KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Budget Talks Moving Further From GOP’s Health Law Concerns

Republicans blame Democrats for throwing up new roadblocks to a compromise, but at the same time Sen. Lindsey Graham says making changes to the health law is "unrealistic."

The Hill: Senate Plots House GOP Squeeze
The White House and the Senate are working to squeeze House Republicans into accepting a bipartisan compromise from the upper chamber to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Any emerging deal, however, will leave ObamaCare largely intact, angering conservatives who have demanded defunding or delaying President Obama’s signature achievement. House Republicans are fuming over the prospect that Senate Democrats and Republicans are working on a plan to jam them with a last-minute deal they would have to accept or risk triggering a federal default (Bolton, 10/13).

The New York Times: Senate Leaders Talk; G.O.P. Blames Obama For Gridlock
Senate Republicans on Sunday kept up the drumbeat of blame against President Obama for what they say is his failure to negotiate with them on the fiscal crisis that will come to a head on Thursday, when the government will run out of money to pay its bills. As the Republicans pointed fingers at the White House, Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell were set to sit down again on Sunday in an effort to come up with some sort of agreement. ... Some of the senators also sought to redirect the conversation from the shutdown and debt ceiling fight to the issue that closed the government on Oct. 1: the House Republicans' insistence that they would not pass any spending bill that included financing for the new health care law (Huetteman and Peters, 10/13).

The Washington Post: Sen. Graham: We're 'Ruining' House And Senate
The fight over the president's health-care law should be saved for another day, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday on ABC News's "This Week." "To my colleagues in the House, on both sides and to my friends in the Senate, we're ruining both institutions," Graham said. "So, it is unrealistic to expect us to defund or delay Obamacare by shutting the government down." That doesn't mean the fight against the health-care law should be abandoned, he said, adding that the measure will become a liability for the Democratic party. "To our Democratic friends, you own Obamacare and it's going to be the political gift that keeps on giving," he said. "So the shutdown will be old news next year; Obamacare's faults will be front and center in 2014, if we don't screw this up" (Chokshi, 10/13).

Politico: Corker: It's Now About Spending Caps
Sen. Bob Corker said Sunday the standoff in Washington was now about spending levels — not Obamacare — and knocked Democrats for trying to break the spending caps put in place in 2011 under the Budget Control Act. And he said there had been no progress toward a deal this weekend, which saw the collapse of talks between House Republicans and the White House. "The last 24 hours have not been good," Corker said on "Fox News Sunday." The Tennessee Republican dinged his own party for what he characterized as an "overreach" in trying to defund Obamacare as part of any deal to fund the government, saying that was "not something that was achievable." But he said Democrats were now overreaching by seeking an agreement to increase government spending above the levels mandated under sequestration (Wright, 10/13). 

The Wall Street Journal: Sidelined, Collins Vows To Continue Seeking Budget Compromise
Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Maine Republican at the center of a bipartisan Senate effort to break the budget impasse, on Sunday said she will continue to try and forge elements of a compromise despite having her initiative sidelined in favor of negotiations between the two top Senate leaders. ... The Collins plan called for extending the nation's borrowing authority through January and opening the government through March. But the measure would have done nothing to undo the sequester, a top Democratic priority. It also would have repealed a tax on medical devices imposed under the 2010 federal health law, a proposition Republicans favor but many Democrats don’t (Tracy, 10/13). 

The New York Times: Stuck On Usual Quarrel: Raising New Revenue
But even if the current talks soon resolve the immediate impasse, which did not look likely on Saturday, any renewal of negotiations for a long-term fiscal plan will run into the same underlying problem that has doomed efforts for the past three years. Republicans refuse to raise additional tax revenue, and until they do, Mr. Obama will not support even his own tentative proposals for reducing spending on fast-growing social benefit programs, chiefly Medicare. During a White House meeting with Senate Republicans on Friday, he reiterated that the two go hand in hand, according to people who were there (Calmes, 10/12).

The Hill: GOP Fear: Shutdown Thwarted Exposure Of ObamaCare Flaws
House Republicans, now seeking a way out of the current fiscal impasse, fear that the government shutdown robbed them of a chance to highlight the problems in ObamaCare's rollout. ... To make matters worse, Republicans have taken a public relations hit for their strategy , a fact not lost on the lawmakers who — along with GOP leadership — opposed making government funding contingent on healthcare changes. “I think we have missed a big issue. I don’t think there’s any question that this whole shutdown episode has covered for the bad rollout of ObamaCare,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), an ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "A lot of us warned that" (Becker and Baker, 10/13).

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