The Note: Republicans say ‘trust us’ on health care, but can you?

THE TAKE with ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks

Sen. Bill Cassidy insists his bill passes “the Kimmel test,” but health care experts resoundingly disagree. Policy wonks from universities, think tanks and insurance groups were quoted in article after article yesterday, explaining that states could get waivers and allow insurance companies to discriminate against patients with pre-existing conditions. States are required to keep coverage “adequate and affordable,” but those terms are undefined. That debate, plus the sweeping Medicaid cuts in the bill, is part of the reason medical groups have lined up against the legislation. Now, maybe the secretary of Health and Human Services has an idea for defining those terms or enforcing state practices. Maybe that language would be enough to guarantee affordable coverage. Maybe different experts could explain how states could do more with millions less. Perhaps Cassidy reads the text differently and his legal team could make a convincing case. Perhaps a few small tweaks could have a huge difference. And voila! The reason legislative process exists. Hearings are designed to debate “maybes.” Committee markups are opportunities to make sure the text reflects lawmakers’ intentions. Big picture: without that process, Republicans are asking voters just to trust them.

VIRGINIA IS FOR…ATTACK ADS?

“Enron Ed.” “Career political hatchet man.” “Will not make Virginia safer.” These aren’t monikers one would expect to hear just a day removed from an otherwise civil debate, but the Virginia governor’s race seems to be taking a turn for the negative, at least on the airwaves. Both campaigns released new TV ads yesterday, with Democrat Ralph Northam painting Republican Ed Gillespie as nothing but a career lobbyist, while Gillespie hit Northam for his support of “sanctuary cities.” Attack ads are of course nothing new, but the timing seemed curious just one day removed from a debate that, while at times grew testy, did not devolve into the shouting matches we’ve become accustomed to in the Trump-era of American politics. President Trump remains somewhat of an unknown factor thus far, and Gillespie was non-committal when asked Tuesday night if he’d like the president to hold a campaign rally for him in Virginia. Perhaps the former RNC chairman is aware of his opponents’ desire to tie him to Trump every chance they get, but the man in the Oval Office can’t simply be ignored when he’s right across the Potomac, ABC News’ John Verhovek writes.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Trump goes “speed dating” at the U.N.: But of all Trump’s meetings today, the most important are arguably with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, two days after Trump threatened to destroy North Korea.
  • The Senate pushes ahead: The Cassidy-Graham health care bill will be considered on the Senate floor next week.
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller wants to know about some of Trump’s darkest days in the White House: Mueller sent a letter asking for details in 13 specific areas including the James Comey and Michael Flynn firings, and Trump’s Oval Office meeting in May with two Russian diplomats, sources confirm.
  • Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort offered over email to provide briefings to a Russian billionaire with ties to the Kremlin, after Trump locked down the GOP nomination, The Washington Post reports.
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY

    “He made a total about-face, which means he either doesn’t understand his own bill, or he lied to me, it’s simple as that.” — Jimmy Kimmel in response to Sen. Bill Cassidy

    NEED TO READ with ABC News’ Paola Chavez

    ‘Powerhouse Politics’ podcast: Sen. Chris Van Hollen calls Alabama Senate race “Republican civil, political war.” Sen. Chris Van Hollen expressed confidence in the Democratic Party’s position in the upcoming Alabama senate race, where he said there is a “full-blown Republican civil, political war.” “We all know it’s Alabama. That’s been tough territory for Democrats and no one is kidding themselves how tough politically Alabama has been,” the Democratic senator from Maryland told ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast Wednesday, adding, “On the other hand, we have a terrific candidate.” http://abcn.ws/2fdm9sT

    Trump says he has reached decision on Iran deal: “I’ll let you know.” President Donald Trump indicated Wednesday that he has made a decision on the future of the Iran nuclear deal, but refused to offer additional information. “I have decided,” Trump told reporters three times as he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “I’ll let you know what the decision is.” http://abcn.ws/2xSLVxC

    Fact Check: Sen. Cassidy on his health care bill assertions. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., made several statements about his and Sen. Lindsey Graham’s, R-S.C., health care bill that seemed worthy of some fact-checking. Below are four assertions and ABC News’ explanations for them based on conversations with health care experts. http://abcn.ws/2fbwMw0

    Trump congratulates African leaders: “I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich.” President Donald Trump congratulated the leaders of African nations Wednesday on the “business potential” of their countries, telling them that he has “so many friends” going to the continent “trying to get rich.” http://abcn.ws/2fAuUO3

    ANALYSIS: Melania Trump takes a step forward. ABC News

    Jimmy Kimmel escalates senator war. The Hollywood Reporter

    Tom Price, who reportedly used costly private jets, once slammed government planes as “fiscal irresponsibility run amok.” CNBC

    Republicans’ new health care plan would need to move faster than 96% of laws. CNN

    Chris Christie does not support GOP Graham-Cassidy health care bill. My Central Jersey

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