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Kimmel tells viewers: ‘We have until Sept. 30′ to stop GOP health bill

Jimmy Kimmel is pictured. | Getty Images

Jimmy Kimmel devoted another seven minutes of his monologue to criticizing legislation backed by Sen. Bill Cassidy. | Rich Polk/Getty Images for Waterkeeper Alliance

Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday said it’s not his job to talk about health care — but he’s doing it anyway, until Senate Republicans’ last-ditch bill to repeal Obamacare is stopped.

“I should not be the guy you go to for information on health care,” the late-night TV host said on Thursday’s show. “And if these guys … would tell the truth for a change, I wouldn’t have to.”

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Kimmel devoted another seven minutes of his monologue to criticizing legislation backed by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), his onetime ally and guest, while urging Americans to call Congress and tell their senators to oppose the proposal. Kimmel also sharply mocked several Republicans, including President Donald Trump, who say the bill will improve health care. Kimmel instead said that it could roll back key insurance protections and lead to millions of Americans losing their coverage.

“We have until Sept. 30 to dodge this,” Kimmel said, referencing the deadline when the Senate’s budget reconciliation provisions expire. After that date, Republicans will need 60 votes, not 50, to pass an Obamacare repeal measure.

Kimmel has now focused more than 24 minutes of his program across the past three nights on the health care fight, emerging as the celebrity face of the resistance to Republicans’ bill. Kimmel has also been much louder, longer, than other high-profile Americans as Republicans try to win enough support for their repeal effort. Trump has confined his public comments to tweeting several times, while former President Barack Obama briefly criticized the bill in a reserved, indirect way, saying in a speech on Wednesday that he was frustrated about Republicans’ effort to repeal his signature law.

Kimmel first got involved in the nation’s health care fight after he delivered an emotional monologue in May about his newborn son’s surgery for a rare heart condition, and how the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, similarly provided for people with pre-existing conditions. Cassidy appeared on Kimmel’s show later that month, pledged to protect people with pre-existing conditions, and in frequent media appearances touted his package of reforms as “the Jimmy Kimmel test.”

Although their war of words escalated this week — with Kimmel calling Cassidy a liar and the Louisiana senator countering that Kimmel didn’t “understand” his bill — Kimmel tried to distance himself from those attacks, saying that he respects Cassidy’s career as a physician. “He’s done good things,” Kimmel said. “I just want him to keep doing good things. This plan is not a good thing.”

Kimmel repeatedly acknowledged that he’s not an expert on health care. “You know, a lot of people have been saying I’m not qualified to talk about this,” Kimmel said. “And that is true – I’m not qualified to talk about this. But I think those people forget Bill Cassidy named his test after me!”

Analysts from a range of health care organizations earlier this week told POLITICO that Kimmel, not Cassidy, was more accurately describing the reach of the bill.

The funnyman repeatedly tried to use humor to lighten up his serious remarks.

“We haven’t seen this many people come forward to speak out against a Bill since Cosby,” Kimmel said, with the logos of about 20 health care organizations that oppose the bill, like the American Cancer Society, arrayed behind him.

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The G.O.P. Bill Forces States to Build Health Systems From Scratch …

The language of the bill provides them with a nearly unlimited range of policy options to use the money in the service of providing health care access, and no templates or fallback options.

Republican governors from 15 states have endorsed the bill, saying that “adequately funded, flexible block grants to the states are the last, best hope to finally repeal and replace Obamacare.”

States could use the money in any number of ways: state insurance programs, subsidies for private insurance, direct payments to health providers, high-risk pools or more. They would be free to preserve the central consumer protections created by Obamacare, or to decide to allow insurers to limit benefits or charge higher prices to sicker customers than healthier ones.

The challenges would fall into two major categories. First, states would need to make political choices about what they want their system to look like. Next, they would need to submit applications, hire contractors and build new systems to run them. Neither would be easy.

The bill would make health care an active, high-stakes political debate in all 50 states. Under Obamacare, states had limited, rather binary policy choices, and even those were hard for state governments to make quickly. States had to decide whether to run their own insurance marketplaces or to let the federal government do it for them. After a Supreme Court ruling in 2012, they had a choice about whether to expand their Medicaid programs to cover more childless adults, or to stick with their prior programs. Many states took longer than two years to answer even those comparatively simple questions.


