wets wetter, the storms harsher, the colds colder and the droughts drier.”

What happened. Hillary Clinton, as you’ve probably read by now, thinks James Comey helped cost her the election. Whatever else you think of Clinton, I think it’s worth remembering that the evidence is very much on her side. Nate Silver walks through it here (and discussed it with his FiveThirtyEight colleagues on a podcast yesterday), and Joshua Green has reported that the Trump campaign also thought the Comey memo was a turning point.

Of course, Clinton’s new book is about much more than Comey. You can read reviews by The Times’s Jennifer Senior and The Washington Post’s David Weigel. Clinton herself talked about the book with Pod Save America and with Ezra Klein.

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