Days Since News Of An Impeachable Scandal: [0][0][0][1]

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President Trump has found an incredible new way to hold someone hostage while also providing them a robust health plan. Three journalists found major weaknesses in Mar-a-Lago?s networks, which will undoubtedly save countless ambassadors the hassle of actually having to ask Donald Trump about secret material. And Ben Sasse?s parenting book is a real stinker, but no matter, as we?re excited for Bernie Sanders? memoir about what happens when you hand over your house?s means of production to a six-year-old. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, May 17th, 2017:

FB-WHY Maybe Trump should interview Ben Nelson just to really piss off Democrats. Ryan J. Reilly: ?President Donald Trump, who fired FBI Director James Comey last week, will interview four candidates to replace him, the White House said Wednesday. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Trump will interview four people on Wednesday: current acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe; Frank Keating, the former governor of Oklahoma who previously served as an FBI agent and in high-level positions in the Justice Department; former Sen. Joe Lieberman; and Richard McFeely, who served in the FBI for 24 years before retiring as executive assistant director in 2014.? [HuffPost]

ANNNNNNNND THERE?S THE ?I? WORD – At CAP?s ?ideas conference? yesterday, the biggest applause lines came during Maxine Water?s somewhat (er, very) unfocused rant about President Trump and Russia and the possible need for impeachment.  Jennifer Bendery: ?Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) called for impeaching President Donald Trump from the House floor on Wednesday. ?I rise today, Mr. Speaker, to call for the impeachment of the president of the United States of America for obstruction of justice,? Green began in a sermon-like speech. ?I do not do this for political purposes,? he continued. ?I do it because, Mr. Speaker, there is a belief in this country that no one is above the law. And that includes the president of the United States of America. Mr. Speaker, our democracy is at risk.? ? The Texas Democrat rattled off a website, impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org, and urged people to sign a petition there saying they agree it?s time to begin impeachment proceedings. It is ultimately the public, he said, that will decide whether impeachment happens.? [HuffPost]

@mcalderone: Fox News downplaying/dismissing Comey news in primetime Tues apparently didn?t work with viewers. CNN first in demo; MSNBC first in total.

PRETTY SURE THE ADMINISTRATION IS JUST LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR TRUMP TV IN 2021 – Yep, 2021, he?ll likely still be president then. Ryan J. Reilly and Elise Foley: ?President Donald Trump?s administration will appoint Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke ? a Fox News talking head with extreme rhetoric on law enforcement ? to a job in the Department of Homeland Security, Clarke said Wednesday. The sheriff has recently come under scrutiny because four people, including a newborn, died in less than a year inside the jail he?s charged with running. Clarke told 1130 WISN Radio that he will serve as an assistant secretary in the DHS?s Office of Partnership and Engagement and will work as a liaison between law enforcement and state and local governments. That job does not require a Senate confirmation.? [HuffPost]

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WE?RE ALL GOING TO DIE – As a test, Fox News should run ?Donald Trump? on an infinite loop in the news ticker and see if the president ever appears again. Steve Holland and Jeff Mason: ?Besieged by controversy at home, U.S. President Donald rump is under pressure to stick to the script and avoid fresh flare-ups when he embarks this week on his first foreign trip, a nine-day trek to the Middle East and Europe?. National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump?s name in ?as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he?s mentioned,? according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials. Trump likes to look at a map of the country involved when he learns about a topic.? [Reuters]

BUT WHO WILL GUARD THE PRESIDENT?S PRECIOUS LITTLE FEELINGS? Paige Lavender: ?President Donald Trump found another opportunity to attack the media during a commencement ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday?. ?Never ever, ever give up. Things will work out just fine,? Trump said. ?Look at the way I?ve been treated lately, especially by the media.? Trump argued ?no politician in history…has been treated worse or more unfairly? by the media?. The president closed out his speech with one actual piece of advice for the graduates: ?Enjoy your life.?? [HuffPost]

