Round Two: The Los Angeles Times reports Sen. Mitch McConnell released a new draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the legislation designed to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Rolling Stone said Sen. McConnell faced a “precarious health care balancing act” prior to unveiling Thursday’s draft. As we noted with the last version, he needs to win over both ultraconservatives like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and moderates like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

So does the new version, or versions, do that?

That’s still a negative, Ghost Rider.

TIME says it’s still struggling to win over critics.

Reuters says the new bill is already in trouble. Fortune says it “still looks like it’s doomed.” The New York Times says the “revised Senate health bill tries to win votes, but has few winners.” And The Washington Post says “The Senate health-care bill gets a makeover, but it’s still really ugly.”

“The reason this bill is unfixable is because its basic structure will cause millions of economically vulnerable people to lose health coverage, raise individual premiums by 20 percent, and allow insurers to drop essential benefits like maternity care and substance abuse treatment, all while cutting taxes for the wealthiest households, drug companies and insurers.”

U.S. News & World Report says the American Medical Association doesn’t like this version any better than the last. They say it “does not address the key concerns of physicians and patients.” Which is what you want your health care to do, I should think.

Yahoo! Finance reports it does little to solve patient costs.

Paul Krugman penned an op-ed in The New York Times entitled, “The Cruelty and Fraudulence of Mitch McConnell’s Health Bill.” He says the new bill is even worse than the last one — still cuts Medicaid, still hurts anyone with a pre-existing condition, still pulls a reverse Robin Hood, taking from the poor to line the already thick pockets of the wealthy. Politico agrees, saying the “richest Americans gain the most from the Senate’s health care bill.”

Critics of the last version cited little support for the opioid epidemic stretching across the country; NBC News says while there’s more money for it in this version, it’s still not where it needs to be.

The Washington Post reports former holdouts Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin are conditionally on board. Sens. Paul and Collins are still opposed, though for very disparate reasons, and a few others are still on the fence. One of those senators, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is getting a whole lot of extra money thrown to her state in the latest draft, notes The Hill. She’s still reading over the draft, but last month she said:

“Let’s just say that they do something that’s so Alaska-specific just to, quote, ‘get me.’ Then you have a nationwide system that doesn’t work. That then comes crashing down and Alaska’s not able to kind of keep it together on its own.”

So we’ll find out if that remains true in the coming days.

And on the other side, Sen. Paul still isn’t having it. TIME quotes him as saying:

“This bill’s gotten worse. I mean, this bill keeps most of the Obamacare taxes. It keeps virtually all of the Obamacare regulations. It keeps most of the subsidies. And it adds a giant insurance bailout.”

So we’ve tilted a little, though still not enough, at the hard conservatives with the hopes of bullying or buying the moderates into voting “yes.” Which leads Bloomberg to surmise the latest draft may be already heading for a rewrite.

The Week says we are witnessing “the end of Mitch McConnell, master strategist.” Which, I get, but people have said that many times before and he’s still there, so that may still be a little premature. And people said the House’s bill would never pass and Trump wouldn’t be elected president, but we know how that went. So.

New York Magazine says Sen. McConnell is “running out of time, money, and luck” on healthcare — getting to 50 votes is “more implausible than ever.”

To buy some extra time, Salon and HuffPost say Sen. McConnell will delay the Senate recess until mid-August.

“In order to provide more time to complete action on important legislative items and process nominees that have been stalled by a lack of cooperation from our friends across the aisle, the Senate will delay the start of the August recess until the third week of August.”

This is the first time the recess has been delayed since 1994, according to NBC News.

Here’s Sen. McConnell on Tuesday:

Sen. McConnell plans to hold a vote for the new bill next week, but The Atlantic believes it “might never get a final vote.”

Once again, the release of the latest bill met with protesters outside Sen. McConnell’s office, this time it was a group of 50 or so religious representatives, says The Hill. Eleven were arrested and released after paying a fine.

Kaiser Health News reports public opposition continues to grow. A poll conducted July 5-10, just prior to the latest draft, shows 61 percent of Americans say they do not like the GOP plan, with more viewing the ACA replacement “very” unfavorably. The poll shows the strongest support for the GOP plan comes from Trump supporters and Republicans.


Cheap State: CNBC released its annual America’s Top States for Business study. Using data from the 2016 Annual Average Cost of Living Index from the Council for Community and Economic Research, they compiled a list of “America’s cheapest states to live in 2017.”

Kentucky comes in at No. 10. Here’s what they say:

Time to live it up! Add a beer chaser to your Kentucky bourbon and you’ve got a classic boilermaker. A six-pack of imported beer will run you around $9 in Bowling Green. But the real bargain in Kentucky comes in the morning. The ibuprofen you’ll need to nurse your hangover will cost just $6.56 for a bottle of 100 200-mg tablets. That’s roughly half the cost of the same bottle in Minneapolis.