Mitt Romney, then the governor of Massachusetts, signing the state’s landmark health care bill into law in 2006.

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Consider, for example, a state like Virginia, where a Democrat sits in the governor’s office but Republicans run the legislature. Political consensus might prove elusive. Fights could erupt even among more politically homogeneous states that support Obamacare. One house of the California legislature recently voted to adopt a single-payer health care system. The flexibility presented by the bill might open a heated debate about whether to adopt such an approach — or build something more like the Affordable Care Act, which is currently working well there. There are also the challenges of state legislative calendars: Texas’ legislature, for example, is not scheduled to convene until 2019.

“In some ways, a clean slate is much more complicated than very discrete decisions,” said Larry Levitt, an executive vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health research group. Mr. Levitt described the challenges facing states under this legislation as “formidable.”


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In contrast with an earlier bill from Mr. Cassidy, which offered a default option for uncertain states, there is no backup plan in the bill. The Obamacare coverage programs would disappear everywhere in 2020, and any state unable to make a plan and submit an application would be ineligible for the new grant funding. If a state succeeds in obtaining the funding but doesn’t have a functioning new system on Jan. 1, 2020, consumers and markets would be thrown into chaos.

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Under the bill’s block grant formula, Mississippi would be one of the biggest winners, eligible for substantially more health care money than it gets now. Still, Mike Chaney, the state’s insurance commissioner, said that he was wary about the change. “Which evil do you like better, the one you know or the one you don’t know?” Mr. Chaney said. “There are better ways to do this.”

Once states choose a policy approach, they would need to bring it to life. If they adopt a government-run approach, in which people can enroll in a single public health plan, they will need to develop the parameters for that program and put it out to bid. If they select something similar to Obamacare — some sort of insurance market with income-based subsidies — they will need technology systems that allow them to verify people’s eligibility and income, and link state assistance with their insurance purchases.

Most states have lengthy contracting processes, in which they must request proposals and review multiple bids before signing up vendors. Those deals would need to be in place before any software building begins. The Obama administration had nearly four years to develop and build its enrollment system,, which barely functioned at the outset.

Peter Lee, the executive director of the California marketplace, Covered California, which is considered one of the country’s most successful, said that his system was barely finished in time, and he had the ability to call up local technology C.E.O.s for advice.

Andy Slavitt, who joined the Obama administration in 2014 to help rebuild the ailing, and is strongly opposed to the Republican bill, said it would be close to impossible for most states to build meaningful systems for providing health insurance on such a timeline. “This is a fantasy document developed without the benefit of talking to people who have actually had to operationalize these things before,” he said.

Passage of the bill would set off a state rush for help from the limited group of contractors who have built big systems. Mike Leavitt, a Republican who was Secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush, and a governor of Utah, now runs a consulting firm that helps states build and manage exchanges. He said he supported the general idea of giving states more power.

He was optimistic that some states could adopt out-of-the-box systems within two years, but probably not all. “There are different levels of complexity involved in states, and there’s different levels of capacity, and there’s different levels of experience,” he said.

Many experts I spoke with were confident that most states would find some way to get the federal money, given how big the stakes were. They were less sure about whether states would be able to use it in a way that would provide health coverage quickly to the people currently served by Obamacare.

“The metaphor I think about is it’s saying, ‘We’re going to continue having a freeway full of fast-moving cars, but we’re going to remove the lane line and the speed limits and say we hope things work out,’ ” Mr. Lee said.

Abby Goodnough contributed reporting.

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GOP health bill offers provisions aimed at helping 2 states

Provisions shoehorned into the Republican health care bill dangle extra money for Alaska and Wisconsin, home states of one GOP senator whose vote party leaders desperately need and another who co-sponsored the legislation, according to analysts who’ve studied the legislation.

The 140-page measure, which top Republicans hope to push through the Senate next week, is stuffed with language making some states winners and others losers. Aides say the legislation is still changing as leaders hunt the 50 GOP “yes” votes they’ll need to turn this summer’s jarring Senate rejection of the party’s crusade to erase President Barack Obama’s law into an eleventh-hour triumph.

Alaska is home to GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who’s among a handful of Republicans who’ve not said how they’ll vote. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., is one of the bill’s co-sponsors and his support is not in question, but the episode suggests the value of helping craft of legislation.