Hmm…has Trump been treated worse than any politician in history? ?Fairness is a pretty interesting topic of conversation to be raising in front of men and women who will one day be jumping into the damn ocean in the middle of hurricanes to rescue people, in the service of an organization whose unofficial motto is, ?You have to go out, but you don?t have to come back.? ? Let?s just think about other presidents. Off the top of my head, here are some people who were treated more unfairly than Donald Trump.? [HuffPost?s Jason Linkins]
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ON LIVING IN A PSYCHOLOGICAL CAGE – We hope you one day free yourself from the figurative prison your life has become. Josh Dawsey and Matthew Nussbaum: ?In interviews, multiple White House officials indicated they feel under siege ? unsure who in the intelligence community was leaking, how much damaging information was out there, when the next proverbial shoe would drop and what Trump might say. Staffers shuttled back and forth among West Wing offices debating what to say without divulging confidential material or getting anything wrong. A deflated and exhausted Sean Spicer, who continues to read reports that his job is in jeopardy while he works 12 hours every day in his office, huddled in his office with chief of staff Reince Priebus. There was a pervasive sense, another official said, that ?we are kind of helpless.?? [Politico]

Maybe now Mitch McConnell will do something: ?Interviews with Republicans in and close to the donor community revealed growing worries that Congress has been knocked off kilter by the problems engulfing Trump ? and that it will be enormously challenging to get back on track as the contours of 2018 congressional races begin to take shape?. At a gathering of the Republican Governors Association at a Trump resort in the Miami area this week, donors were also anxious, consumed by the feeling that ?it?s going to be impossible to get anything done,? said one Republican operative in attendance. ?They?re flipping out like everybody else, of course they are,? said the operative, going on to add, ?People are in meltdown mode.?? [McClatchy?s Katie Glueck]

¡Encerrarlos! ?Deportation officers arrested more than 41,000 people on civil immigration charges between the Monday after Trump?s inauguration and his 100th day in office, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE deportation officers arrested about 30,000 people in roughly the same period in 2016. Arrests of noncriminals more than doubled during the same period ? from about 4,200 in 2016 to more than 10,800 in 2017, according to ICE. They made up about one-quarter of the total arrests.? [HuffPost?s Elise Foley]

GOP STREAMLINING GOVERNMENT BY MAKING IT SUPER-INEFFICIENT – Alexander C. Kaufman: ?Shrouded by the political chaos surrounding the White House, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the Regulatory Accountability Act that would impose dozens of new requirements on the government rule-making process?. The act proposes adding 53 requirements to the regulatory process, including a mandate that all rules with an economic impact exceeding $110 million go through a lengthy review. The bill would, for example, make it harder for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update meat and poultry safety standards, the Food and Drug Administration to issue new rules on opioids and the Mine Safety and Health Association to upgrade protections for workers without clearing high hurdles set by deep-pocketed meat, pharmaceutical and mining companies.? [HuffPost]

DIVERSIFY YO BONDS, GREG GIANFORTE – Alexander C. Kaufman: ?A Republican congressional candidate owns a stake in a French-Swiss cement company accused of making payments to the Islamic State militant group in Syria, according to financial disclosures HuffPost reviewed. Greg Gianforte, the millionaire GOP contender for Montana?s open seat in the House, reported owning $47,066 worth of shares in LafargeHolcim as recently as December?. LafargeHolcim operated a factory in the north Syrian town of Kobane for three years after civil war broke out and most foreign companies fled. The company evacuated foreign employees in 2012, but kept the business going with local workers until ISIS fighters seized the factory two years later. Payments made to local armed groups to secure the factory may have unwittingly ended up in ISIS coffers, French newspaper Le Monde reported last year. CEO Eric Olsen resigned from the firm last month.? [HuffPost]

