in the dark
April 20, 2020

Hospitals and patients have been left in the dark as to how the White House plans to cover COVID-19 treatment costs for uninsured Americans, despite previous assurances. The Trump administration is still trying to finalize its plan, while struggling to answer questions like how to determine if a patient qualifies for funding, Politico reports.

President Trump announced in early April that that the federal government would reimburse hospitals that treat people without health insurance. The White House is reportedly determined to follow through on its promise, but that's little comfort at the moment for people who are wondering whether they'll be on the hook. “The thing that is totally missing is any explanation for patients,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a health law professor at George Washington University. "If you don't have to worry about getting care because the hospital is supposed to care for you, and the hospital bills you, what then? There has been absolutely no communication to the public."

Hospitals are similarly perplexed, and some are holding off on billing patients until they receive word from Washington, despite facing their own financial strains because of the pandemic. It appears the federal government is aware of the need to improve its messaging campaign, so everyone involved is knows that free coronavirus care is indeed the goal. "We have an eye to actual individuals, and don't want them to be afraid to seek care," a federal official told Politico, on condition of anonymity. Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

October 8, 2019

After finding out from the press that the Trump administration blocked a top diplomat from testifying before Congress on Tuesday, several Republican lawmakers went to the White House and asked that they not be blindsided again, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

The State Department ordered Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, not to testify as part of the House impeachment probe. Several of President Trump's biggest cheerleaders — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Penn.) — were waiting for Sondland to appear on Tuesday morning, and after learning that he wasn't coming, they headed to the White House to talk with Trump and his senior advisers about how they can improve their communication with his congressional defenders, Bloomberg News reports.

This isn't the first time lawmakers who want to help Trump have been left in the dark, several people said, and the senior advisers agreed that everyone should be on the same page regarding the impeachment strategy. Read more at Bloomberg News. Catherine Garcia

September 19, 2019

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) still doesn't know the contents of the whistleblower complaint reportedly about President Trump's communications with a foreign leader, and he's slamming the decision to withhold it from Congress.

Schiff and other members of the House Intelligence Committee met Thursday with Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson after reports that an intelligence community whistleblower filed a complaint in August about Trump making a troubling "promise" to a foreign leader; Atkinson marked the complaint of "urgent concern" before submitting it to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. Maguire didn't send the complaint to Congress after consulting with Justice Department officials, though; the House and Senate intelligence committees only learned of the complaint after Atkinson notified them.

But Schiff explained Thursday that they still don't actually know what's in the complaint or whether the recent reports about it are accurate, as Atkinson did not provide that information to Congress.

The director of national intelligence, Schiff said Thursday, "has made the unprecedented decision not to share the complaint with Congress," going on to say the Justice Department has been involved in the decision to withhold the information. Schiff, who said "there is no privilege to be corrupt," told reporters he doesn't know if the White House is also involved, although CNN reports it is.

"We can't get an answer because the Department of Justice, and the director of national intelligence, will not authorize the [inspector general] to tell us," Schiff said. "Someone is trying to manipulate the system to keep information about an urgent matter from the Congress."

December 18, 2018

How does President Trump plan on avoiding a partial government shutdown this Friday? Your guess, it seems, is as good as the rest of the GOP's.

Republican lawmakers are "in the dark" with three days left to go before the government would partially shut down if the president and Democratic leaders cannot agree on new funding, per The Washington Post. "If there is a plan ... I'm not aware of it," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Monday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Republicans that "we're waiting for" the White House.

But Republicans are "concerned" about this apparent "lack of strategy," CNN reports. "If the White House has a plan, they're keeping it to themselves," Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) noted.

The Washington Post reports the White House's legislative affairs team has come up with a plan to avoid a shutdown. It's unclear what this might be, but CNN notes that Trump seems to think he can "exert maximum pressure on Democrats" and compel them to agree to the $5 billion he has demanded for border wall funding; Democrats have said they will not agree to more than $1.6 billion for border security.

Republicans fear they would suffer the political consequences if a shutdown happens, especially after Trump explicitly stated in a meeting last week he'd be "proud" to see it happen and would "take the blame." Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads