While you weren't looking, the Senate started trying to fix Obamacare for the first time.

On July 25, 2017, as Congress' zillionth (or so it seemed) attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare was careening gently off a cliff into a bed of spikes, Sen. John McCain rose to the Senate floor and delivered a clarion call for bipartisanship.

"Let's trust each other," the maverick Republican legislator cried. "Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle."


Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

It was a stirring speech. A vital speech. A speech that, coming directly on the heels of McCain's vote to advance a bill that was being written by a group of Republicans in secret, seemed kind of like bullshit.

But now, not two months after the dust from the GOP's last, best shot at the law finally settled, it actually might be ... happening?

For the first time in seven years, Democrats and Republicans are trying to figure out how to patch up the Affordable Care Act. Together.

The result of the effort, if successful, would be the first major bipartisan change to the law since it was passed in 2010.

At least one Republican senator — Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander — is trying to make it happen by next week, according to the Washington Examiner.

OK, but just because it's bipartisan doesn't mean it's a good idea. What are they actually trying to do?

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Something very minor, but hey! Under the current law, the U.S. government pays health insurance companies to keep individual premiums down. President Trump has repeatedly threatened to stop these payments.

Alexander, Sen. Patty Murray, and others on the HELP Committee are trying to come up with a "stopgap" package that can continue the funding without having to rely on Trump, preventing premiums from spiking.

That sounds nice! But ... they must disagree on some stuff?

They sure do!

Alexander wants to roll back some of the ACA's essential health benefit requirements, which dictate what plans have to cover. Murray, meanwhile, hopes to properly fund reinsurance, in order to help insurers pay out claims to the sickest individuals.

They do, however, seem committed to reaching a deal.

Great, so everything's good now!

Not exactly. The same John McCain who righteously urged bipartisanship just two months ago? He just announced his support for a new "repeal and replace" bill that would "block grant" Medicaid to the states, potentially amounting to huge cuts to the program.

The Arizona senator told The Hill that, despite his earlier words, crafting the bill without Democratic input "doesn't mean I wouldn't vote for it." That doesn't just put the current bipartisan effort in jeopardy, but it potentially provides another last-ditch avenue to gut the law completely.

Still, for the first time in what feels like forever, it seems Congress might take July John McCain's advice and start working together again.

Sens. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee). Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Working, that is, to try to make things better, not worse, for sick people.

Sound good to you? Give 'em a call and make sure they stick to it.

Fingers crossed, knock on wood, throw salt over your shoulder, punch a Komodo dragon they don't get any ideas from September John McCain.

Update 9/6/2017: McCain later clarified his position on the Graham-Cassidy proposal through a spokesperson, noting that while he endorses the "concept," he is waiting to see a bill before committing his support.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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