BORIS IS INVINCEEEEBLE – Are the weaknesses detailed below that all the captcha prompts spell out ?DONALD TRUMP?? Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu, and Julia Angwin:  ?We parked a 17-foot motor boat in a lagoon about 800 feet from the back lawn of the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and pointed a two-foot wireless antenna that resembled a potato gun toward the club. Within a minute, we spotted three weakly encrypted Wi-Fi networks. We could have hacked them in less than five minutes, but we refrained?. We also visited two of President Donald Trump?s other family-run retreats, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and a golf club in Sterling, Va. Our inspections found weak and open Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers without passwords, servers with outdated and vulnerable software, and unencrypted login pages to back-end databases containing sensitive information.? [Gizmodo/ProPublica]

SASSE-PLAINING – Free idea: this book, but replacing every reference to ?millennials? with ?my archnemesis, Herb Kohl.? Alyssa Rosenberg: ?It says a lot about how engaging Sen. Ben Sasse?s Twitter feed is, and how novel it seemed that a politician would write what appeared to be a parenting book rather than a bland campaign volume, that I requested a copy of the Nebraska Republican?s new book, ?The Vanishing American Adult.? And I truly hoped to be able to report that it was good: Any sign that an American politician is capable of thinking in new ways or speaking in new terms is manna in the desert, and as you all know, it?s getting grim out there. So it?s with regret that I inform you that ?The Vanishing American Adult? is a reminder that there is more than one way for a politician to write a bad book, as well as an illustration of the limits of Sasse?s mildly maverick brand.? [WaPo]

BECAUSE YOU?VE READ THIS FAR – Here?s a lion being freaked out by bubbles.

MAYBE THEY WERE AFRAID THE SWAMP WOULD BE DRAINED – Fear not, little waterfowl. Dana Hedgpeth: ?A dozen baby ducks and their mother were rescued Tuesday afternoon from a 6th floor balcony of a Library of Congress building with the help of the U.S. Capitol Police. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden posted a picture of the ducklings on Twitter. On Tuesday, around 4 p.m., a Library of Congress staffer noticed the ducklings and their mother go past a window of the 6th floor balcony of the James Madison Memorial Building, which is one of the library?s facilities, said Gail Osterberg, the library?s director of communications. There is no water around, so it seemed a bit ?out of the ordinary,? said Osterberg.? [WaPo]

COMFORT FOOD

– Apple really doesn?t want its employees to procreate.

– The 12,000-calorie diet of the world?s strongest man.

– Yoda tells a joke.

TWITTERAMA

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffpost.com)

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Anthony Bourdain And Girlfriend Asia Argento Make It Instagram Official

Imagine how great date night would be if Anthony Bourdain was your boyfriend and cooked for you on the regular. Actress Asia Argento doesn?t have to imagine ? it?s her life. 

On Tuesday, the recently divorced Bourdain and Argento made their relationship Instagram official with his-and-her versions of the same pic on their personal accounts. The pair have been rumored to be dating since February.

?Another Green World photo by @Blue.lou,? Bourdan?s caption reads under a pic of the equally tatted couple. 

Another Green World photo by @Blue.lou

A post shared by anthonybourdain (@anthonybourdain) on

Back in September 2016, the ?Parts Unknown? host split from his wife Ottavia Busia, a mixed martial arts fighter. The pair were married in 2007 and have a 9-year-old daughter together. (This was Bourdain?s second divorce; he was married to first wife Nancy Putkoski for two decades.) 

Argento, 41, is best known in the states for her role as Yelena in the 2002 action film ?xXx.? She won the David di Donatello award (Italy?s version of an Oscar) in 1994 and 1996 for ?Perdiamoci di vista? and ?Campagna di viaggio.? The actress has two daughters of her own. 

In February, the 60-year-old celeb chef and the Italian actress were photographed hand-in-hand in Rome. And Bourdain gave major props to Argento for her help on the Rome episode of ?Parts Unknown.? In the episode, which aired in December, the two share plates of pasta, watch a boxing match and go grocery shopping. 

?The episode would not have been possible ? or be anything like it is without the truly magnificent Asia Argento,? Bourdain wrote in December. ?She?s spent a lifetime in films ? mostly in front of the cameras, but also ? and quite notably ? behind, directing most recently the remarkable and beautiful ?Incompresa (Misunderstood).??

