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April 28, 2014

Today, Aaron Carroll over at The Incidental Economist takes a look at France's healthcare system, widely regarded as the best in the world:

One thing that he emphasizes that I don't think people tend to fully grasp is how, when it comes to the United States, we pay dramatically more than almost every other nation and have almost nothing to show for it. France has an incredibly luxurious system, one that will pay for just about any kind of treatment you can dream up, and correspondingly shells out quite a bit for it. In America, by contrast, we pay half again as much per person, but the system is incredibly stingy compared to France.

We might just have something to learn here. Ryan Cooper

5:26 p.m. ET
Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump on Tuesday called a last-minute meeting of Republican senators at the White House, during which he declared that he'd really like for them to pass the GOP-backed health-care bill. "[W]e have a chance to do something very, very important for the public — very, very important for the people of our country that we love," Trump said in the meeting, which took place hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he was delaying a vote on the health-care bill due to a lack of support.

But ever the careful negotiator, Trump avoided being too pushy about insisting Republicans get the bill through the Senate. "This will be great if we get it done," Trump said. "And if we don't get it done, it's just going to be something that we're not going to like. And that's okay, and I understand that very well."

When asked for his opinion on the Senate bill — under which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 than under current law — Trump insisted it was "going to be great." Becca Stanek

4:55 p.m. ET
Leon Neal/Getty Images

Time to give your thumbs a break. Well, one thumb, at least: Apple's latest software update, iOS 11, will include a one-handed keyboard mode. Scheduled to launch in full this fall, iOS 11 made its public debut in beta Monday.

This one-handed typing feature will allow users to nudge the keyboard to either side of the iPhone screen, making it easier for a single thumb to access all of the keys. Users will be able to access the one-handed keyboard by simply holding down the globe icon in the bottom left corner of the keyboard and selecting which side they'd like their keyboard to be shifted to. The keyboard will then stay on that side of the screen until the user moves it back.

Apple is a little behind the times, however: Third-party keyboards have had one-handed modes for years now. Moreover, the one-sided keyboard only works when the iPhone is held vertically, and the function has not yet been developed for the iPad. Lucy Friedmann

4:42 p.m. ET
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Scientists may have uncovered a way to track the ever-evolving flu virus buried in 10-year-old snot. In an effort to understand how the flu virus rapidly mutates — which leaves scientists constantly scrambling to come up with a new flu vaccine — researchers decided to study four cancer patients' snot, which had been collected a decade ago and frozen.

Because cancer patients tend to come down with the flu for a longer period of time than healthy individuals, the scientists had a longer window of time to observe the mutating virus. In healthy humans, the immune system typically eradicates the flu virus before it undergoes too much mutation, making it harder to track what is coming next in the flu's evolution.

The team "deep sequenced for all the different mutants of one strain of flu called H3N2," Wired reports. Initially, biochemist Jesse Bloom said the research team expected "the type of evolution that flu undergoes in any individuals ... might end up being very idiosyncratic."

Instead, they saw similar mutations occurring in the viruses within each of the patients' snot — even though the patients weren't all sick at the same time. Moreover, some of those mutations ended up being the same mutations that occurred worldwide in flu outbreaks just years later. Those four patients "were microcosms for the great world when it came to flu evolution," The Atlantic explained.

The continued deep sequencing of mutations in patients with drawn-out flu infections — a group that also includes pregnant women, children, and obese people — could help scientists get a step ahead of next year's flu. Becca Stanek

4:40 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday afternoon that he would delay a vote on the GOP health-care bill that has been presented in the upper chamber, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act. McConnell had held steady to the idea of holding a vote before the July 4th recess, but after at least 10 senators voiced opposition to the bill, McConnell was forced to hold off on a vote until after the holiday break.

And just like that, with the coast cleared and the vote off the table, three more Republican senators decided to announce their opposition to the bill. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), two more moderate conservatives, issued a joint statement on the bill, saying they could not support its cuts to Medicaid and its lack of funding to combat the opioid epidemic:

Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.), meanwhile, issued a short statement saying the Senate bill "missed the mark":

BuzzFeed News' Paul McLeod predicted that the bill will either pass the upper chamber "by one vote, or fail by a lot. I think a bunch of [senators] would like it to fail, but don't want to be the deciding vote." Kimberly Alters

2:28 p.m. ET

At least four of President Trump's golf clubs display a fake, framed Time magazine with Trump on the cover, The Washington Post reports. The issue purports to be from "March 1, 2009," even though there is no March 1, 2009 issue of Time.

"I can confirm that this is not a real Time cover," the magazine's spokeswoman, Kerri Chyka, told The Washington Post.

There are a number of giveaways that the cover is a fake, including its skinny border and exclamation points ("Time headlines don't yell"). "So how did Trump — who spent an entire campaign and much of his presidency accusing the mainstream media of producing 'fake news' — wind up decorating his properties with a literal piece of phony journalism?" The Washington Post asks.

It isn't clear — neither the White House nor the Trump Organization offered an answer. But Trump takes unabashed pride in his Time covers, both real and fake, boasting incorrectly on the campaign trail that "I think we have the all-time record [of cover photos] in the history of Time magazine."

Read more about the fake cover, and how it got hung in the clubs, at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

2:03 p.m. ET
Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

Due to a lack of votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has decided to delay the Senate vote on the GOP health-care plan. McConnell, who was pushing for a vote this week, told senators Tuesday that he now plans to hold the vote after the July 4 recess in hopes of rallying more support in the extra time.

Six Republicans have come out against the bill, while four have expressed concerns. McConnell can only afford two defections.

Meanwhile, Republican senators have been invited to the White House for a last-minute meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss health care. Becca Stanek

1:39 p.m. ET

Stock in an Australian biotech company that was questionably promoted to members of the House by Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) plummeted from $1.77 a share to just 5 cents on Tuesday, after the company announced its multiple sclerosis drug had failed trials, The Buffalo News reports. "The news is dire for both the company and investors," Australia's Money Morning wrote, as shareholders' hopes had hinged on the promising drug's success.

Collins is the firm's biggest shareholder; he owns about a fifth of the company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, with his two children. He personally lost $17 million Tuesday, Bloomberg reports.

"Sophisticated investors know there's a risk and as you now know, there was never any inside information that would indicate otherwise," Collins told The Buffalo News, defending his decision to promote the company's stock to his colleagues.

The Buffalo News added:

...Unusual trading activity Friday "suggests that somebody with knowledge of the results was front-running the announcement," [analyst Sean] O'Neill said. "That’s something I'd hope the regulator will be looking closer at."

Collins told The Buffalo News Tuesday morning that he did not sell any of his shares in Innate before its price collapsed. [The Buffalo News]

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a former congressman from Georgia, invested in Innate Immunotherapeutics at Collins' suggestion, a topic that was raised and criticized during his confirmation hearing earlier this year. Collins had reportedly bragged "off the House floor … about how he had made people millionaires from a stock tip." Price sold his shares in February for $250,000. Jeva Lange

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