The bill was chiefly written by GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. It would end Obama’s Medicaid expansion and subsidies for people buying private insurance and combine the money into new block grants for states.

With all Democrats opposed, Republicans controlling the Senate 52-48 can lose only two votes if they are to succeed, leaving the bill’s fate uncertain. Generally, it would shift money from states that expanded their Medicaid programs for the poor under Obama’s statute, which tend to be run by Democrats, to the largely Republican-run states that shunned that expansion.

The measure would shield Alaska from some cuts it imposes on Medicaid, according to analysts, including from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, by limiting spending to a maximum amount per beneficiary starting in 2020. The federal-state program for low earners has always automatically provided whatever money is needed for eligible recipients. Montana would also qualify for the exemption.

It would also increase federal Medicaid funds for states with high American Indian populations, including Alaska, according to health care consultant April Grady.

Analysts offered no figures about how much money the provisions would mean for Alaska.

The provisions hardly ensure support from Murkowski, who’s said she’s studying how the measure would affect her state. The administration was pushing for her support, with Vice President Mike Pence calling into an Anchorage talk-radio show Thursday and urging listeners to contact Murkowski and ask her to “stand with President Trump” and support the bill.

According to studies released this week by Kaiser and the consulting firm Avalere Health, Alaska is among many states that would lose money overall under the bill. Alaska has unusually high health care costs because of the remoteness of many communities.

The provisions do not mention Alaska or Wisconsin by name.

But the bill allows a state that turned down extra federal funds to expand Medicaid under Obama’s statute to count the rejected money in determining how large its block grant will be, analysts say.

Grady, Avalere analyst Chris Sloan and others said they were unaware of states other than Wisconsin that would benefit from the provision. This language could mean “potentially hundreds of millions” of extra dollars for Wisconsin, said Grady.

In a written statement provided by aides, Johnson said funding formulas to correct “the grossly unfair” distribution of money under Obama’s law needed to be changed “to reflect the unique circumstances of many states, including recognizing the innovative reforms of Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin is among 19 states that declined to fully expand Medicaid under Obama’s law, which also provided generous federal reimbursements. Under Gov. Scott Walker, a GOP 2016 presidential contender, Wisconsin just partially expanded Medicaid and agreed to accept smaller federal subsidies.

The provision in the health care bill applies to states that expanded Medicaid only up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level and had that expansion in effect this past Sept. 1.

Since the bill’s details emerged, health industry and other groups have been lining up against it.

The National Association of Medicaid Directors, representing state officials who administer Medicaid, said it is concerned the measure would have damaging consequences on state budgets. Also announcing opposition recently was America’s Health Insurance Plans, a huge health insurers’ trade group, the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association.


Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed.

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Jimmy Kimmel eviscerates GOP, Fox News host with fiery health care bill takedown

It’s difficult to pull just one soundbite from Jimmy Kimmel‘s explosive takedown of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill and those hawking it, because the late-night host had choice words for Senator Bill Cassidy (the bill’s co-sponsor), Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and President Donald Trump.

“So last night on our show, a senator from Louisiana, Bill Cassidy, I took him to task for promising to my face that he would oppose any health care plan that allowed insurance companies to turn people with pre-existing conditions away, and any health care plan that had an annual or lifetime cap on how much they would pay out for medical care,” Kimmel began on his show Wednesday night. “He said anything he supported would have to pass what he named ‘The Jimmy Kimmel Test,’ which was fine, it was good, but unfortunately — and puzzlingly — he proposed a bill that would allow states to do all the things he said he would not let them do. He made a total about-face, which means that he either doesn’t understand his own bill or he lied to me. It’s as simple as that.”

Cassidy went on CNN Wednesday morning and said of Kimmel’s initial remarks, “I’m sorry he does not understand [the bill].” What ensued was Kimmel’s epic rebuttal.

“Oh, I get it. I don’t understand because I’m a talk-show host, right? Well then, help me out. Which part don’t I understand?” he said. “Is it the part where you cut $243 billion from federal health-care assistance? Am I not understanding the part where states would be allowed to let insurance companies price you out of coverage for having pre-existing conditions? Maybe I don’t understand the part of your bill in which federal funding disappears completely after 2026; or maybe it was the part where the plans are no longer required to pay for essential health benefits, like maternity care or pediatric visits; or the part where the American Medical Association, The American College of Physicians, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Hospital Association, The American Cancer Society, The American Diabetes Association, The American Heart Association, Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis, ALS, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and The March of Dimes, among many others, all vehemently oppose your bill.”