Sounds like someone?s smitten. 

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Nick And Aaron Carter’s Father, Robert Carter, Dead At 65

Robert Carter, father to singers Nick and Aaron Carter, has died, TMZ reports. He was 65. 

Robert, also known as Bob, died on Tuesday night in Florida, according to sources who spoke to TMZ. Details surrounding his death are sparse, but the outlet reports Aaron posted a tweet (which has since been deleted) about his father being found unconscious. 

On Wednesday afternoon, Nick confirmed the sad news on Twitter and asked followers to respect his family?s privacy at this time. 

Aaron also shared a tweet, writing, ?I am in shock and I loved my dad so much.? 

Robert made appearances on the family?s reality show, ?House of Carters,? which also feature Nick and Aaron?s three other siblings, Leslie, Angel and Bobbie. His death comes about five years after their sister Leslie tragically died at the age of 25

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Homeland Security Secretary Tells Graduates To ‘Tell The Truth,’ With Trump Sitting Next To Him

Introducing President Donald Trump at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Wednesday advised the school?s graduates to ?tell the truth,? and praised the U.S. as ?first and foremost a nation of laws.?

?Tell the truth to your seniors, even though it?s uncomfortable, even though they may not want to hear it,? Kelly said, with Trump, the commencement speaker, sitting next to him on stage. ?They deserve that. Tell the truth.?

The commencement address was Trump?s first public appearance since Tuesday?s extraordinary reports that he asked then-FBI director James Comey in February to end his investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn?s contacts with Russian officials. Trump fired Comey last week.

The White House has denied that Trump pushed Comey to end the probe.

During the speech, Trump did not directly discuss the reports and mostly stuck to a prepared script.

But while instructing the graduates on overcoming adversity, Trump lashed out at  the media.

?Never, ever, ever give up. Things will work out just fine. Look at the way I?ve been treated lately, especially by the media,? he said. ?No other politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly. Adversity makes you stronger.?

He also boasted about his election victory and lauded his achievements as president, ending the speech by advising students to ?enjoy your life.?

 White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hesitated to answer when asked by a reporter on Tuesday whether it was acceptable for public officials to lie.

?Um. The reason I?m going to have hedging on this is that I?m just thinking,? he said. ?Mentally, I?m going through every position in the United States government. In theory, if you were an operative of some sort. Uh, there are cases in which ? yeah, if it?s a public official, then no.?

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Why Banning Laptops From Airplane Cabins Doesn’t Make Sense

By Cassandra Burke Robertson, Case Western Reserve University and Irina D. Manta, Hofstra University

Recent reports suggest that terrorists can now create bombs so thin that they cannot be detected by the current X-ray screening that our carry-on bags undergo. The Conversation

In an effort to protect against such threats, the U.S is considering banning laptops and other large electronic devices in the passenger cabins of airplanes flying between Europe and the United States. This would extend a ban already in place on flights from eight Middle Eastern countries.

Given the significant disruption such a policy would cause tens of thousands of passengers a day, a logical question any economist might ask is: Is it worth it?

It is tempting to think that any level of cost and inconvenience is sensible if it reduces the risk of an attack even a little. But risks, inherent in flying and even driving, can never be avoided entirely.

So when weighing policies that are designed to make us safer, it is important to consider both their costs and potential effectiveness.

Unfortunately, whether the benefits justify the costs is too often not the yardstick used by officials determining whether to pursue these types of policies. Instead, as law professors who have researched how the government?s travel policies affect civil liberties, we have found that it is more likely that political considerations motivate the adoption of restrictive policies, which in the end actually do little to protect citizens? security.

Expanding a ban

The current laptop policy regarding some flights from the Middle East was put in place in March apparently as a result of intelligence that ISIS militants were training to get laptop bombs past security screeners and onto planes. The U.K. adopted a similar rule.

The Department of Homeland Security wants to extend that ban to transatlantic flights. This would cause major disruption and ?logistical chaos.? Approximately 65 million people a year fly between Europe and the United States.

