KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

GOP Intends To Focus On Health Law Issues During Burwell’s Confirmation Hearings

Senate hearings for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President Barack Obama's pick to be the next secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, are likely to focus more on the health law than on the nominee. Many expect the proceedings to set the scene for a heated political debate on the law that will likely be part of the midterm campaign.

USA Today: Burwell Hearings To Be Debate Over Health Care
Confirmation hearings for the next secretary of health and human services are likely to be more about the health care law than nominee Sylvia Mathews Burwell. Republicans are serving notice that they will use the Burwell hearings to spotlight what they call problems with the health care law, including canceled policies, higher premiums, and delay of some provisions (Jackson, 4/13). 

Reuters:  Obama's New Health Secretary Nominee Draws Early Republican Fire
President Barack Obama's new nominee for health secretary drew some early political fire from Republicans on Sunday in what could foreshadow a stormy election-year confirmation debate in the U.S. Senate over the future of the law known as Obamacare. Two days after Obama nominated his budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Republican lawmakers alleged the new nominee could help the White House exert political control over Obamacare enrollment numbers and other data showing how well the reforms are working (Morgan, 4/13).

The Associated Press: New 'Face,' But Some Old Problems For 'Obamacare'
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who will hold confirmation hearings for Burwell, said there's an opportunity for her to move the health care debate beyond stalemate. While a political truce is unlikely over Obama's health overhaul, Wyden ticked off a list of other issues where Republicans and Democrats might be able to find compromise. Among them: revamping the way Medicare pays doctors, providing coordinated care for patients with chronic illnesses and using data to encourage delivery of quality health care at lower cost (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/12).

Fox News: Republicans: Burwell Confirmation Hearings Will Be Fair, But Focused On ObamaCare
A Senate Republican said Sunday that party members will use the upcoming confirmation hearing for a new Health and Human Services secretary to get more information about ObamaCare, but dismissed the notion GOP lawmakers intend to turn the proceeding into a political witch hunt. "The question is will the next secretary put the interests of Americans first, or the policies of the president," Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, told "Fox News Sunday." Scott made clear the hearings in his committee and Senate Finance Committee will be an opportunity to discuss yet-to-be-disclosed final ObamaCare enrollment figures and related issues, but said, "We're going to keep the focus on the American people, not politics" (4/13).

Politico: Sylvia Mathews Burwell Pick Complicates Democrats' Plans
Senate Democrats planned to spend the spring ramping up their election-year message on income inequality — not relitigating Obamacare. Change of plans. Republicans hope to turn Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination to run the Department of Health and Human Services — announced by President Barack Obama on Friday — into a proxy war over Obamacare (Kim and Everett, 4/11). 

McClatchy: Obama Looks To Pivot From Health Care Roll-Out
President Barack Obama worked to turn a page Friday on his signature health care law, nominating White House aide Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace embattled Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services. Known for her management skills, Burwell will become the new face of the Affordable Care Act, a controversial law with a troubled track record that could threaten Democratic prospects in this fall’s congressional elections. The first test for Burwell will come in the Senate, which unanimously confirmed her as White House budget director last year but which likely will use her confirmation hearings next month to stage a partisan debate over Obamacare (Wise and Lightman, 4/11).

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