“Which part of that am I not understanding?” he continued. “Or could it be, Senator Cassidy, that the problem is that I do understand and that you got caught with your G-O-Penis out? Is that possible? Because it feels like it is.”

Kimmel then turned his attention to Kilmeade, who called the late-night personality one of the “Hollywood elites” “pushing their politics on the rest of the country.” The reason Kimmel found this remark “particularly annoying,” he claimed, was because Kilmeade “kisses my ass like a little boy meeting Batman” whenever they see each other.

“Oh, he’s such a fan. I think he’s been to the show, he follows me on Twitter, he asked me to write a blurb for his book — which I did — he calls my agent looking for projects. He’s dying to be a member of the ‘Hollywood elite.’ The only reason he’s not a member of the ‘Hollywood elite’ is that no one will hire him to be one,” Kimmel said. “And you know, the reason I’m talking about this is because my son had an open-heart surgery and has to have two more, and because of that, I’ve learned that there are kids with no insurance in the same situation. I don’t get anything out of this, Brian, you phony little creep. Oh, I’ll pound you when I see you. That is my blurb — that would be my blurb for your next book: ‘Brian Kilmeade is a phony little creep.’”

Christie also criticized Kimmel for his remarks on the health care bill, but the comedian said the governor can get away with it because, as he joked of Christie earlier, he too got his head “stuck in a bucket of fried chicken.” But he reasons that Trump, who’s hellbent on repealing ObamaCare, hasn’t read the Graham-Cassidy bill.

“He just wants to get rid of [ObamaCare] because Obama’s name is on it,” Kimmel said. “The Democrats should just rename it ‘Ivankacare.’ Guaranteed he gets on board. Can you imagine Donald Trump actually sitting down to read a health care bill? It’s like trying to imagine a dog doing your taxes. It just doesn’t compute.”

And for those confused, as Kimmel was initially, about what the new bill stipulates, the host has a simple coffee barista sketch to boil down the big points. Watch above.

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CVS Health Moves to Limit Access to Opioid Painkillers

One of the largest managers of pharmaceutical benefits in the U.S. says it will start limiting the duration and dose of some prescriptions for opioid painkillers, in an effort to combat widespread addiction.

CVS Health Corp., which administers drug benefits for employers, insurers and some state Medicaid programs, said it would limit opioid prescriptions to seven days or less for certain patients with acute pain who haven’t previously taken an opioid painkiller. That will be a big change, given that many CVS-covered…

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For moms, mental health is everything






Mom Alia Dastagir encourages moms to talk about parenting struggles.

I love my daughter. I don’t always love being a mother.

I’m exhausted most days. The bulk of the games my 2-year-old demands I play are so boring I could cry. She’s diminutive, but still puts me in a firm headlock when I try to leave her room each night. Getting her into the bath is practically a hostage negotiation. And that look she gives me when she dumps her dinner on the floor — what is that? I swear it’s voodoo.

Loving Atika is visceral, chemical, exquisite. But raising her can be tedious and depleting. If we suggest being a mother means we must be joyful all, or even most, of the time, we do all mothers a disservice. Motherhood is remarkably difficult. Acknowledging that and taking care of our mental health is as important as taking care of our babies.

More: Mom of twin boys says this keeps her stress, anxiety under control

More: Mom shares 3 tips for becoming more confident

More: ‘Breast is best’ mom confesses she uses formula

The facts:

Mental health won’t look the same for every mom, especially if there’s a clinical diagnosis. I didn’t have PPD nor am I suffering from depression, but I do struggle with anxiety. (I’m not taking medication, but if I felt I needed it, I would.) Here are three ways I try to keep myself mentally healthy:

If I’m not fine, I don’t pretend to be: Recognize it’s OK to talk candidly about the hard stuff. The guilt. I have guilt right now, writing a column that will live in perpetuity which my daughter may one day read and misunderstand. I feel guilty for missing the life I had before she was born. I feel guilty for missing the moments of levity between me and her dad that are so much less frequent since she arrived.