Business travelers are concerned about the loss of productivity and the risk that a checked laptop with sensitive information could be damaged, stolen or subjected to intrusive search. Families worry about traveling without electronic distractions to soothe tired and uncomfortable children. Airlines expect a loss of business as people opt out of transatlantic travel altogether.

Past policies such as limiting the liquids that can be carried on and requiring passengers to remove shoes are a case in point. They have increased burdens on both travelers ? who must pay to check baggage and face added inconvenience ? and taxpayers ? who bear the costs of every policy change ? while likely doing little to nothing to improve security.

Benefits and costs

Regulators throughout the government typically must rely on a cost-benefit analysis to determine levels of acceptable risk, weighing the potential safety gain of a new policy against its costs and added risks.

But when dealing with a fear of terrorism, it is common to find policies that are not cost effective. And if we subjected the laptop bans (the original and expansion) to a cost-benefit analysis, they would likely fail. The costs are high, the potential security gains are small, and the policy adds hazards of its own.

To make its case, the government seems to be relying on several purported benefits of stowing laptops in the luggage hold. First, checked bags undergo additional screening for the presence of explosives. Second, it is possible that luggage in the cargo area could provide some insulation from an explosion. Finally, bombs placed in the cargo area require a sophisticated timing device, unlike simpler explosives that could be set off manually.

But these benefits appear dubious as support for a laptop ban. Carry-on luggage could go through expanded screening, for example, while the notion that checked luggage might make an explosion more survivable is speculative ? and such gains might in any case be offset by the dangerous greater vibration found in cargo cabin. Lithium batteries have, after all, been forbidden from the cargo compartment for a reason ? and must instead be carried on ? to avoid the risk of fire.

And of course, this does little to protect against the risk of an explosive device in the cargo cabin. It just moves the risk to an isolated area of the plane.

Moving the devices to the hold could actually make such devices harder to detect if they slip past airport screening. The exploding lithium batteries in Samsung devices, for example, show how even ordinary fire risks can be greater when passengers are not there to notice a smoking battery in a bag in the overhead compartment.

Similarly, the presence of observant passengers can help thwart terrorist activity when it does occur, as happened with the underwear bomber. One should keep in mind that one of the greatest airline tragedies of all times, the attack on Pan Am flight 103 that exploded over Lockerbie and claimed 270 lives, was caused by a bomb that went off in a suitcase in the cargo hold.

On the economic side, the financial costs of the policy change would likely be very high. Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce, travel industry professionals estimate that the cost of lost productivity alone for business travelers unable to work on flights between the U.S. and Europe is estimated to be as great as $500 million a year.

The potential loss of tourism revenue may be even greater, as families avoid vacationing in the United States and business travelers choose to meet by teleconference instead of in person.

Questionable politics

So if the laptop ban would be ineffective ? or worse yet, even make airline travel less safe ? and be very costly, why would the government consider it?

The answer is likely politics. And that is because people overestimate the likelihood of being harmed by a terrorist attack, which lends extreme actions like the laptop ban public support, while they underestimate the risks of more ordinary occurrences like car accidents or defective batteries.

From 1975 to 2015, fewer than 84 Americans a year died due to terrorism, and that includes the attacks on 9/11. Meanwhile, in 2015 alone a total of 38,300 people died in traffic-related accidents in the U.S. And lithium batteries have been blamed for dozens of aircraft fires and may have been what brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in 2014 with more than 200 passengers and crew.

At the same time, officials on whose watch an attack or other disaster occurs receive disproportionate blame, something that does not carry over to more ordinary risks. People fear terror attacks more than the common threats that are actually more likely to cause them harm. Politicians may respond to their voters? concerns, and may even share the same cognitive biases.

As a result, government decision makers have an incentive to overvalue measures taken to prevent terror attacks, even at the expense of increasing more ordinary ? yet more likely ? safety risks.

While there may not be much we can do about Americans? misconceptions about the risk of terrorism, public policy on an issue as important as airline safety should not blindly follow them.

