Trump says new order will force insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions; ACA already does

MIAMI – During a speech on Friday evening, President Donald Trump said he would work on a key executive order to oblige health insurers to cover pre-existing conditions.

Trump’s announcement from the Trump Organization’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, comes as his administration joined a lawsuit to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which protects people with pre-existing conditions.

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Trump also said he was ready to issue executive orders to suspend wage taxes and student loan payments and extend unemployment benefits until the end of 2020.

Trump also said the coronavirus is “going away” when epidemiologists have warned it is not.

By ANDREW TAYLOR, The Associated Press

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (center) and President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (second from right) leave the company after meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California, and Senate Minority Chairman, Senator Chuck Schumer, New York as they continue negotiating a coronavirus relief package on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON (AP) – A final attempt by the Democrats to revive talks on Capitol Hill over key COVID-19 bailouts collapsed in disappointment on Friday, making the Washington deadlock increasingly likely for millions of people more Losing unemployment, more trouble will mean benefits and more damage to an economy ravaged by the still raging coronavirus.

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“It was a disappointing meeting,” said Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, and said the White House had turned down an offer from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to curb Democratic demands by about $ 1 trillion. He urged the White House to “negotiate with Democrats and meet us in the middle. Don’t say it’s your way or not. “

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “Unfortunately we made no progress today.” Republicans said Pelosi was relying on budget maneuvers to cut costs, claiming she had dubbed her hand.

Often a dead end in Washington is of little concern to the public – not this time. This means a longer, and potentially permanent, expiry of a weekly $ 600 pandemic unemployment benefit that is preventing millions of people from falling into poverty. More than $ 100 billion will be denied to help schools reopen this fall. It is blocking additional funding for virus testing as cases rise this summer. And it denies billions of dollars to state and local governments from viewing vacation days as their revenue crater.

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There is uncertainty ahead of us. Both the House and Senate have left Washington, and members have been sent home on instructions to return to vote on an agreement. With no agreement in sight, their absence increases the possibility of a prolonged stalemate that extends well into August and even into September.

For now, President Donald Trump appears ready to go it alone, despite the considerable limitations of this approach. Following previous threats, Mnuchin said Trump would push ahead with the executive order on home evictions and student loan debt, allowing states to reintroduce COVID relief funding into their unemployment insurance programs. However, a possible executive order to postpone the collection of social security wage taxes has been postponed.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said, “This is not a perfect answer – we’ll be the first to say this – but it is all we can do and all the President can do within his executive powers . ”

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Friday’s session followed a combative Thursday night meeting that for the first time raised real doubts about the ability of the Trump administration and Democrats on Capitol Hill to unite on a fifth COVID-19 response bill. Pelosi called Mnuchin and Meadows together in hopes of breathing life into the negotiations, which were marked by frustration and intransigence on both sides – especially on important issues like the extension of the pandemic bonus unemployment benefit, which expired last week.

Pelosi declared the talks as good as dead until Meadows and Mnuchin fell under their feet.

“I told them come back when you’re ready to give us a higher number,” she said.

The collapse of negotiations is particularly distressing for schools, which are counting on billions of dollars from Washington to cover the cost of reopening. But other priorities are suffering as well, including a new round of $ 1,200 in direct payments to most people, a cash feed for the struggling postal service, and money to help states run elections in November.

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In a news conference on Friday, Pelosi said she had offered Republicans a major concession.

“We’re going to go down $ 1 trillion, you’re going to go up $ 1 trillion,” Pelosi said. The numbers are approximate, but a Pelosi spokesperson said the spokesman is generally aiming for a “top line” of maybe $ 2.4 trillion as the HEROES bill passed by the House values ​​it at $ 3.45 trillion becomes. Republicans say their starting offer was about $ 1 trillion, but have offered some concessions on unemployment benefits and assistance to states that have increased the White House offer, among others.

Mnuchin said the renewal of a $ 600 weekly pandemic unemployment surge and huge Democratic calls for help to state and local governments are the key areas they are stuck in.

“There are many areas of compromise,” he said after Friday’s meeting. “I think if we can reach an agreement on state and municipalities and unemployment, we will reach an overall agreement. And if we can’t, we can’t. “

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Democrats have offered to slash their nearly $ 1 trillion demand to state and local governments, but some of the cost savings that Pelosi proposed would come primarily from shortening the timeframe for services like grocery stamps.

Pelosi and Schumer continue to insist on a huge rescue package to counter spikes in cases and deaths, double-digit unemployment and the threat of poverty to millions of the new unemployed.

On Friday, they pointed out the new July job report to try and endorse their suggestions. The report showed that the US created 1.8 million jobs last month, a much smaller increase than in May and June.

“It is clear that the economy is losing steam,” said Schumer. “That means we need big, bold investments in America to help the average citizen.”

The Senate Republicans were split, and about half of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were against any other bailout bill at all. Four previous coronavirus response bills worth nearly $ 3 trillion have won bipartisan vote despite heated arguments, but the Conservatives have pulled back amid the prospect of another Pelosi-brokered deal at a whopping deficit-financed cost.

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McConnell stayed away from negotiations when voting with Mnuchin and Meadows.

In addition to restoring the forfeited US $ 600 per week unemployment benefit, Pelosi and Schumer have established a firm position to extend the requested generous childcare allowance and reiterated their insistence on additional funding for grocery stamps and assistance for renters and homeowners affected by eviction or eviction are foreclosure.

“This virus is like a freight train that comes so quickly and reacts like a convoy that moves as slowly as the slowest ship. It just doesn’t work, ”Pelosi said on Friday.

Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.

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