2017 Cost of Living score: 41 out of 50 points
Most expensive area: Bowling Green
Average home price: $271,778
Half gallon of milk: $1.81
T-bone steak: $12.38
Monthly energy bill: $168.98
Doctor visit: $77.67

Our neighbors to the south in Tennessee come in at No. 7; our neighbors to the north in Indiana come in at No. 2. The cheapest state in the nation: Mississippi. Nothing to brag about there — Mississippi also ranks “among the lowest personal income in the nation.”

If you wander over to the full rankings for America’s Top States for Business 2017, you’ll find Kentucky sitting at No. 35 overall. Same as last year.

You may ask yourself — and rightly so — what the Dinosaur World photo in the header has to do with anything. I don’t know. I figure it’s probably a pretty inexpensive destination. And I thought it would be cooler than a graphic of the state with a dollar sign on it.

Courtesy of Harvest

Best of the Best: A couple of “Best Places to Do What You Do” lists out this week from BuzzFeed. The first: “The Best Brunch Spots In Every State, According To Yelp.”

For Kentucky, you’re going to want to go to Harvest over on Market Street.

What keeps people coming back: The biscuit and gravy

“You simply can’t go wrong here. Everything is delicious, fresh, and well made. I had the big ol’ biscuit and gravy with a side of bacon, and I also tried the burger with the pretzel bun. Rich and incredible combo!” —James C.

“My goodness. We needed to try a new place for a wedding anniversary this year and took a gamble on Harvest. Best food gamble we ever made.” —Glene M.

Next up: “The Best Places For Soft-Serve Ice Cream In Every State.” For Kentucky, I would have said Dairy Kastle over on Eastern Parkway. And I’m going to stick with that answer, but BuzzFeed says it’s actually Pipers Café in Covington.

What keeps people coming back: The insane number of flavor options available for soft-serve ice cream!

“Best vegetarian and ice cream shop (soft-serve) in Covington or Cincinnati! You have a ton of choices for ice cream with bowl, waffle, sugar, regular cone options. Worth the walk or drive, with nice outdoor eating views and spots across from park.” —Brandon S

“What’s even more awesome about Pipers is that they are very friendly when it comes to your dietary needs. They have 67 flavors of soft serve and you can mix up to three flavors (No extra charge) to make up your dream flavors.” —Hollyann H.

OK, so that sounds pretty good, I’ll grant you.

Also on BuzzFeed this week: “How Well Do You Know Our Kentucky Shakespeare Actors?” You should at least be able to get the answer to No. 8. Kentucky Shakespeare’s marketing and PR team have been killing it this summer and we’ve been popping up in all kinds of interesting places.

If you have trouble with any of the others, you can fix that by coming out to Central Park. We’re also in the middle of rotating rep right now, so you can see all the mainstage shows for the next couple of weeks. And it’s free. And there are food trucks and things.

Number Nine: Quentin Tarantino wants Jennifer Lawrence for his next film, says The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Teen Vogue, W and Deadline. Tentatively set to start filming in 2018, the project will center around the 1969 Manson Family murders.

In addition to Ms. Lawrence, names popping up include Brad Pitt, who worked with Mr. Tarantino on “Inglorious Basterds” and Tarantino-penned, Ridley Scott-directed “True Romance”; Samuel L. Jackson, who’s worked with Mr. Tarantino on six of the director’s films, and Margot Robbie, reportedly the only good thing to happen in the Academy Award-winning “Suicide Squad.”

That’s right. Academy Award-winning “Suicide Squad.”

Details are sketchy at this stage, but word is one of the prominent storylines focuses on one of the Manson Family victims, Sharon Tate, model and “Valley of the Dolls” actress, wife of director Roman Polanski. She was eight months pregnant at the time of her murder.

Also since it’s early, some reports suggest both Ms. Robbie and Ms. Lawrence are in consideration for the role of Sharon Tate; others suggest Ms. Robbie is the frontrunner for that role while Ms. Lawrence is being considered for something else entirely.

Mr. Tarantino announced he would retire after his 10th film; this will be his ninth and continues the historical revisit or reimagining of his last few movies: “Inglorious Basterds,” “Django Unchained” and “The Hateful Eight.” Ms. Lawrence was approached for “The Hateful Eight,” but was unavailable due to the filming schedule for “The Hunger Games” sequels.

Speaking of sequels, the new Planet of the Apes movie, “War for the Planet of the Apes,” is in theaters today. Reviews say it’s really, really good and it’s currently siting at 92 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. Forbes just comes and out and says it’s the “best film of 2017.”

Andy Serkis once again draws raves for his performance for his role as Caesar and continues to cement his legacy as the greatest motion capture actor ever. That’s just the guy you call for this kind of thing.

Of course, good special effects are like plastic surgery — you know it’s there, but if it’s done well, you don’t pay attention to it. You can forget and just get lost in the story. The original films were marvels in achievement where this was concerned when the franchise launched in the sixties; this showcases how the series continues to revolutionize. Take a look at this behind-the-scenes footage:

See you next week.