I’ve got my spirit mamas: It doesn’t have to be a tribe, but you do need people in your life you can be vulnerable with. Mom friends. An online community. A therapist. If you’re raising your kid(s) with a partner, lean on him or her. The more you talk, the more you realize you’re not alone.

I try to keep perspective: On days when it feels like you’re failing at everything (you missed a deadline, the toddler ate Werther’s Originals for dinner), remember that even when you’re down on yourself, your kids likely aren’t down on you. Unconditional love goes both ways.

Moms deal with a lot — and not just in the realm of discovering poop in peculiar places. We struggle with everything from poor parental leave policies to motherhood penalties at work to stigmas around breastfeeding. To survive in this world, and to have the energy to better it for our kids, we need to care for ourselves.

I might not always love being a mother, but I love myself. There’s no better way to show it, than by prioritizing my mental health.

If you’re struggling with postpartum depression (PPD), seek help from a health care professional right away. If you’re not sure if you have PPD, take this online quiz and bring it with you to your appointment.





Mom Bod: Confessions of a breastfeeding mom | 1:00

Ashley May, a journalist at USA TODAY, shares how she’s meeting her breastfeeding goals.





Mom Bod: Tips for getting those recommended daily steps | 0:56

Michelle Washington, managing editor for STUDIO Gannett, makes time for walking 5 miles a day by getting a good night’s sleep, joining fitness challenges and making herself a priority.
Mom Bod





Mom Bod: How to balance work and parenting responsibilities | 0:56

Nanci Bergman, mom to 9-year-old Dalton and CEO of ACCENT, says prioritized to-do lists help her stay on task.





Mom Bod: Mom of toddler shares her secret to confidence | 0:59

A South Carolina mom says her side business gave her a boost of confidence she needed.





Mom Bod: Babywearing can be its own workout | 1:10

Mary Nahorniak says babywearing helped her lose post-baby weight. She demonstrates three real-world movements she incorporates into her walks with Alice.
Ashley May





Mom Bod: Mother of twins shares her stress-relieving secret | 0:51

Cynthia Robinson, senior operations editor at USA TODAY, advises moms of all ages to find their happy place.
Ashley May





Mom Bod: These meal prep tips will save your weeknights | 1:00

Cara Richardson, senior digital editor at USA TODAY, tells how she saves time through the week by planning and preparing meals ahead.
Ashley May, Mom Bod

  • Mom Bod: Confessions of a breastfeeding mom
  • Mom Bod: Tips for getting those recommended daily steps
  • Mom Bod: How to balance work and parenting responsibilities
  • Mom Bod: Mom of toddler shares her secret to confidence
  • Mom Bod: Babywearing can be its own workout
  • Mom Bod: Mother of twins shares her stress-relieving secret
  • Mom Bod: These meal prep tips will save your weeknights

Mom Bod is a USA TODAY video series featuring tips from moms on fitness, nutrition and mental health. The goal? Let’s be real about the struggle to “healthy” and learn to love our mom bods.

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Good posture means your body works as nature intended





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An eye for good health

eye test web


Wednesday morning at the Marshalltown Public Library, Lioness Club President Diane Maile (background) and her husband, Bob, were on hand to perform free vision screenings for youths ages six months to 10 years old, as representatives of the Iowa Lions Foundation. Using a special camera, photos were taken of children’s eyes. The images will then be evaluated by the University of Iowa, with results sent back to the parents. So far, the Marshall County Lions and Lioness Clubs have screened more than 330 children this year. Pictured is Olivia Rodriguez, 3, getting her vision screened.

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The Latest: Trump says GOP health care law has ‘good chance’

The Latest on the Senate Republican push to repeal the Affordable Care Act (all times local):

5:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is offering strong support for the last-ditch GOP effort to repeal “Obamacare.”

Trump said Wednesday that the legislation by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana has a “very good chance.”

Trump made the comments before meeting with the president of Egypt in New York City during an annual United Nations gathering.

Trump says this legislation “is much better actually than the previous shot.” He says he thinks many Republicans are “embarrassed” that they have not overturned former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The legislation would repeal central elements of the health care law. States would get block grants instead.


