March 24, 2017 Last Updated 8:55 am

D-Day for the AHCA; LA office closing, layoffs for ‘Us Weekly’ following sale to AMI

Morning Brief: Speaker Paul Ryan and the president appear determined to hold a vote on Friday on their repeal and replace package, the question is whether the new bill can be severe and punishing enough to satisfy House conservatives

Today is D-Day in the House for Speaker Paul Ryan’s and President Donald Trump’s remake of the Affordable Care Act. Dubbed the American Health Care Act, it would do for health care in America what the Battle of the Somme did for World War I: leave a legacy of victims without solving the basic problem.

Nonetheless, both Ryan and Trump see only a disaster for their future plans should they face defeat today.

I have predicted passage. The reason being that the Republicans that oppose the new bill do so because they feel it does not go far enough in privatizing health care, it still leaves in place some subsidies, even if they are greatly reduced. Their vision is a health care system closer in look to the auto industry, where one buys the biggest car they can afford, if they can’t afford a car they walk or take a bus. Health care is a commodity no different than buying a television or a night on the town.

The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis , Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan:

Pass Health Bill or Obamacare Stays, Trump Tells the G.O.P.

President Trump issued an ultimatum on Thursday to recalcitrant Republicans to fall in line behind a broad health insurance overhaul or see their opportunity to repeal the Affordable Care Act vanish, demanding a Friday vote on a bill that appeared to lack a majority to pass…

…Although the House Republicans’ closed-door meeting became a cheerleading session for the bill, their leaders braced for a showdown on the floor, knowing they were likely to be at least a handful of votes short of a majority for the health insurance bill and would need to muscle their colleagues to the last to prevail.

Some conservatives were still concerned that the bill was too costly and did not do enough to roll back federal health insurance mandates. Moderates and others, meanwhile, were grappling with worries of their states’ governors and fretted that the loss of benefits would be too much for their constituents to bear.

Politico, Kyle Cheney, Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan:

Obamacare repeal vote too close to call

But a last-minute flurry of amendments blessed by the White House included a provision to scrap a core element of Obamacare: a set of required benefits insurers must offer, from maternity care to mental health coverage. Conservatives say axing those mandates will enable consumers to purchase cheaper plans and foster more competition.

But the Freedom Caucus also says it isn’t enough: they also want to strip the law’s remaining regulations, including a popular provision to guarantee coverage for people with preexisting conditions.

Fox News, Jeff Poor:

Coulter to Trump: Get Back to Immigration, Trade, Infrastructure, Building a Wall – Not Paul Ryan’s ‘Standard GOP Corporatist Stuff’

They seem to be Paul Ryan’s priorities, and also just the standard GOP corporatist stuff,” Coulter said. “What made Donald Trump stand apart from the crowd and apart from the crowd from every presidential candidate for 20 years was immigration, trade, infrastructure, building a wall. Obviously, that was very, very popular. A lot of people listen to all this time. Look, I like tax cuts. I’d love to have my taxes cut — 50 percent of people don’t even pay taxes. I think the bigger problem now is jobs. And I will not hold the emperor god responsible for this Obamacare-lite bill, but, oh for Pete’s sake. Am I the last person in America who understands the free market?”

“Sean Spicer was very good today explaining to idiot reporters, getting mandated coverage doesn’t mean insurance companies won’t cover it. It means Ann won’t be required to pay for 15 services more like 50 services that I have no interest in,” she continued.

This was the week that we were supposed to hear if Time Inc. would be sold off, or if tronc split up or if there was a shareholder revolt at tronc. But like the vote of AHCA, these things were postponed, though there could still be some sort of resolution today.

But this was still a busy week for media M&A. A quick tap of the menu above for Media M&A will show quite a number of deals announced this week. But the one from last week, the acquisition of Us Weekly by AMI is still in the news, and for the bad reasons you might expect: layoffs.

But if the sale to the publisher of National Enquirer, and a strong Trump supporter, was making the staff of the Wenner Media magazine nervous, they at least got in one last shot. This week’s cover story is about the Donald having to sleep in a separate bedroom from his wife.

NY Post, Keith Kelly:

Bloodbath at Us Weekly

On Thursday, 38 editorial people, including Us Weekly Editor-in-Chief Michael Steele, were told they are getting the old heave- ho, sources tell Media Ink.

But they have to keep working for the next few weeks until the deal officially closes and American Media Inc. delivers the $100 million check to Jann Wenner.

Meanwhile, AMI boss David Pecker and National Enquirer Editor-in-Chief Dylan Howard are inviting the 42 editorial people who survived the ax to lunch at swanky Le Bernardin on Friday to meet their new bosses.

Page Six, Oli Coleman:

Us Weekly closes West Coast office

American Media Inc. is closing Us Weekly’s West Coast bureau, Page Six has learned. Sources say 10 of the 11 staffers based in the celebrity weekly’s LA office have been laid off.

But veteran Us editor Rebecca Bienstock — who currently serves as the West Coast bureau chief — has been offered the chance to move to the company’s New York offices.

In states where Republicans are in power, there is a campaign of sorts to change the rules surrounding legal notices. The argument for the change is always the same: that most people get their information online today, and that the removal of the requirement to publish a public notice in a newspaper will save money

These are actually good arguments, in my opinion, but it is not a coincidence that these proposed bills only seem to be coming up in GOP controlled states. It is hard to see this as anything other than an attack on newspapers.

A good example is the law being proposed in North Carolina. It not only would allow local governments to stop paying newspapers for public notices, it would then force those same newspapers to post the notices online for free.

It would be nice to see some sort of compromise on this issue. It is true that, more and more, people get their information online. But it is also in the public interest that notices be seen by as large a percentage of the community as possible, and that these notices are seen through third party publications in order to promote government transparency.

Burlington Times-News, Bill Cresenzo:

Bill could end public, legal notices in newspapers

Calling it a matter of the public’s right know, North Carolina newspaper publishers are pushing back against a bill that would let governments and attorneys stop publishing public and legal notices in newspapers.

N.C. Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford, the bill’s sponsor, says it’s a move into the modern age and would save taxpayers money…

…The bill sponsored by Wade, along with Sens. Wesley Meredith, R- Cumberland, and Dan Bishop, R-Mecklenburg, would let local governments post public notices on their websites instead of paying to place them in newspapers.

The bill would require newspapers that do run public notices in their print editions to post them on their websites for free, according to Wade’s office. The bill also would save tax dollars by forbidding newspapers from charging more than 85 percent of the original rate for notices that must be published twice, her office said.

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