Senator John McCain returned to the Senate Chamber on Tuesday to cast a deciding vote allowing the legislative body to begin debating a bill put together behind closed doors by Republicans that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Health industry professionals have overwhelmingly supported Republicans seeking federal office, and one could imagine McCain and others who benefit from that support might push policy that would be more financially beneficial to their benefactors.
Healthcare providers are among the top 5 contributors by industry to McCain’s campaign coffers, having given $7,184,854 since 1989, according to OpenSecrets.org.
A full list of donors in the health and insurance industries provided by FollowTheMoney.org reveals that USAA, Humana, Liberty Mutual, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Cigna Corp, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors and others have been top donors to McCain throughout his career, providing as much as $20,000 (USAA’s contribution) each to his campaigns.
The Pentagon spent $84 million on erectile disfunction medications in 2014, 10 times the estimated annual medical costs for transgender services.
Military Times reported in 2015 that the military spent $84 million on erectile disfunction medications such as Viagra and Cialis the year before. Meanwhile, a 2016 Rand Corporation study estimated that the maximum annual medical costs for transgender military members would be around $8.4 million, Business Insider reports.
“You’re talking about .000001% of the military budget,” being spent on transgender services, Navy SEAL veteran Kristin Beck, who is transgender, told Business Insider.
President Trump announced Wednesday on Twitter his decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military “in any capacity.” He cited the “tremendous” costs for providing medical services for transgender troops.
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you,” Trump tweeted.
His announcement sparked widespread condemnation from members of both parties, including Republicans who broke with the president to speak out against the ban.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican lawmakers are hashing out potential health care plans, though a repeal-only and a repeal-and-replace option have failed in the last two days. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Senate Republicans have at least narrowed the options on what comes next for the Affordable Care Act — casting two separate votes since Tuesday that knocked out a “repeal-only” proposal and rejected a plan for replacement.
So, as lawmakers resume debate on Thursday, they will be staring at basically one possibility: a so-called “skinny repeal” that would surgically remove some key provisions from Obamacare, while leaving the rest intact — at least for now.
The skinny repeal would take out requirements for individuals and employers to get health insurance — a feature that is central to the Affordable Care Act’s goal of expanding risk pools and lowering costs. The GOP plan would get rid of the medical device tax, intended as a revenue source to fund the current health law. The proposal would also eliminate a public health fund provision.
Senators have already rejected the Better Care Reconciliation Act replacement plan and a repeal-only proposal so far. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the Better Care Reconciliation Act would have left 22 million more people uninsured by 2026, whereas simply repealing Obamacare without an immediate replacement would have resulted in 32 million more without health care insurance in the same time frame. The CBO estimated on Wednesday, at the request of Democrats, that a skinny repeal could result in 16 million more uninsured.
Nine GOP senators said no to the Better Care Reconciliation Act on Tuesday: Susan Collins of Maine, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mike Lee of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Earlier attempts to get that bill to the floor were stalled by a lack of support.
Collins and Murkowski, who voted Tuesday against even proceeding to debate, also came out against the repeal-only proposal on Wednesday. They were joined by Republicans Heller, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, John McCain of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
“I’m for repeal and replace, and we’re going to continue to work on replacement,” Portman said after Wednesday’s vote.
The ultimate outcome of both votes had been a foregone conclusion, says NPR’s Susan Davis. “This was really an exercise about forcing senators to lay their cards down on the table,” she tells All Things Considered. “We didn’t know where a lot of these senators were as a hard yes or no.”
As the debate moves forward, the Senate’s skinny repeal could be completely rewritten through the amendment process — and that is likely to play out over the next week, says Davis.
Republicans and Democrats alike will be able to offer unlimited amendments, as long as they’re germane to health care. “We expect hundreds of them will be offered to the bill. They will be whittled down from there,” Davis says. It’s a process known in the Senate as “vote-a-rama.”
Once that happens, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to take stock again to see which GOP senators he needs to get in line in order to pass a fully amended skinny repeal.
“The working strategy for Republicans is to get a lowest-common denominator — something they can all agree on in order to get enough support to move it to a conference committee,” where differences would have to be settled with the House, Davis says. Throughout the health care debate, Republican leadership has faced disagreement from both moderate and conservative members about how to proceed.
Democrats, meanwhile, are universally opposed to both measures and therefore sidelined in the debate. But one amendment proposed by Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., calls for a single-payer system — a move designed to get Democrats on the record. Some — such as Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who typically caucuses with Democrats — would be happy to support the measure, whereas others facing tough re-election battles in 2018 might be less enthusiastic.
Courtesy of Universal Pictures – ‘Back to the Future II’. Image: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/back-future-ii-a-legal-833705
The inside story of Crispin Glover’s lawsuit over George McFly: Was an actor hired to mimic another actor playing a character?
Yes, there were hoverboards, drones, wearable tech, videoconferencing and even a baseball team in Miami. Back to the Future Part II also brought back George McFly, the father of the protagonist traveling to Oct. 21, 2015, which as everybody knows, is this date in history.Except George McFly wasn’t played by the same actor, Crispin Glover, who appeared in the first film. Glover didn’t like the sequel’s script, and so he threw out a $1 million demand to reprise the role. The filmmakers refused, and so they took a face mold of Glover that was created during the first film to help out the makeup artists, hired a different actor, Jeffrey Weissman, and through the use of prosthetics, made it appear as though the same thespian was performing the part.
