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March 10, 2017

Things can get pretty loopy when Congress debates a bill for more than 12 hours straight — Wednesday night, for example, the House Ways and Means Committee featured a debate about taxing ice cream and sunlight. Over at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the other panel getting a first crack at the GOP's health-care bill, the debate lasted 27 hours, and while there was no discussion of solar taxation, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) did have a little debate about à la carte health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are proposing to replace, requires health insurance plans to cover certain core benefits, like hospital care, prescription drugs, and pregnancy and childbirth. Republicans were complaining about ObamaCare's "mandates," and Doyle asked GOP committee members to name one mandate they take issue with. “What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” Shimkus offered. "Is that not correct? And should they?"

This is not the first time House Republicans have asked about men having to buy maternity coverage, The Washington Post notes, and it isn't always men asking. Nancy Metcalf, an insurance expert and Consumer Reports columnist, answered the question in 2013:

Health insurance, like all insurance, works by pooling risks. The healthy subsidize the sick, who could be somebody else this year and you next year. Those risks include any kind of health care a person might need from birth to death — prenatal care through hospice. No individual is likely to need all of it, but we will all need some of it eventually.

So, as a middle-aged childless man you resent having to pay for maternity care or kids' dental care. Shouldn't turnabout be fair play? Shouldn't pregnant women and kids be able to say, "Fine, but in that case why should we have to pay for your Viagra, or prostate cancer tests, or the heart attack and high blood pressure you are many times more likely to suffer from than we are?" Once you start down that road, it's hard to know where to stop. If you slice and dice risks, eventually you don't have a risk pool at all, and the whole idea of insurance falls apart. [Consumer Reports]

Metcalf's answer also, incidentally, would have been helpful reading for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said this about ObamaCare on Thursday.

Health care, as President Trump says, is an "unbelievably complex subject." Peter Weber

5:33 p.m. ET
Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday released a revised report on the American Health Care Act, the Republican proposal to replace ObamaCare. The CBO's new estimate considers revisions made to the GOP health bill since the original report issued two weeks ago.

"This estimate shows smaller savings over the next 10 years than the estimate that CBO issued on March 13," the report reads, while "the estimated effects on health insurance coverage and on premiums for health insurance are similar to those estimated [originally]." The changes to the bill incorporate several manager's amendments, mostly pertaining to changes to Medicaid.

The CBO's original report estimated the American Health Care Act would leave 52 million uninsured by 2026, compared to just 28 million under ObamaCare. Thursday's report leaves that number unchanged, but says the revised bill would reduce the federal deficit by $150 billion, a decrease from the initially projected $337 billion in savings. Read the CBO's full revised report here. Kimberly Alters

4:01 p.m. ET
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

The news that Republican leadership canceled a planned Thursday night health-care bill vote had already spread like wildfire across the internet and TV, but one important person was still left in the dark: President Trump.

"Today the House is voting to repeal and replace the disaster known as ObamaCare," Trump said, not realizing that his statement was already outdated. "It's going to be a very close vote."

To be fair, he's been busy. Jeva Lange

3:38 p.m. ET

A GOP aide told the media Thursday afternoon that there will no longer be a vote Thursday on the Republican health-care bill, after hours of desperate vote-rallying by House leadership and the White House appeared to have fallen flat.

Earlier Thursday, roughly two dozen members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus announced they would not support the American Health Care Act, which was drafted by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Several Republicans outside the conservative caucus also indicated they would not vote for the measure, narrowing its chances of passage considerably; GOP leadership could not lose more than 22 Republican votes and still pass the bill.

The White House has thrown its support behind the bill, with President Trump meeting with the House Freedom Caucus on Thursday morning to attempt to strike a deal on the bill. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted earlier Thursday that as far as he knew, the vote would not be delayed and the bill would pass. "We continue to see the number [of Freedom Caucus members who support the bill] go up, not down," he said. Jeva Lange

2:49 p.m. ET

On Thursday afternoon, the conservative House Freedom Caucus announced it had not reached a deal in discussions with President Trump over the American Health Care Act, the Republican health-care bill that is expected to be put to a floor vote Thursday night. Losing the support of the conservative caucus narrows the bill's chances of passage considerably: Republican leadership cannot lose more than 22 Republican votes and still pass the bill through the lower chamber, but roughly two dozen Freedom Caucus members have said they would not support the plan. At the time of publication, NBC News' tally had a total of 31 "nos" from Republican congressmen.