Cassandra Burke Robertson, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Professional Ethics,Case Western Reserve University and Irina D. Manta, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Intellectual Property Law, Hofstra University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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The Republican Plan To Cover Sick People Might Sort Of Work, But Nobody Really Knows

WASHINGTON ? Republicans think they have a better way to organize the individual health insurance market and deal with people who are already sick: throwing them a sad pool party.  

The health care bill Republicans passed in the House earlier this month would allow states to opt out of the protections that the Affordable Care Act, or ?Obamacare,? established for people with pre-existing medical conditions, but only if they set up so-called ?high-risk pools? instead. These pools would accept people who are considered ?risky? to insurance companies because their health histories suggest their future medical claims will cost the companies a lot of money.

It?s not a new concept. High-risk pools have existed since the 1970s and were in operation in 35 states when the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. They?ve never had a ton of funding, and only insured about 220,000 people when they were phased out ? which is far fewer than the estimated 25 million with pre-existing conditions and no insurance.  

House Speaker Paul Ryan touted his state?s version as an example earlier this month. ?In Wisconsin, we had a really successful high-risk pool,? said Ryan, adding that 10 percent of Wisconsinites on the individual insurance market bought plans from the pool, which was called the Wisconsin Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan.

?They could go to any doctor or any hospital they wanted. And their premiums and co-pays were cheaper than they are under Obamacare today.?

The Wisconsin pool covered about 20,000 people each year before it folded as the Affordable Care Act?s subsidies and protections for individual health insurance consumers took effect in 2014. The typical enrollee in the Wisconsin pool had a $5,000 deductible ? the amount they would have to pay before their plan would begin to cover claims ? and lifetime benefits were capped at $2 million, according to the National Association of State Comprehensive Plans. Wisconsin, like many other states with these high-risk pools, required new enrollees to wait six months before the program paid claims relating to pre-existing conditions, as a way to limit expenses.

Sue and Dan Wilson of Appleton, Wisconsin, had to use the state?s high-risk pool in 2011, after Dan retired from his job as a journalist at a local paper. Dan has high blood pressure, and Sue has diabetes. They searched for an affordable plan on the private market, but were rejected ? even for policies charging as much as $1,200 a month. They found they could get coverage through the Wisconsin Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan for about $800 a month.

But they could only afford one policy ? two was too expensive. Sue enrolled, while Dan went without insurance for about a year ? and even then, they had to dip into their savings to pay for it until they both were able to qualify for Medicare in 2012.

?It was better than nothing,? said Sue Wilson in an interview. ?I had insurance and my husband had no insurance. It was scary.?

Wisconsin?s high-risk pool brought in $104 million in revenue from premiums in 2011 and paid out $178 million, which was typical for these programs more broadly ? losses in state pools across the country amounted to $1.2 billion that year, even with premiums that could be twice as high as market rates. States tried to make up the difference by imposing fees on insurance companies, and Congress chipped in with millions of dollars through occasional grants over the years, according to the Congressional Research Service.

I had insurance and my husband had no insurance. It was scary.
Sue Wilson

The details of the GOP?s American Health Care Act are still sketchy, even after the House voted to send the legislation to the Senate. But its basic idea is to funnel an unprecedented amount of federal money into new state high-risk pools ? as much as $138 billion over 10 years ? though the legislation doesn?t say that states actually have to use that cash for the pools. Just last year, Ryan proposed only $25 billion for the policy.

During a hearing in February ? one of only a few hearings held on what eventually became the House legislation ? Wisconsin?s deputy insurance commissioner testified that when the state?s high-risk pool closed, premiums for everybody else in the state went up because the pool?s 20,000 enrollees were put on the state?s individual insurance market with healthier people.

?Wisconsin insurers were quickly faced with an uncertain influx of individuals with serious health conditions,? deputy insurance commissioner J.P. Wieske said in his written testimony.

