KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Lawmakers Ready Minor Changes To Obamacare Amid Bipartisan Support

Also on Capitol Hill, doctor groups oppose tying a fix to how Medicare pays them to a repeal of the health law, and Republicans look to use the law -- as well as the law's changes to Medicare -- to their advantage in upcoming elections.

Politico: More Obamacare Bills Next Week, But Fewer Fireworks 
House Republican leaders are planning to bring up three changes to Obamacare next week -- but unlike dozens of prior bills, these are more minor measures that are not expected to be controversial. All three bills essentially fix drafting errors, perceived oversights or unintended consequences in the president’s Affordable Care Act. They have bipartisan support and are scheduled to be considered under a suspension of the rules, which limits debate and requires support from two-thirds of House members -- a signal that leaders of both parties do not expect any heated debate (Haberkorn, 3/7).

The Hill: Obamacare Bill Gets Chilly Reception 
Powerful physician groups that are Washington’s loudest voice for a permanent “doc fix” are shooting down a Republican effort to link the bill to a delay of ObamaCare’s individual mandate. ... House Republican lawmakers have set a vote for next week on a bill that could cover the $150 billion cost of the “doc fix” by ending the controversial mandate to have insurance. ... Lobbyists for the medical profession said the Obamacare connection isn’t helpful because the permanent doc fix can’t happen unless the parties work together (Bogardus, 3/7). 

Reuters: Republicans Press Medicare Attack In Congressional Elections 
Republicans, looking for ways to turn November's congressional elections into a referendum on President Barack Obama's signature health care law, are trying to portray Obamacare as a danger to Medicare. The aim is to court one of the biggest and most reliable voting blocs in midterm elections, senior citizens and people near retirement, by depicting Republicans as defenders of the federal healthcare program for 42 million seniors (Morgan, 3/9).

The Hill: Cruz On O-Care Repeal: ‘We’ll Do It In 2017’
Most Republicans backed off the repeal-or-shutdown position after sustaining political damage during the two-week standoff in October, but Cruz promised on Sunday during an appearance on ABC News’s “This Week” to continue trying to get rid of Obamacare during the remainder of the president’s term. ... “I’ll give you one scenario where it could [be repealed before Obama leaves office],” Cruz said. “If there’s one thing that unifies politicians in both parties is that their top priority is preserving their own hide. If enough congressional Democrats realize they either stand with ObamaCare and lose ... that’s the one scenario we could do it in 2015. If not, we’ll do it in 2017" (Laing, 3/9).

The New York Times: Is There A Doctor In The House? Yes, 17. And 3 In The Senate. 
First thing on a recent Monday, Monica Wehby could be found in the operating room performing brain surgery on a child. But the Saturday before, she was shooting guns, because sometimes that’s what you do when you’re running for office. ... The politicking is all new for Dr. Wehby, 51, who wants to unseat Senator Jeff Merkley, a first-term Democrat. And when people find out that she wants to leave one of the most highly specialized and well-compensated fields in medicine for Washington, they often react with disbelief. Yet she is hardly alone among her physician peers (Peters, 3/7).

Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: How Proposed Part D Changes Are Playing On Capitol Hill
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey and CQ Roll Call’s Emily Ethridge Officials discuss how officials the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is proposing to remove some drugs from Medicare’s prescription drug plans and to limit how many plans insurers can offer (3/7).

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