"Something seismic would have to happen in the next few hours to turn this bill around," Politico estimates. "At this point, if a deal emerged, it would be very late tonight. In the midnight hour, perhaps."

But when questioned about the bill Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted it would pass. "We continue to see the number [of Freedom Caucus members who support the bill] go up, not down, and that's a very positive sign," he said.

The same cannot be said for American voters, a new Quinnipiac poll of 1,056 voters found. Fifty-six percent of American voters disapproved of the ObamaCare replacement, the poll found, while just 17 percent supported it. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Jeva Lange

2:32 p.m. ET
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The NCAA men's basketball tournament resumes Thursday with the regional semifinal games of the Sweet 16. Kicking the round off are the semifinal games for the Midwest and West regions.

In the Midwest, No. 3 Oregon and No. 7 Michigan face off at 7:09 p.m. ET in a clash of high-octane offenses. Later, the 9:39 p.m. ET matchup between No. 1 Kansas and No. 4 Purdue will feature two of the top big-men in college basketball in Kansas' Josh Jackson and Purdue's Caleb Swanigan.

In the West, No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 4 West Virginia battle at 7:39 p.m. ET, followed by No. 11 Xavier taking on No. 2 Arizona at 10:09 p.m. ET. Xavier is this year's Cinderella story, and given that the Musketeers are coached by Chris Mack — a former top assistant to current Arizona head coach Sean Miller — the matchup promises to provide plenty of intrigue.

The games for the West will be televised on TBS, while the Midwest contests will be broadcast on CBS. Regional semifinal games for the East and South take place Friday. Kimberly Alters

2:05 p.m. ET
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Sepsis is the number one disease that kills people in hospitals, and there is no known effective cure. But thanks to the quick thinking of Dr. Paul Marik of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, there soon could be, NPR reports.

When a 48-year-old woman suffering from severe sepsis came into his intensive care unit in January 2015, Marik decided to respond by administering intravenous vitamin C, mixed with a low dose of corticosteroids and thiamine, another vitamin. "I was expecting the next morning when I came to work she would be dead," Marik told NPR. "But when I walked in the next morning, I got the shock of my life." The woman was alive, Marik found — and recovering.

Marik has adopted the approach with all of his sepsis patients. He said that of 150 sepsis patients he has treated since the woman in January 2015, only one has died of the disease. The results are especially stunning given of the million Americans who get sepsis every year, 300,000 are expected to die. "That's the equivalent of three jumbo jets crashing every single day," Marik told NPR.

But as NPR notes: "This is not the standard way to evaluate a potential new treatment. Ordinarily, the potential treatment would be tested head to head with a placebo or standard treatment, and neither the doctors nor the patients would know who in the study was getting the new therapy." Other doctors have urged expectations to remain tempered: "[A result] can look really exciting when you do it on a group in one hospital with one set of clinicians, and then when you try to validate with a larger group in multiple centers — thus far we've been unsuccessful with anything," said top sepsis researcher Craig Coopersmith.

Marik's treatment is being explored through the traditional trial methods now, and could yield conclusions by the end of the year. Jeva Lange

1:30 p.m. ET
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The Senate voted 50-48 along party lines Thursday to repeal an Obama-era law that requires internet service providers to obtain permission before tracking what customers look at online and selling that information to other companies. The repeal is supported by major internet companies like Facebook and Google as well as internet providers like Verizon and AT&T, Vanity Fair reports, adding that there would likely be an option for consumers to opt out.

"There are two sides to this," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who is opposed to repealing consumers' privacy protections. "You want the entrepreneurial spirit to thrive, but you have to be able to say no, I don't want you in my living room. Yes, we're capitalists, but we're capitalists with a conscience."

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) spearheaded the effort to repeal the FCC's rules. "[The FCC's privacy order] is unnecessary, confusing, and adds yet another innovation-stifling regulation to the internet,” Flake told Wired. "My legislation is the first step toward restoring the [Federal Trade Commission's] light-touch, consumer-friendly approach."

The resolution now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass. The legislation would then need President Trump's signature to take effect. Jeva Lange

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