2:15 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intends to bring up a GOP health care bill on the Senate floor next week.

That’s according to McConnell’s spokesman, David Popp.

The legislation by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana would repeal central elements of former President Barack Obama’s health care law. State would get block grants instead.

Republicans must vote on the bill by the end of next week or lose access to special budget rules that prevent Democrats from filibustering.

McConnell has been short of votes for the legislation and it remains unclear if he has the votes in hand to pass the measure.

Popp’s statement said: “It is the leader’s intention to consider Graham-Cassidy on the floor next week.”


12:40 p.m.

New Jersey’s governor — Republican Chris Christie — says he opposes a health care overhaul that GOP senators in Washington are pushing.

Christie says he’s been lobbied to support the proposal. But he says he won’t back it because it would take money away from New Jersey and other states that expanded Medicaid.

He’s promoting his efforts to address New Jersey’s opioid epidemic. His administration has used Medicaid money for treatment.


9:40 a.m.

Sen. Bill Cassidy is making a last-minute ditch effort to repeal the Obama health law and replace it.

The plan promoted by the Louisiana Republican would undo the central pillars of former President Barack Obama’s law. The legislation would rely on grants to the states so they could make their own health care coverage rules.

He tells MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that his bill “will bring power to that patient, power to that state for them to have control over their health care future.”


8:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he hopes Republican senators will vote for new legislation that aims to repeal and replace the health care law enacted by his predecessor.

Trump says on Twitter that the developing plan is “GREAT!” and “Ends Ocare!” a reference to the existing “Obamacare” health law.

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana are the sponsors.

The bill would undo the central pillars of President Barack Obama’s health care law and replace them with block grants to states so they can devise their own health care coverage rules.

Senate Republicans defeated an effort earlier this year to repeal Obama’s law.

Trump also criticizes Kentucky Republican Sen. Ran Paul for opposing the bill. Trump says Paul is “such a negative force when it comes to fixing healthcare.”


4:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump and Republican Senate leaders are engaged in a frantic search for votes in a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pressing hard for the newly revived effort, which had been left for dead as recently as a week or two ago. But in a sign he remained short of votes, McConnell refused on Tuesday to commit to bringing the legislation up for a vote.

As in July, much of the focus is on Arizona Sen. John McCain. Would he step back in line with fellow Republicans now that there was a bill co-written by Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, his best friend in the Senate? McCain wasn’t saying. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another crucial vote, wasn’t disclosing her views, either.

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10 Tips to Start Living Your Best Life

So often we put off being happy until we have everything we want: money, a great job, a loving relationship, etc. But here’s the rub: mood follows action.

When we start doing the things that make us feel better, happiness arrives without us even thinking about it. It won’t always be easy (obviously), but it’ll totally be worth it.

Plus—and this is the really cool part—the things we thought were hard and didn’t enjoy that much to begin with, become the habits we enjoy the most.

It’s all about making the connection between the new habit you’ve adopted and the ‘feeling great’ feelings that result from it. When happiness is no longer conditional, magic happens.

Where to Start?

start living your best life

If you try to implement all 10 of these tips into your life right away, you’ll be back on the couch binging on Netflix and Oreos before the day is out.

Whichever analogy you prefer, eating an elephant and walking a thousand miles both use the same premise: start small and focus on the now. One step at a time, one mouthful at a time, one new habit at a time.

Pick just one of the tips below—they’re in no particular order, so just choose one that appeals to you—and map out a game plan for how you’ll approach it.

Figure out your ‘why.’ Knowing your ‘why‘ will help you stay the course even when you’re having a rough day or week.

When will you begin? Deciding on a start date gives your mind time to come to grips with the challenge that lies ahead.

By when will you achieve your goal? Not all of the tips require a finish date, but for the ones that do it’s important to know what that is. It’s how you’ll hold yourself accountable and stay on track.

1. Declutter Your Home and Office

When your home and office environments are cluttered, it can be really difficult to get anything done. Decluttering reduces stress and makes you more productive. By creating space in your physical world, you’re also clearing a bunch of mental cache for the things that really matter: relationships, art, service or whatever.

Blogs like Becoming Minimalist, Real Simple and The Spruce have plenty of helpful tips on how to get started. Remember though, once you’ve decluttered it’s just as important to stay on top of things and not revert back to your old ways.