Back to the Future II is today being celebrated as visionary in many respects, but let’s not forget the legal drama that ensued after this happened. The 1990 lawsuit that Glover filed against Universal Pictures for violating his right of publicity predated other famous cases including Vanna White’s lawsuit over a Wheel of Fortune robot hostess in a blond wig and Gwen Stefani’s legal action over a digital avatar in the Band Hero video game. Glover’s case never got far enough in the court to set legal precedent, but it is often invoked when actors like Fast & Furious star Paul Walker become indisposed and filmmakers contemplate tricky ways to resurrect performances. The advance of technologies like holograms, with the potential of reviving dead stars and allowing living ones to be in multiple places, tends to invite discussion of wonderful possibilities and legal limits. Enter Glover and his unwitting participation in a film for the ages — and a lawsuit that Philip K. Dick would have loved.
“Had they only hired another actor, which is kind of what I thought had happened, that would have been totally legal, and I would have been completely fine with it,” said Glover in a radio interview last year, pointing out that the film switched the actresses playing Marty McFly’s girlfriend without resorting to prosthetics.
The use of an old face mold went too far.
Glover sued, and according to Doug Kari, his attorney at the time, the complaint itself was purposefully short and simple.
“I kept the factual details out of the complaint, preferring that we hold our cards close to the vest,” says Kari. “Having interviewed Jeffrey Weissman, the replacement actor, in the privacy of my office, I knew that we held some aces.”
Kari says that Weissman had gone to Glover feeling a bit disturbed by the role and what was happening on the set of Back to the Future II. There, others were referring to him as “Crispin.” (Weissman wasn’t available to comment.)
“Jeffrey told me a story that one day, [executive producer] Steven Spielberg walked on set and laughed and said, ‘Hey Crispin, I see you got your million,’ ” says Kari. “To me, those anecdotes showed they were trying to take Crispin’s persona.”
Universal filed a demurrer, arguing that the publicity rights claim should fail because the filmmakers were only trying to perpetuate the George McFly character. As the dispute heated up, Glover and Kari began to have conversations with each other about the future of computer graphic technology and how what was being done to Glover might impact other actors. The argument was passed along to the judge.
“What I said to the judge was, ‘Things may happen in the future that will make this important,’ ” says Kari. “We need to draw a line.”
The judge rejected Universal’s bid to toss the lawsuit. What’s more, she agreed to let Kari depose director Robert Zemeckis, screenwriter Bob Gale, actor Michael J. Fox, Spielberg and others. The plaintiff also wanted a complete accounting of the finances of Back to the Future II because a demand was being made for a share of the film’s profits.
Taking the parties into chambers, the judge strongly urged settlement. A deal was indeed made, reportedly for $760,000 at the behest of the company that insured Universal. (Attorneys wouldn’t confirm the amount.)
The settlement unfortunately left a lot of uncertainty as to where the proper line is. Studios often recast roles. Hiring an actor that looks like a predecessor might be fine. Hiring an actor that is made up to look like a predecessor might not be. The line is blurry to say the least.
When Glover brought his case, the U.S. Supreme Court had already affirmed the value of a performer’s right of publicity. The high court examined a man named Hugo Zacchini who performed a human cannonball act suing a local Ohio TV station for showing his act. “The broadcast of a film of petitioner’s entire act poses a substantial threat to the economic value of that performance,” wrote Justice Bryan White.
In the years that followed Glover’s lawsuit, there would be substantive developments in the law. In 2001, looking at an artist who sold lithographs bearing the faces of the Three Stooges, the California Supreme Court put forward a test of “whether the depiction or imitation of the celebrity is the very sum and substance of the work in question.” Ten years later, examining Stefani’s lawsuit against Activision over a digital avatar, a California appeals court refined the test toward an examination into the transformative nature of the work, agreeing with the singer’s contention that motion-captured re-creations of her likeness was too “realistic” to qualify as such. Earlier this year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals considered that ruling when reviving a case brought by former professional football players suing over Madden NFL. It’s a decision that’s now being petitioned for review by the Supreme Court.
The Glover case was similar to Stefani’s with respect to a performer who once did something (agreeing to perform) without any expectation or contractual understanding of how it would later be used. Regarding Back to the Future II, the parties struggled to elucidate the difference between perpetuating character and ripping off someone’s identity. Glover found enough of a legal advantage to advance, and had the case gone to trial, his lawyer would have shown a jury the way in which the movie spliced together clips from the original film showing Glover with remade clips of an actor posing as Glover being George McFly. The case didn’t get there because of the settlement, but maybe the dispute had some psychological impact on those involved. Zemeckis, for example, would go on to helm Forrest Gump, which spliced historical footage to create the illusion that the main character was meeting Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.
In recent years, Glover has taken credit for changing Screen Actors Guild rules on the illicit use of actors. Kari believes that’s accurate, though a spokesperson for SAG-AFTRA says the guild can’t identify changes to its agreements. Nevertheless, the Glover case did raise quite a bit of consciousness throughout Hollywood about the possibilities and risks of reusing an actor’s performance and has become quite excellent shorthand for the types of publicity rights disputes inherent in new technologies. It’s quite amazing that the Chicago Cubs are making a World Series run this year, but nobody should forget the unintentionally visionary nature of the George McFly character in the film.