The Republican bill would allow states to resegregate those sicker customers in pools, though it?s unclear if $138 billion in federal funds would be enough to subsidize states? costs. The liberal Center for American Progress estimated that Republicans would need to throw another $200 billion into the state pools over 10 years just to cover 3 percent of the 31 million people currently insured in small group and individual markets. A 2014 study said creating a national high-risk pool that covered 15 million people would cost $178 billion per year.

Both those estimates reflect what it would cost for high-risk pools to be effective in every state; Republicans say this is unfair because their legislation merely gives states the choice of creating such pools in lieu of Obamacare?s requirement to cover people with pre-existing conditions without charging them higher premiums. It?s not clear how many states would seek a waiver from Obamacare in order to do so.  

?I think they?re going to be under tremendous pressure from their insurance industry to get one of these waivers,? Sabrina Corlette, an expert with Georgetown University?s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, said in an interview. She pointed out that the Republican bill would also remove the Obamacare requirement that everyone either buy insurance or pay a penalty ? meaning insurance companies would probably lose some of their healthier, less expensive customers.

Given the uncertain funding, Corlette said states that do set up pools would probably look for ways to control costs through measures like imposing lifetime limits on benefit payouts and waiting periods for people with pre-existing conditions.

?It?s just an incredibly inefficient way and frankly fiscally irresponsible if the goal is truly to provide a safety net for people with pre-existing conditions,? Corlette said.

Congress tried to do high-risk pools on a large scale once before ? when it passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010 ? and the example isn?t encouraging. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, as it was known, operated in every state, even in states that already had their own pools. Democrats intended the program to serve as a stopgap measure for sick people before Obamacare?s insurance reforms took effect in 2014. It also served as the clearest demonstration of how hard it is to predict what will happen with a high-risk pool.

The $5 billion plan didn?t exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions, but it only accepted applicants who?d been uninsured for at least six months. The Obama administration figured a few hundred thousand would enroll, but only about 100,000 did ? and their claims were so expensive that the administration closed the program to new enrollment a year early.

For the people who do get insurance from high-risk pools, though, the programs can be lifesavers.

Jill Morin of Raleigh, North Carolina, spent about six months uninsured after her husband?s company, which provided insurance for their family of four, went out of business in 2011. Morin, a real estate agent, has heart disease and had suffered cardiac arrest in 2009. She assumed nobody would sell her a policy they could afford on her commissions.

?I couldn?t sleep at night,? Morin, 46, said in an interview. ?I was so scared of what might happen to me it also affected my performance in my job.?

When she found out North Carolina had a risk pool that offered premium subsidies for people with low incomes, she signed up immediately. At first, she was thrilled, but after paying about $600 in premiums per month, and not coming close to meeting her deductible, she was less thrilled.

?It just didn?t make sense,? she said. (Morin?s husband has since obtained a new job that provided health insurance.)  

Jeanette Hauser, 60, also heard about the North Carolina pool, which she thought sounded pretty good. There was just one problem: She lived in Arizona. 

She had previously had insurance through a statewide business association that allowed her to buy into a costly group plan, but the association announced it was going to stop offering it in 2013. She had a seizure disorder she controlled with medication, the result of a rare autoimmune disease, and knew she wasn?t going to have an easy time finding private insurance in Arizona.  

?I spent approximately 60 days putting together a spreadsheet, trying to figure out which state would allow me to get insurance by one technique or another,? Hauser said.

She and her husband decided to move to Raleigh, where she could apply for the state?s high-risk pool. Once she established residency, she applied for private insurance ? a prerequisite so she could then show pool administrators a rejection letter. But to her surprise, a North Carolina company actually accepted her application and offered several plans ? and she?s still covered by that company today.  

Hauser, a retired administrator for an accounting firm, said she and her husband are happy with their new home, even though they only moved there for the insurance. She?s not sorry she didn?t even have to use the state pool. At the time she moved, after all, state pools were facing upheaval from the Affordable Care Act, which itself has faced constant threats from Republicans in Congress.

?I was much more comfortable with taking a regular insurance plan,? she said.

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