“Any half-awake materialist well knows—that which you hold holds you.” —Tom Robbins

2. Declutter Your Habits

Decluttering doesn’t just extend to your physical stuff, you can downsize any area of your life that needs it. Take a moment to assess your habits. What are you doing that isn’ serving you? Are you watching too much TV, spending too much time on social media?

Adopting new habits and letting go of old ones does take work, but the payoff is huge. Take the time to figure out what your fundamentals are, and then make a point of incorporating them into your daily life.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” —Annie Dillard

3. Become an Essentialist

Greg Mckeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, says we spend too much time on busy work and not nearly enough time on the things that matter. Stop saying “yes” for the wrong reasons and learn to say “no“ for the right ones.

“Sometimes, we need to say no so that we have more time to say yes.” —Suzette Hinton

4. Create a Budget

When last did you take a long, hard look at your spending habits? A lot of times we think we’re doing a good job of managing our money, but it’s only when we begin paying close attention that we realize how much room there is for fiscal improvement.

Whether your goal is to get out of debt, retire early or simply save for a rainy day, a budget is a non-negotiable part of the plan. It needn’t be a prison sentence however, you can live richly on a budget.

“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.” —Dave Ramsey

5. Follow the Blue Zones Diet

Eat like the world’s longest-lived people and you’ll not only feel much better, you’ll save money, too. Their philosophy is simple: eat a variety of mainly plant-based foods. While diets vary from region to region, people living in the Blue Zones share a common approach to eating.

These folks eat almost no meat, avoid sugar and consume dairy in small quantities. They focus on whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains and steer clear of processed foods and take-out.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” —Albert Einstein

6. Move Your Body

There are many benefits to exercise, but you don’t have to go to gym to enjoy them. The key is simply to move your body. Our longevity experts in the Blue Zones favor gardening, but you could find your own ways to keep active, such as yoga, dancing, stretching or focusing on functional fitness. It’s really up to you, just make sure you break a sweat.

“For me, fitness is not just about hitting the gym; it is also about an inner happiness and an overall well-being.” —Rakul Preet Singh

7. Walk More, Drive Less

We’ve become so habituated to driving that it often doesn’t even occur to us that we could walk somewhere. Plus, we’re lazy. It’s easier to drive, so why wouldn’t we hop in the car to go to the store?

The problem is, the more you drive, the harder walking becomes. Suddenly even a mile seems too far to contemplate. Walking is better for your health (obvs), but it’s also better for the environment and your bank account.

Heading out on foot is less stressful too, because you don’t have to deal with traffic and it gives you the an opportunity to meet people. If your car is your go-to form of transport, why not challenge yourself to walk more?

“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” —Thomas Jefferson

8. Hang out with People Who Make You Feel Good

We’ve all been around people who leave us feeling drained, uninspired or less than. On the flip side, we’ve all known someone whose positive nature leaves us feeling similarly upbeat about life.

Happiness is an inside job, but it’s also true that surrounding yourself with happy people will make you happy too. This is yet another aspect of life that the the world’s longest-lived people have mastered. They make a point of spending time with their ‘tribe’ on a regular basis. These strong social networks have had a positive impact on their health behaviors.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” —Jim Rohn

9. Stop Watching the News

Given the rate at which bad news is replayed, it’s little wonder that watching an event on TV can be even more stressful than witnessing it firsthand. If you’re stressed or suffer from poor sleep, then a news fast is the best thing you’ll do all year.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that we need to watch the news, but that’s not true. News of important events will reach you regardless of whether you watch TV or read the newspaper. Quit the news and you’ll notice that you feel better almost immediately.

“Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.” —Colin Powell

10. Meditate

Most people use meditation as a way to calm the mind, but it’s a powerful tool for self-healing as well. Learning how to meditate isn’t nearly as difficult as you might imagine and the benefits far outweigh the perceived effort.

The science behind meditation is solid: it reduces stress, increases your sense of wellbeing, improves focus and memory and makes you more creative. Spend time each morning focusing on your breath and these are just some of the benefits you can expect.

“Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger, and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

There are, of course, many other things you could do to live your best life, such as journalling, practicing gratitude and being of service. Ultimately, it boils down to this: either you make life happen or it happens to you.

make it happen

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